Tips to Stay on Financial Track
The Holiday Season is upon us. It’s a time to spend with family and friends, sharing food, sharing laughs and making memories. It’s also a time for gift giving, which can make a dent in your wallet and affect your finances. As a homeowner, it can be extra hard to balance your regular monthly bills with all of the added expenses that come with this season. Here are a few pointers to help you make sure that you don’t break your bank, but still have an awesome holiday.
First and most importantly – make a budget and stick to the budget. Sit down, make a list of who you want to buy gifts for and figure out how much you can comfortably spend on each gift. Make sure you STICK TO YOUR BUDGET. That can be hard to do with all the “bargains” and “deals” this time of year and, of course, we all want to find that “perfect” gift. But again, STICK TO YOUR BUDGET! Do not let these “bargains” and “deals” get in the way of your financial dreams or monthly bills.
Second – do not let guilt break your budget. Sometimes you will see other gifts as better than yours and feel the need to buy something bigger or more expensive. DO NOT LET THE GUILT BREAK YOUR BUDGET – STICK TO YOUR BUDGET. It truly is the thought that counts. If you feel you must do something more, make a plate of cookies or a homemade card. Or if the gift is for a child, plan a fun, inexpensive experience that will create memories more than the year’s hottest toy. It is not necessary to keep up with the spending of others.
Third – track your credit card use properly. It’s easy to swipe that card and not think about the bill until next month. But what happens next month when you get the bill and it’s twice as much as what you thought because you did not track your spending? When making your budget, list which gifts you can pay using cash, which you can pay using a debit card and which you can pay using a credit card AND STICK TO THE BUDGET.
Fourth – don’t forget about other holiday & winter expenses. When making your budget, remember to factor in other expenses for the holidays. Will you be traveling to more places to spend time with family and friends? If so, you need to budget for higher gas expense for the month, possibly a hotel stay. These expenses can drain your well planned budget. Maybe you have family coming to stay with you, again you need to factor in extra groceries or higher utility bills. Do you & your kids need new winter coats? Put it in the budget!
Lastly - remember to ENJOY the holidays. This is your time to spend with families & friends, and make memories that will last. Create traditions that you will have to look forward to every year, instead of dreading December because you’re worrying about money.
The common factor in all of these tips is the budget. Make one up for the month, factor in all possible expenses, and STICK. TO. IT. It can’t be stressed enough! Tracking where your money needs to go for the month will help you stay organized amidst the holiday chaos and ensure that you stay on track with your regular monthly payments. Not much else is worse than stressing about money during a time that is supposed to be joyful.