Budgeting for the Holidays

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With the holidays come a lot of extra expenses. Not only are there gifts you want to buy, but you may have to spend money on parties, traveling, and decorations, among other things. Each one of these can be unexpected expenses and if they are not properly budgeted for, you could be in for a rude awakening once the holiday season ends. In order to avoid that, you need to plan ahead. Below are some basic budgeting tips to help get you through the holidays.

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  1. How Much Can You Afford? – The first thing you want to figure out is exactly how much you can afford to spend. Take a look at your current budget and see what kind of money you will have left over for the holiday seasons. If you don’t already have a monthly budget, you should make one as soon as you can. Knowing the amount you can spend is vital to ensuring that you don’t go over.
  2. Divide It Up – Once you know the total amount you can afford to spend, you’ll want to divide it up into different categories. Make a category for presents, travel, parties, decorations, and anything else you may be spending money on. Set a budget for each one of the things on your list based on your overall budget.
  3. Save Up – If the amounts you set don’t seem like they are going to be enough, then you can start saving up for the holidays now. Think about how much more money you are going to need, and how long you have until the holidays arrive. If you can put a little money away each week, it should allow you to increase the values you set on your budget.
  4. Track It – As the holiday season moves along, make sure you are tracking your expenses. If you see that you are getting close to one of your limits, you’ll have to cut back in that area. The budget only works if you continuously look at it and keep it up to date. If you spend over a limit, or under a limit, be sure to note this number.
  5. Tweak It – If you end up overspending in one category, don’t panic just yet. Just be sure to scale your spending back in another area to make up for it. As long as your total amount stays under your original amount, you should be okay.

If you can follow the above advice, you may find the holiday season a bit more manageable. With proper planning there is no reason why you shouldn’t have the funds that you need during the holidays, without having to go into debt immediately after. Just remember, a budget only works if you actually stick to it. If you just write the numbers down and then forget about them, your budget will never work. You have to force yourself to stick to it. If it helps, keep it on a small piece of paper inside your wallet, or have a copy of it on your smartphone. Whatever it is you do, just be sure to stick to your budget!

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