The following is a guest post by Melissa Schraiber who writes for The Fat Wallet. If you would like to write an article for Money Q&A, please visit our Guest Posting Guidelines page.
The holidays are upon us. Or, at least that’s the way it feels. While many people start thinking about the winter holidays earlier, the season gets underway in earnest just after Halloween. That’s when the stores start putting out big holiday displays, and you can’t look at the TV without catching a holiday-themed show or ad.
No matter what your plans are this season, setting a budget and actually sticking to it is going to be very important. As you start planning for this important (and often expensive) time of the year, keep these tips in mind and start preparing today so you can go holiday shopping without breaking your budget.
Holiday Shopping Without Breaking Your Budget
Make a Plan
It is important that you develop a plan for the holidays with your family or spouse. While the holidays can be expensive, if you work out a plan to divide the costs up over the next couple of months, the sting will be less severe.
Some families prefer to purchase one gift a week to stock up while others may take advantage of layaway programs to spread the cost over time. And, don’t forget that saving for next year’s holiday shopping should start immediately after the new year. Save a little along every month to take the sting out of a big bite in your family’s monthly budget.
What if you could do your shopping without ever waiting in line? While shopping online is easy, it can be a great money saver too! You can often save on the hottest gifts for the holidays by stacking coupon codes with deals. If you’re a procrastinator, you’ll love December 18th.
It has been unofficially designated as “Free Shipping Day.” Many of the top retailers offer free shipping (among other deals) on this day. There are a number of tools available to allow you to compare prices online too. So you never worry that you are paying too much.
The idea of Black Friday causes soaring stress levels in some and intense excitement in others. Whether you are a fan of this big sale day or not, you have to admit that you can save money by shopping the sales. By planning ahead, you’ll get the best deals and protect yourself from making impulse purchases.
Pour over the deals and make decisions ahead of time. Look over the Walmart Black Friday ad ahead of time and compare the deals there with those available at the mall or other stores. You may be able to do most of your Black Friday shopping in one stop this way.
Finally, get creative and you may be able to save big on gifts. Browse Pinterest or other similar websites, and you are sure to find some projects that get your creative juices flowing.
While you may not have the time or inclination to make homemade gifts for everyone on your shopping list, just making a few can save you a bit of money, impress your friends and family, and help your holiday shopping without breaking your budget.
The holidays should be a fun time that allows you the chance to spend time with those you love. Stressing over money and gifts is not part of the plan.
Don’t fall into the trap of waiting until the last minute and overspending on your holiday gifts. Get started today and spend a little extra time on preparation. You will have a great holiday season, and you won’t have to face a huge pile of credit card bills as you ring in the New Year.
The following article was a guest post by Missy Schraiber who writes for The Fat Wallet. Missy loves the cheerful holiday season and gift-giving. She is constantly trying to find the balance between her frugal side and her love of shopping and fashion.