Those Who
Don't Know HOW to SHOP

Budget Planning

The time flows fast and holidays don't wait until we get ready for them. It's like you've recently decorated your first Christmas tree, and now you are already searching for the newest gadgets for your child to be given as a present. The holidays are coming and they require some extra money spending, except the happiness of their celebrating that they bring.

A common American family can spend about $800 on gifts during the holiday season. Almost half of Americans use their credit cards to cover these expenses.

If you don't want to be upset with some overspending, try to pay with cash instead of using credit cards. You will avoid unwanted costs in such way. I can certainly say that planning can save you. If you begin to plan in advance, then you will have a great material base by the hottest time of the year - holidays.

Determine your budget

You have to know exactly how much you are going to spend before you start to save for the future. You probably understand that holidays mean not only presents giving, they also bring parties, guests, decorations and even journeys. So if you start to build your budget in advance, you'll get more chances to have some unspent money when the holidays end.

1. What amount are you ready to spend?

You have to distribute your money spending to all main purposes of your holiday budget. Here are some things that will definitely be important during the holiday season:

gifts for the family members and friends
gifts or treats for your colleagues
holiday food
holiday outfits for parties and celebrations
tickets or gasoline if you are planning a trip
home decor, including a decor for your yard if you own a private house
charity expenses
postage and gift wrapping
some greeting cards

Keep your head in the clouds but your feet on the ground. It means that you have to stay realistic and spend as much as you can and not as much as you want. It's great if you know how much can you spend on gifts for each person when you already have a general budget.

You also have to rank your costs in the order of importance. For example, if you want to renew your home decor, then you have to spend less on your holiday outfit. And when you already have all your expenses prioritized, it's more real that you will have enough money for the most important things during holidays.

2. Establish expectations

First of all you have know what other expect from you, it's a right way to avoid overspending. Here some examples:

you have to set the number of people who will be gifted by you. And you have to decide who gets a holiday gift and who gets a holiday card
think about holiday parties, maybe you have to bring some drinks or food, it's better to know about it in advance
discuss your plans with friends and coworkers, so that they would have enough time to change their plans according to yours
ask your kids what exactly they want as a gift, and you will have a lot of time to find it at the best price or make it with your hands

You have to know that there are some ways to save on a celebration. For example, instead of buying unnecessary gifts that cost a lot, you can invite your friends or coworkers for a dinner and spend a great time while celebrating together.

3. Open your holiday account

You can create a special bank account that will be used only for holiday needs. Begin to transfer as much money as you can and keep on doing it every month until the holidays come. By that time you will already have enough money to spend on gifts and other important things from your holiday budget.

Before you open such an account, try to count how much money are you going to spend according to your holiday budget. Then count how much time do you have until the celebration starts. At last, break up that amount on weekly deposits, that you will transfer to your bank account. So if you start in advance, you will save a large sum and spend only a few dollars a day.

How to Save a lot during Christmas Celebration

When the budget is already set, you may think about some extra savings. That means that you can find some additional ways of money saving. For example, apply for extra work or sell unnecessary things to get more money for holiday expenses.

1. Shop in advance

If you choose the right time to shop, you will save plenty of money. Most sellers offer big discounts on their products several weeks before the holiday shopping season starts. As a rule, you can catch best price offers and discounts if you shop well before Thanksgiving.

Shop early not to get caught on the classic marketing tricks. I mean that you can stay more focused on the things you have to buy and at their price when you are not distracted by the holiday atmosphere with its lights, music and crowded shops.

As for me, I like to shop online. The calm atmosphere of my home and numerous offers on the products that I'm searching for, let me find the best deals and save my money. I can also use coupon codes to save even more. It's also great, that before Black Friday starts, I already have done all my shopping, so I'm free from the pressure that flies in the air these days.

