It’s easy to go overboard with your spending during the holidays. The parties, food, gifts and shipping costs all can snowball and add up quickly. And this year, your holiday budget will likely not go as far as in past years.
“Shipping is going to cost more this holiday season, and supply chain disruptions have practically assured discounts may not be the best we’ve seen, while some items may not be discounted at all,” said consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews. “Prepare yourself ahead of time for possibly having to spend full price on items — not only will this make your budget more realistic but you’ll also avoid sticker shock when you start shopping.”
With some creativity, extra legwork and willingness to sacrifice, you can do all your holiday shopping for less than $1,000 this year. Here’s how you can keep your holiday budget in check.
“There are going to be those in your circle you feel like you must buy gifts for, and others that probably aren’t as necessary,” said consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews.”There may also be multiple invitations for parties, so setting your priorities ahead of time will ensure your holiday spending goes toward the festivities and people you care most about during the holiday season. By putting those first, you’ll find it easier to stay on budget in general and keep expenses lower.”
With a goal of not spending more than $1,000, you’ll need a budget. Here’s one way to divide up your spending.
“First, make a list of all the folks you plan on giving a Christmas gift,” said Karen Ford, master financial coach and author. “Secondly, divide the amount of people by $800 and that is how much the limit will be on each person. Certainly you can spend a little less or little more, as long as you don’t go over the $800.
“The remaining $200, will be for your holiday gift wrap, baking, cooking and holiday attire for any Christmas party you plan on attending.”
“When it comes to gifts, write down a couple of options for each person so you are not tied to a single item and are tempted to overspend if it is too expensive,” said Amir Hemmat, CEO of Welcome Tech. “This way, if the first option is too pricey you have a second gift option already figured out that can work as well. Having multiple backup ideas for gifts will allow you to compare prices and have choices.”
“Do your research,” said Hemmat. “Before purchasing your gifts, make sure you compare prices from different stores and are aware of any valuable offers available such as store coupons, manufacturers discounts, two-for-ones or future savings.”
Tyler Martin, founder and certified business coach at ThinkTyler, suggested following your favorite businesses and stores on social media. “The majority of brands today use social media to stay in touch with their customers,” Martin said. “So, follow your favorite brands and stores on social media, and sign up for their emails and newsletters to be notified of any bargains, flash sales, and other opportunities to save money on holiday shopping. This way, you can ensure that you receive the best deal on your gifts and avoid buyer’s remorse later on.”
Olivia Tan, a Florida-based personal finance coach and cofounder at CocoFax, said to sign up for coupon alerts now. “If you have a general plan for which retailers you’re going to visit on Black Friday, sign up for the stores’ deal alerts,” Tan said. “By doing so, you’ll get in-store and online coupons sent to your email inbox that you can redeem on Black Friday and beyond. Basically, you’re automating your savings and guaranteeing you shop with a coupon in hand.”
Ford suggested shopping secondhand for certain items you may need for the holidays, which can really help cut costs when you’re trying to keep to a $1,000 budget.
For example, if you need a new tree this year or an outfit for a Christmas party you plan on attending, Ford said: “Consider a consignment shop. Many of these stores will have just what you’re looking for for pennies on the dollar.”
“Although some [gift wrap] can be so beautiful, do we really need to spend an outrageous amount of money on gift bags, bows and wrap that will be thrown away?” Ford queried. “No! Go to a discount dollar store or marked-down store and gather up your gift wrap, bags and bows.”
Ford also suggests checking your closet at home to see if you have holiday gift bags from the previous year that you can reuse.
Even when you prioritize in the beginning, you can still exceed a holiday budget of $1,000. Here’s what to do if that happens.
If you price out all of these things and you’re over budget, then consider chopping out one entire category (it’s easier this way),” said Kari Lorz, certified financial education instructor and founder at Money for the Mamas. “Say this year, you want to prioritize your family’s trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. That may mean that you don’t buy any new decorations this year, you skip going to holiday parties or you attend only free holiday events with no gift or food required. It’s a trade-off, a balancing act.”