Budgeting for Christmas shopping madness

Debt-free holidays! Start now!

Debt-free holidays! Start now!

Is it too early to start thinking about the upcoming Christmas shopping madness? We think not!

This is a perfect time to start looking at your budget, make a list, check it twice and set financial boundaries, so that you can not only beat the crowd, but most importantly, emerge from the soon approaching holiday season with no debt! Here are three simple ideas on what you can do now to avoid charging your holiday purchases on a credit card:

Set boundaries: Unless you set limits on how much you plan to spend on your holiday gifts, you’re bound to overspend and go into debt. Make a detailed list of people you will be buying gifts for. Set a specific amount for each person and see what the total comes to. This will give  you a clear target to start saving for. Failing to plan is planning to fail, so be smart, make a plan and stick to it! Consider home-made gifts as part of your gift mix to help you balance your budget.

One gift at a time: How about purchasing few gifts at a time instead of doing all of your holiday shopping at once? As soon as you know your spend limits and who you’re buying gifts for, start looking for online and retail deals.  Stress and holiday rush can have a negative impact on your wallet. Taking the “divide and conquer” approach will help you do “smart” shopping rather than “fast” shopping. Your budget will also feel less pressure!

Where are you wasting money?: Do you know where every penny of your monthly income is going? If you don’t, it’s very likely you are unknowingly wasting money on one or even a few categories. Do a quick 15-30 day check on all your spending. Track every transaction to find out how exactly you’re spending your hard earned dollars. By doing this you’ll be sure to find areas where you spend more money than intended. Once you discover your waste, set those dollars aside in order to have cash available for your holiday shopping madness. Using an online personal finance app, like Mvelopes, can help you discover those waster areas very quickly!