Though they may feel far away, it’s time to think about the holidays. Sooner enough, there will be rich food to eat, eggnog to drink, and money to spend. Unfortunately for many who celebrate, the urge to charge their credit cards is a lot stronger than the impulse to grab seconds of pumpkin pie for dessert. Last year, the average shopper added more than $1,000 in debt — racked up by giving gifts, entertaining friends, and traveling to celebrate with family. If you’re worried you’re at risk of overspending this holiday season, you’re in the right place. This guide can help you limit your spending without marking you as a Scrooge.
Know what you can afford
Everyone has a limit on what they can afford to spend on the holidays without throwing the rest of their finances off track. According to the last National Retail Federation forecast, the average shopper spent $967 on gifts, decorations, and food. While this gives a good idea of what to expect from the season, it is only just an average. What you can afford may be more or less than these figures.
You won’t know your limit until you take stock of your finances. A budget is a great way to see how much expendable cash is left over after you’ve paid for the necessities. It can also help you eliminate unnecessary purchases that needlessly tie up your cash during the holidays. If it shows things like recurring library fines, data overage charges, or excessive takeout bills, then you can target these spending habits for extra savings.
Shop the sales
Though retailers expect to rack in the sales during the holiday season, you aren’t stuck paying full price for everything on your list — if you know how to shop strategically. With determination and patience, you can find discounted items and sales that will help you lower your overall total without changing how many gifts you buy for your loved ones.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most popular sales this fall, and they’re a great way to snag deals on electronics, clothes, and housewares. Don’t stop there, though. You can use your phone to locate other deals that are less widespread or well-known when you download the right apps.
Use a list
There’s a reason why Santa has a list. He uses it to keep track of all the gifts he needs to deliver on the big day. While no list of yours will ever compare with the big man’s, it’s still a simple organizational tool that can keep you on financial track.
A list helps focus your shopping, so you aren’t dashing around the store picking up anything and everything can you find. It encourages intentional or mindful shopping, as you’ll have to think about the people you’re shopping for before you ever reach the mall. You can take that time to research for gifts that fit within your budget.
Once you have your list, use it. If you think you’ll forget the scrap piece of paper you used as your first draft, commit it to your phone’s note app so it’s always with you.
Know how you’ll recover
Despite your best efforts not to, it’s all too easy to fall into a spending trap this holiday. Caught up in the flurry of activity at the mall, you can stray from your list and buy things you don’t need. If you end up dipping into savings to cover these purchases, you may be in trouble should your car breakdown or your oven stops working.
When you don’t have the cash you need, payday advance loans are a potential alternative. They’re best reserved for when you’re facing unexpected bills or repairs you can’t put off despite your cash shortage — like essential prescription medicine or a broken fridge.
For especially time-sensitive responsibilities, you can contact an online lender to receive a payday advance online as fast as possible. Some lenders like MoneyKey can issue your loan within one business day, making payday loans online a simple solution when you’re facing a time crunch. To see what else they’re good for, click here to learn more about their uses.
In the end, you may not need to rely on an online payday loan but knowing how to get one in case you do can save you a ton of stress. Be honest with yourself when you’re planning your holidays. Accepting that the unexpected can throw off your plans can help you recover faster than if you had unerring confidence in your ability to budget.
The holidays are a challenging time for most people planning to celebrate, as it encourages spending more than you should on the people you love most. Luckily, you can show how much you love them without sending your finances into a tailspin as long as you plan for your holiday shopping properly.