What are you, Single Mommas, doing to make sure you do not overspend this holiday season?
Can you believe it’s already November? My neighbors have already decorated for Christmas and we have not even thrown out our pumpkins yet! The holidays will be here in no time! Are you ready? The average American with debt takes on an additional $1,000 in debt over the holidays. Yikes! If money is already tight, that can leave you in a bad spot come the new year.
I remember my first Christmas after divorce. Talk about feeling overwhelmed. I was completely broke, but I wanted to make it an extra special holiday for my kids since it was our first Christmas without their dad. I was trying to overcompensate for all the family drama over the year leading up to it. Still, the last thing I needed was to bury myself in more debt.
Here are 5 ways to set yourself up for success when Christmas shopping this year:
1. Create a budget.
I know that for some, “budgeting” is a bad word and can even be a huge source of anxiety. However, for most us, a budget is critical to not overspending. Ideally, you plan for holiday spending within your annual budget. However, if you are not operating off a regular household budget, it’s time to get serious (even if just for a couple of months).
To create a budget, start by looking at your income. Consider all sources. Are you doing anything to add additional income for the holidays? Based on these factors, how much of your income would be considered discretionary? In other words, how much do you make over and above your necessary savings and expenses? Once you determine what is discretionary, you can decide what to use for the holidays, including travel, gifts, and other expenses.
2. Make a list.
I’m sure you have heard it before, but Santa is not the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice. Make a list of all your upcoming holiday expenses. This will vary significantly by person. It could include decorations, entertaining-related expenses, gifts, travel, etc.
Time to visit the “b-word” again. I’m referring to your budget. Make sure you consider how much money you want to allocate to each of the expenses on your list. If your plan involves spending more money than you have, it is time to seriously consider getting a part-time job to increase your income or find ways to reduce your expenses, at least during the holiday season.
3. Start early.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Starting early gives you the opportunity to plan and take advantage of the best deals, whether it’s on travel or gifts or any other holiday-related expenses. It also gives you time to get crafty and make some homemade gifts.
For online shoppers like me, starting early can make a significant difference when it comes to shipping expenses. Those last-minute shipping costs can really rack up!
Take the time to comparison shop, particularly for any of your large expenses. Think about the best places to get the items/services that you need at a reasonable price. Check circulars and deal sites. While Amazon may be convenient, especially if you are a Prime member; it is often not the least expensive option.
Have you decided to make some gifts this year to save money while still experiencing the joy of giving? Check out Pinterest for countless ideas to fit any budget.
This is the fun part. It’s time to make your purchases. Keep all your receipts. You may find the same item at a lower price somewhere else. Some stores will match competitor pricing. Be sure to take advantage of that. Remember to keep track of all that you spend and check your budget regularly to make sure you are on track. There’s nothing wrong with rearranging your budget but this is the time to control tendencies to overspend.
Once you’ve gotten through the holidays, congratulate yourself. You did it! You kept things in check and instead of overspending and starting the year in debt, you are ready to start the new year with a clean slate.
And if you did overspend, don’t overact. Recognize that nobody is perfect. You just need to get back on track as soon as possible so as not to keep burying yourself in more debt.