According to the National Retail Federation consumers spent an average of $730 per person during the 2013 holiday season. Yikes!! Financial planners advise us to spend no more than 1.5 percent of our income on all holiday expenses. Obviously the specific amount varies for everyone so, while I can't offer a hard-fast number that fits each person or family, I can pass along some saving strategies. If you love the holiday as I do but don’t want to be paying for it in May, here’s a few things to consider now.
1. Determine your gift spending plan and stick to it: Gifts are one area of our holiday expenses where we have total control over how much we spend! Take a few minutes (include your significant other if applicable) and determine how much you can spend. Finish the spending plan BEFORE you start shopping. Keep track of the spending as you go along. There are plenty of Christmas gift budgeting apps to help. Pick one with high costumer ratings and use it to keep your spending plan updated as you go.
2. Set aside some money: Is it too difficult? Is there even time between now and Christmas? Yes, I think of it as making choices. If you are spending $8 to $10 each day for lunch, pack your lunch and save that money. Over the next four weeks, that could add up to $200. Think for just a moment about those credit cards. Anything you charge will have to be paid back at $15 to $20 for each $100 you charge if you carry a balance from month to month and make only the minimum payment. That is a great motivator to find the money without resorting to credit.
3. Be smart about sales: We are all familiar with Black Friday but are you taking advantage of Cyber Monday? The Monday following Black Friday, referred to as Cyber Monday, is when online retailers offer great deals often including free shipping. Be ready to go with your gift list and pay less for gifts from the comfort of your living room!
4. Get creative: There are lots of ways to reduce the dollars and still give appreciated gifts. Non-monetary gifts are a fabulous way to keep costs down. Homemade gifts are often more meaningful. Coupons or certificates for service or quality time are a great way to share talents and make memories.
What tips do you have for last-minute Christmas budgeting? Leave a comment below!
Be sure to check out the LiveWellUtah blog for some delicious holiday recipes that won't break the bank!