Year after year, shoppers find themselves buried in debt come January after a festive holiday season. Always ending up over budget, they seem surprised that they spent more than they had originally intended. Financial advisors and common sense tell holiday shoppers that one of the best ways to save money is by creating a budget. But the question becomes: How much should I spend?
Erin Huffstetler from www.about.com has created a how-to guide about calculating an appropriate budget for holiday spending.
1. List whom you want to shop for
Print out a copy of the Holiday Gift Spending Worksheet, and use it to list everyone whom you plan to shop for (friends, relatives, teachers, pets, et cetera).
2. Determine how much you can afford to spend
Review your finances to determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts. Set this figure as your overall holiday gift budget.
3. Divide your gift budget among the people on your gift list
Look over your gift list, and decide how much you would like to spend on each person. Then, total up the expected spending for all gifts, and make sure it does not exceed the gift budget that you established in step two. Rework your figures as necessary.
4. Brainstorm gift ideas
Go through your list again, and jot down gift ideas that fall within the budget range that you’ve set for each person.
5. Track your spending throughout the season
As you purchase gifts, note their costs in the “actual pending” column of the worksheet. Then, calculate how much over or under budget you are with each one.
6. Tweak your budget to cover any instances of overspending
Don’t panic if you overspend on a gift; just scale back your spending on another gift to make up for it.
1. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your budget – a good budget is always evolving.
2. Hang on to a copy of your gift budget after the holidays are over; it will be helpful in planning next year’s budget.
3. Use the Holiday Gift Spending Worksheet to establish an overall holiday budget.