So, About That Holiday Budget...

Gingerbread House Home Budgeting

The holiday season is finally here!

It seems like there are two camps- “Wow, I’ve been waiting forever!” and “Huh, how did that happen? Wasn’t it just summer?” No matter which camp you’re in, it’s here, and we’re all in it for the ride. The overindulgence- too much food, too many cookies, and usually, too much spending…

Losing those extra holiday pounds is no easy thing, but there’s nothing like that holiday financial hangover. And for what? Often we get a little crazy, and jump in to the purchasing frenzy we see everywhere, but do we really need to go so nuts? Buy so much? For so many? Need is always a strong word to use when gift giving, and though we love to do it, if you have plans or dreams of buying a home in 2019, NOW is the time to take a deep breath, stop and think, and make a plan to get you in that home before the next holiday season arrives! Trust me, January you will be so proud of December you!

Here are a few holiday budget tips to keep in mind to make sure that 2019 house is built of more than gingerbread.

  • Make a list. Yep, just like Santa. And seriously, check it twice. Set a budget. Not just for each person, but for the whole season. Stick to it. We usually think about the gifts, but remember all of the other “incidental” expenses around the holidays. New party clothes, gifts, cards, host/ hostess gifts, parties (and the pre-game!), dinners out, Uber and Lyft expenses for those parties, and more…

  • Is it holiday bonus time? If that’s where you get your free wheelin’ holiday spending, try allocating only a portion of that on holiday gifts and fun, and using the rest to sock into savings, or better yet, knock down some of that high interest debt.

  • Do you and your BFF need to exchange $100 gifts? Can you afford it? Can they? Is it sometimes just something we do because we feel like we “should?” Have the conversation. Maybe the more meaningful “gift” is an afternoon at the movies, or dinner, or setting a limit to find a creative, unique gift with a limit of $20 or $30.

  • Does every party and event require a new outfit? Probably not. Even if that gorgeous deep green velvet blouse is on sale, are you going to wear it beyond that office holiday party?

  • Ideally, we’ve saved money all year long (What a concept!) to allow an all cash holiday season. Yeah, I’m doing that next year too. You heard it here. But if you haven’t, figure out what you can afford, WITHOUT maxing out those credit cards, and work backwards on that budget. I’d venture to say most people you care about would be quite okay with less (or nothing) if it means you are able to get in the home you know you want.

    • Even if you’re paying the bills on time, your credit score is impacted by how much of your available credit is getting used.

    • If you’re just paying those minimum payments, you (hopefully) know that it’s going to take a really, really long time to chip away at that balance. And if the interest added to what you paid for that cute necklace for Mom that was a great deal at $75 makes it $250 over time, is it still that cute?

Still stressed? Here are a few great app suggestions that will help you get that holiday shopping crazy under control, and make sure you wake up January 1 still ready to buy that new house.

  • Santa’s Bag- Simple, easy to use, gift list app. Allows you to enter all your people, what they want most, what your budget is, and check them off!

  • Christmas Gift List is another gift list and budgeting app that’s even shareable, so if you’re “team shopping,” this one’s got you covered, and will eliminate duplicates (and ugh! returns!)

  • Check out rebate/ shopping apps like Ibotta, Paribus, and Slickdeals, that will not only help you find the best deals, but also get you extra savings and rebates!

Do you have a favorite holiday budget hack? I’d love to hear it!