With the kids back at school and the weather changing come thoughts of the impending holiday season. If you are like many families you will need to stretch your holiday shopping budget. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the festive time of years gone by, just that it will take planning and ingenuity. Here are 7 ways to prepare for the holidays now and get a jump-start on planning the holiday celebration.
Make a detailed holiday budget include everything that can be thought of that will be an expense. Start with what is already known. Looking at last year’s expenses will show where you splurged and overspent and give you clues as to how to shave dollars out of this year’s expense. Don’t forget to include things like cards and postage. Estimate the cost of the entire meal being planned from appetizers to desserts. If travel will be a big part of your the holiday, estimate your travel expenses including gas, airfare, accomodations, food, etc.
Review those items to be reused from previous holidays. Check the lights and replace bulbs instead of buying new strings. If one need new items, try to shop for them before the actual in-store holiday season (stores have set times for different holiday promotions to begin) and take advantage of early sales.
Taking holiday pictures at an earlier time will avoid the high prices of last minute photography sessions. If you normally use a family photo for greeting cards, you can sometimes get a better deal in the off season.
Include the family
Make saving this season a family affair. Talk with the kids on ways to save cash for the holiday spending.
Lists are an excellent way to prepare for shopping. A detailed shopping list will keep you focused on the items that you’ve budgeted for, while helping you to avoid buying temptations.
Avoid the stress and strain of overcrowded malls and stores. Shopping early gives you the time to comparison shop and purchase items on sale or at a discount.
Keep track of spending
It is always a good idea to keep holiday money separate from the rest of the household budget. This will keep you from dipping into cash that is earmarked for household expenses and will likewise help you to stay on budget.