2. Sell something to get some extra money

If you want to clear some space in your house and get some free money on holiday purchases, you can find some unnecessary things that you can sell. There are different ways of how you can do it:

garage sales are welcomed
online sources like eBay can help you
take your things to the consignment store
Freecycle is another place on the Web which can help you

But don't forget about your safety. Use only proofed money services as Paypal or Venmo to get your money, and meet the buyer only in safe places. Depending on the goods you sell, you can add more than $100 to your holiday budget and free some space for new holiday decor.

3. Don't forget about gift cards

You can buy a refillable gift card if you prefer certain shop and you are going to buy most of the holiday stuff there. Add some money to this card every time you visit this store. So, by the beginning of the holiday preparations, you will already have enough money to spend. Such method will relieve you from the stress of spending a lot of money at once and will stop overspending.

4. Choose the right credit card

If you are planning to stock up for holiday stuff in one certain shop, that has its credit cards, then you've got to have it. For example, Target offers REDcard which saves 5% on all purchases plus gives free shipping. It can be used like a debit card, so you will be protected from buying with credit.

Another great way to save for those who shop online from month to month is to use cash back credit cards and rewards credit cards that can save large amounts on your shopping.

5. Use money-saving life hacks

You can get some free money if you change your everyday rituals and go for money saving alternatives. Then the money you saved will go directly to your holiday budget.

So here are some money-saving life hacks that will help you to have some extra money:

try to drink coffee at home, instead of overpaying at the coffee shop
rent a DVD instead of buying movie tickets
cook at home instead of going to the restaurant
you can change your satellite TV for Hulu, or Amazon Prime
exercise at home or start running instead of paying for the gym

Such simple changes can bring very good results to your money saving strategy and make your life happier and healthier thanks to new habits.

6. Don't forget about loose change

You will be really impressed by the quantity of loose change that you can find at your home. Once, I've decided to check my moneyboxes that I have in my apartment, and I was very surprised by the amount that I found there. It turned out, that I can add almost $100 to my holiday budget. Since that time I always gather all loose change in one place and I know that I always have some extra money that can support my budget. So try to check your pockets, bags and some places in your car to find some extra money.

It can also become a great tradition - to spend some money on charity. Just imagine how useful can be your help for those who really need it, for example, you can donate some money to local shelters or hospitals. So don't forget to check for unspent change and turn it to a really good deed.

7. Look for the second job

Some additional activities can bring some extra money to your holiday budget. You don't have to overwork or forget about sleep, just add some simple activities that will help you to earn a little bit more before the holidays start.

Here are a couple of such activities:

try to arrange home-cleaning service
sell DIY decor or other goods on Etsy
offer a babysitting service to your neighbors or friends
try to tutor kids online or after school
look for online classifieds for temp positions which you can easily find during holidays

Maybe it's not what you dreamt of, I mean working on holidays, but it can help you to receive a great support for your budget and even get some money for post-holiday times.

8. Try a Financial Fast

All of us sometimes may have problems with overspending. But there are some ways that can help you to avoid it. For example, you can complete a financial fast, that helps you to save your budget by detecting the weak places in it.

The main sense of the financial fast lays in its name, that means that first of all, you try not to spend anything for a certain amount of time. The next step is to detect areas which you can't leave without paying even during the fast, for example paying bills, or buying products. And then think about things that you can leave without buying. When you already have all the spends in your head, and you've set its terms, you can start your money-fasting marathon.

Soon you will discover that you've already got used drinking your morning coffee at home, instead of the coffee shop, watching movies at home instead of buying expensive tickets and you like to run instead of paying for the gym. Maybe you will even decide to extend your experiment and turn some of its parts to your favorite habits.

Last few words...

Holidays bring a lot of bright moments and joy to our life. But another their side is spending a lot of money on all these pleasures. Never the less, if you plan your holiday budget in advance, you have all chances to avoid overspending and spend as much as you really can. So don't forget to follow these recommendations and then the holiday season will pass without any stress!