Top 5 Ways to Avoid Overspending this Holiday
No matter who you are, it is likely the holiday season brings you some kind of stress. This stress could be cooking a holiday meal for your Aunt Agnes who can’t understand why you’re still single, or how you’re going to satisfy all those people on your list who earn more than you anyway.
Before you run out to deck the halls with the help of multiple credit cards, take a seat and take a deep breath. An important thing to note is that our holiday budget should not just include our gift shopping. If you’re hosting a party this year, these tips also apply to the food and decorations you will buy. Being the hostess with the mostest doesn’t mean making yourself broke! Brush up of these five tips and tricks to avoid overspending this holiday season.
1. Lists are your Best Friend
Lists are a good idea no matter what time the year it is. If you know exactly what you’re looking for in the aisles you’ll be less likely to purchase what you don’t need. Planned lists make it harder for those creative sales pitches to get you to open up your wallet. When making your list be sure to include potential prices and collect your receipts in an envelope. This will help you keep track of your spending over the holidays.
2. Let your Brain do the Thinking
When we pay for something in cash and we see the physical money leave our hands something happens in our brains. Interestingly enough, the same part of our brain that fires when we experience pain also fires when we give a store clerk money in the form of cash. So when the men in your life say that shopping is painful, they may be right!
This feeling is slowly suppressed once we receive our purchase, but that initial feeling is very important. Scientists believe this because we associate the physical money with the work we did to earn it. This inherently adds value to the green in our wallet.
The trouble with paying on a card is that we lose a connection with that money we worked for. Before you enter the shops this season, go to your bank, pull out cash within your holiday budget, and try to stay within it!
3. Plan for the Sale
There’s no excuse for paying full price for your goods during the holidays, since there are always sales coming and going to entice shoppers. Sign up for your favorite store’s email promotions so you can be informed of their specials. If these bother you after the holidays you can always unsubscribe once your work is done! Also, remember that if you got someone their gift on sale this doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of your budget on more. Just count the cheaper buy as a win for you!
4. Window Shop
This holiday season, here’s something to try. Leave your wallet in the car and browse the mall putting things that you find on hold. In the time that you walk to your car and back to the store, you will know whether the stuff you were looking at is something you should really be buying.
A friend of mine tired an extreme tactic of this nature. She froze her cards into a block of ice, and if she still wanted to purchase the item by the time the ice had thawed, only then would she buy it. Leaving your wallet in the car’s glovebox this season should suffice!
5. Use Your Points
If you are like the average human, you love collecting points from frequent purchases but forget to use them. The holiday season is the perfect time to capitalize on using your rewards from point cards. Whether it be purchasing a gas card from the gas station or personal care items from your optimum points at Shopper’s Drug Mart, using your points is a great money saving tactic. If you have a credit card that collects points, be sure to look into your options.
The Bonus Tactic
As you know, the holidays come once a year. Because we know that this season is cyclical in the calendar year there is a lot you can do to prepare. This January, open up a separate savings account and contribute a small percentage of every pay cheque you earn. If you can avoid touching this account all year long, you will have a modest (or better!) nest egg saved up for Christmas spending next year.If you have a bonus saved up you can easily set your budget without dipping into your other savings accounts or racking up a nasty credit card bill in January.
When all else fails, it’s always a fabulous idea to gift an experience, an act of service, or a homemade gift. The message of the season should be about spreading love and showing the people in our lives that we care for them. No need to put yourself into a stressful situation to please people with silly things.