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How To Stay On Budget During the Holidays

Man shops online using laptop next to Christmas tree.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, the holiday season is one of unconditional giving. But, no matter if you’re traveling to spend quality time with loved ones or exchanging gifts with friends, all of that giving normally coincides with one thing: spending.

Between buying groceries for holiday feasts, shopping for gifts online, and more, the average American is set to spend $998 this year on items like presents, food, decor, and other holiday-related purchases.

While the pandemic is certainly bringing about challenges to in-person holiday traditions, socially distanced gift-giving and meals are still on the agenda for most families across the country—which means it’s more important than ever to make a holiday spending plan.

Without a holiday budget in place, you can easily overspend, rack up debt, and start the new year off in a tough financial spot. Fortunately, learning how to stay on budget during this unusual holiday season is easy with these quick tips.

Make a List, Check It Twice

The first step to staying on budget during the holidays is making a comprehensive list of all your expected expenses. From pricey gifts to inexpensive greeting cards, make sure to document all your planned purchases early on—as this will give you a general overview of all the things you need to buy along with their price tags.

Other easily overlooked holiday-related purchases include:

  • Shipping costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Grocery store trips
  • Wrapping paper and packing supplies
  • Holiday decor
  • Charitable donations
  • And more

Whether you use a hand-written list or an Excel spreadsheet, documenting your holiday purchases prior to the season will help you stay on track with your finances and prevent overspending.

Set a Spending Limit

Establishing a secure holiday budget means setting a spending limit within your means. Although you might want to splurge on certain items or give gifts outside of your immediate family circle, it’s important to focus on what your current budget will allow. Calculate a reasonable spending limit outside of your monthly bills or fixed expenses and stick to it.

If you want extra holiday budget wiggle room, try to cut back on those morning coffee runs or take-out orders. Also, don’t go overboard on who you are buying presents for. If you want to give gifts to loved ones outside of your immediate circle, consider baking holiday-themed cookies or creating personalized greeting cards with supplies you already have.

Note: When making holiday-related purchases, it’s best to focus on a cash-only approach rather than opting for a credit card. Racking up credit card debt can leave you in a bind as you approach the new year, making it difficult to start off on a clean slate.

Track Down Seasonal Deals

The holiday shopping season is filled with deals around every corner, so choose where you are buying gifts wisely. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, e-coupons, and more, you can shop around to see who is offering the best deals on the gifts you plan to buy. Found “doorbuster” deals for Black Friday or Cyber Monday but have to wait to access them? Make sure to note or bookmark websites that are offering these deals and mark your calendar for easy planning.

Plan Ahead for the Next Holiday Season

Creating a holiday budget will not only streamline your expenses this year, but it will also help you plan for the next holiday season. Starting in January, you can reference last year’s budget to see how much you spent. Once you have your total, you can divide that number by 12 to get a rough estimate of how much money to set aside each month. Although your shopping needs might change, this strategy will help you prepare for a financially sound holiday season in the new year.

Stay On Budget During the Holidays with Landmark National Bank

The holiday season is meant to be filled with joy and fun—not financial stress. Thankfully, with a little planning and budgeting, you can prepare for all your holiday-related expenses and stick to a budget that works with your lifestyle.

If you need extra help managing your finances throughout the holiday season, Landmark National Bank is here to assist. With our selection of personal checking accounts, you can easily keep track of your finances with our online banking tools as well as earn rewards while using a Landmark Visa® Debit Card.

Give us a call to learn more about our convenient personal banking tools, or open your totally free checking account online today!