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Your Financial Life
By Olga Dow / Dec 11, 2014

5 Ways to Actually Stick to Your Holiday Budget

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Now that we’ve shown you how to create your holiday budget, we’re going to show you how to actually stick to it.

According to the National Retail Federation, sales this holiday season (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) will increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, higher than last year’s 3.1 percent increase during the same time of year.

This is great for the economy, but making sure the extra spending doesn’t take its toll on your own budget is the real key.

Survive the holidays without breaking your budget

Just because you have a budget doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Check out these five tips to help you stick to your budget and survive without going into debt.

1)     Check your list more than twice. Once you know exactly how much you can afford to spend and what you want to spend on whom, write it down and keep the list somewhere safe in arm’s reach – like your purse or wallet. Then keep track of your spending as you go. This will force you to check it every time you’re tempted to buy another gift and help keep you from going over your budget. Not sure how to figure out your budget? Read our
5 steps to create your holiday budget blog.

2)     Pay cash and don’t use your credit card. It is very easy to stretch your budget with credit cards, but when you use cash, it is much easier to stick to your budgeted dollar amount because when the money runs out, you can’t purchase any more. One idea is to put the allotted amount of money in envelopes that are labeled with each person’s name.

3)     Put together a holiday outfit from your closet instead of buying new clothes. Fall and winter items often share the holiday colors. Mix and match to make an outfit out of the apparel already in your closet; you may be surprised.

4)     Buy items on sale only if they’re on your list. If a gift on your list is on sale, buy it; however, if you’re buying items not on your list just because it’s on sale, you may end up going over budget.

5)     If you are traveling for the holidays, look for ways to save money. Stay with family or friends if possible. If that isn’t an option, negotiate hotel rates. There may be an option to save on rooms that haven’t been advertised. Also, look for rental car deals. Price all companies because the ones that are not advertised as much might have lower prices. Use coupons when eating out. Many restaurants have printable coupons or offer deals online. Check Groupon or LivingSocial for discounts.

Use your credit as a last resort

If you end up needing to use your credit card after all, take a look at your receipts and your balance often to make sure you aren’t going overboard. The trick is to only charge what you can pay off at the next billing cycle.

If you can’t pay your bill all at once, plug your numbers into this credit card payoff calculator to see how long it will take you to get your balance back to zero.

Rein in your holiday spending this year and keep your finances feeling festive.

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