It seems like the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier every year. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) holiday forecast, about 40 percent of shoppers start buying holiday gifts by Halloween.
And the longer shopping season means that the holidays are a crucial time of year to rein in budgets and aim for smarter spending. With a few simple money-saving strategies, the holidays don’t have to break the bank and can still be the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Make a list (and check it twice).
Itemize all holiday expenses and assign a dollar value to each, no matter how big or small. Total it all up and decide if it’s doable for a holiday budget. If the sum’s ringing in a little too high, go back through and make some adjustments. Find a number and stick to it.
2. Start early and spread out expenses.
Take advantage of sales and promotions running throughout the year to plan ahead for those holiday gift purchases. Instead of condensing all holiday shopping into the month of December, consider ticking a few holiday purchases off the list in phases. That way, the spending will be more manageable.
3. Search for deals and opportunities to price match.
Put that smartphone to good use. In-store or online, research those hot holiday items and find out who has the goods for the best price. Some retailers are willing to price match, too, so take the time to snag those deals, if possible.
4. Have a plan for paying off holiday debt.
Pay off the most expensive debt first. Credit cards or loans with the highest interest rates get top billing. Pay more than the minimum payment to start making a dent in the total balance. Pledge to do this month after month and watch that post-holiday balance shrink.
5. Keep tabs on credit card spending and schedule automatic payments.
Credit cards are a great resource to help manage holiday spending and finance larger purchases. Just make sure to keep the spending in check and pay down the balance as soon as possible. Set up payments at the same time each month to keep interest rates low and credit scores high.
Wrap up the holiday season with a firm grasp on your financials. Check out more of Comenity’s financial resources.