Holiday Expenses And How To Prepare For Them

Holiday Expenses And How To Prepare For ThemHoliday expenses would now be starting to figure in your financial planning because Christmas is just 39 days away. There are a lot of things to work on for the holidays. It can be planning that family get together or making sure you set aside one day for your friends before Christmas. It might even be ironing out that family trip you have been planning for months now.

Whatever the holidays mean to you, there is no doubt that you would incur expenses. This is especially true when you start to look at the gifts you have to give out to people. From your immediate family, close friends, and even your colleagues – the list can be a long and expensive one. It can form a big part of that month’s budget.

Holiday expenses are no longer surprising as December usually is one of the most expensive months of the year. More than the gifts, the get-togethers, and other events are all packed during this last month. Before everyone starts the new year, it seems to be a tradition to end the year on a high note. Sadly, this also means a higher spending for you.

According to the National Retail Federation, there were about $655.8 billion sales in retail during the last two months of 2016. And they are even projecting that for this year, there will be as much as 4% increase in sales. That can mean about $682 billion in projected sales for this month and the next. With these numbers, how does your holiday expense preparations stack up?

Here are a few things you can do to help you prepare for the expense and improve your finances without taking up debt. You wouldn’t want to start the new year with a big debt amount looming over your head.

Take a look at your last year’s holiday expenses

It is a good idea to try and remember how your expenses went the past year. This can be a great benchmark for what you can do for this year. It can also help you learn from the past mistakes you made. Doing so can give you a better chance of keeping your holiday budget intact. Try to remember where you struggled the past year so you can prevent the same thing from happening again.

As you bring out last year’s budget, you also get to look at the names of the people you need to give gifts to. You can also check how much you allocated for each person last year. This makes your task of assigning an amount per person easier for the coming holiday shopping. You can choose to update it or simply move amounts around depending on how this year went.

Prepare a detailed budget

Calculating The Household BudgetWith a copy of your last year’s holiday expenses, you can now start to put together your budget. This helps you get a clearer picture of what amount you are looking at this year. This is easier than trying to put everything together from the ground up. Your budget is crucial in the whole process because the last thing you need is to charge all the expenses in your card and not pay them on time.

You need to remember that this is a supplemental one to your regular household budget. Apart from coming up with a holiday budget, you have to make sure first that all your basic financial obligations are met for the month. This includes debt payments and even basic needs such as utilities.

Once you have that covered, you can now look at your holiday budget. It would be a big help if you can compare prices of items between shops. You can either call them up or simply look it up online. Research has never been easier with the advent of technology. With that, buying has been super convenient for consumes with online shops sprouting like mushrooms. Just be sure to incorporate the shipping cost of the items you are buying online.

Make sure that you follow that budget

When it comes to your holiday expenses, creating a budget is just one part of the equation. An equally challenging task is following the same when you start shopping. Your budget will not be worth anything when you just leave it at home or in your smartphone. You need to have it with you at all times and use it when you start to go shopping.

Convincing yourself that you can remember what was in there is tempting trouble. Regardless how much you remember, there is external factor to deal with. The discounts and other sale promotions of establishments and even the limited time factor are tools marketers use to make you buy more than what you need.

Without your budget and with the marketing tools being used by your favorite shops, you are on the road to overspending. As you walk out the door or check-out the items in your online cart, you might find that you have more bags to carry or bigger amount to pay. One reason for this is because you did not have your budget with you when you were shopping.

Look for ways to personalize some gifts

This is something you need to explore when you want to create significant savings on your holiday expenses. There is nothing wrong with buying gifts for your loved ones but it is better if you can create one for them. This comes very handy when you are trying to work with a tight budget. You get to hit two birds with one stone. You are able to personalize your gifts as well as being able to save money and not having to buy off the shelves.

One thing to consider is that you might have a side hustle that you rely on for extra cash. You can tap into that to help you personalize a gift. Are you a weekend photographer or an after-office baker? You can use these talents to be able to make a one-of-a-kind gift for your family and friends. Offer to do a photoshoot for them or bake personalized cakes and cookies for the holidays. You get to save money and send a unique gift in the process.

Prepare and send them out early

Once you have prepared all the gifts on hand, you might want to send them out on time so family and friends get them on time. This is especially helpful if there are no plans of seeing them on or before the holidays. It is best to get it out and have the presents delivered for the holidays. Remember that there are a lot of people sending gifts all across the country so you better get that done early.

In order to do this, you have to calendar everything early and stick to that schedule. Apart from keeping an eye out on your expenses for the holidays, you need to monitor your schedule as well. Sending out the gifts early means buying or creating them early and wrapping them out early as well.

Holiday expenses are just around the corner and the better you can prepare for them, the more you can manage your finances before the year ends.