• Sticking to a Budget During the Holidays

    November 17, 2020

    Here we are just weeks away from the holidays and the vast majority of people haven't even thought about their holiday budget. It's important to understand and be aware of your holiday spending habits and budgeting during this time of gift giving and traveling.

    Your budget needs to happen to the holidays, so the holidays don't happen to your budget.

    There. We said it. Now, here are some tips on how to actually do that so the end of 2020 can be a celebration instead of sadness (and debt).


    1. Budget. Always, always, always make a budget for holiday spending. We're not just talking gifts. We mean parties, donations, travel, special matching Christmas jammies and excessive amounts of egg nog . . . if that's your thing. If it isn't a regular purchase (think what you'd buy January–October), you need it in your holiday budget. Use this Holiday Budget from SmartDollar to get started.

    2. Actually stick to your holiday budget. Look, there's plenty of evidence out there that too much egg nog is a bad thing. But sticking to your budget for all the other things has all kinds of benefits too. Your January budget will only be as good as your holiday budget allows it to be.

    3. Block out Black Friday. It may be a little easier staying out of stores this year, but those online deals will be all up in your phones, tablets and computers. If there is something on sale that you've budgeted for (no cheating now), go for it! Just get in the habit of saying no. It's the perfect time of year to practice.

    4. Consider pausing your gym membership. Y'all. It's downright difficult to work out during the holiday season. Whether it's all the food or all the fun, there's just not enough time and motivation in the world for many of us to justify paying what we pay for a gym this time of year. The good news is that a lot of gyms allow you to pause your membership for a few months if you need to, which could put an extra $100/month in your pocket. Of course, for a lot of folks, hitting the gym is the only way they can de-stress after being around the in-laws (looking at you, Aunt Tina). So, choose wisely here.

    5. Take it easy on your utilities. Is it balmy and in the 70s during your winter? Turn the A/C off. Does it only get into the 50s at night? Turn down the heat and grab an extra blanket. You can also start using cold water. No, we don't mean a cold shower. But maybe try a shorter one? Washing your clothes in cold water saves energy, which in turn saves you money on your electric bill. That means more money for PRESENTS!!! Ahem . . . sorry. Got a little carried away there.

    6. Roll over extra budget money. If you come to the end of your month under budget, don't go and blow it on random stuff you don't need! Just gently *roll it over* to create more room for yourself in the next month's budget or in your holiday budget. Brilliant, we know.

    7. Sell stuff you don't need. You're not the only one looking to save money this time of year. People all over are looking for used gifts, an extra chair for their family Christmas, or another pie dish because Aunt Tina "wants pecan pie not pumpkin pie." We're not bitter. Bottom line is this: You probably have a treasure trove of things other people are looking for this time of year. So, go through your stuff, set up shop online, and give your holiday budget a boost.

    What is SmartDollar?

    SmartDollar is a Take Action activity included in the 2020-2021 HealthyReturns program. By using this financial wellness program, you can take control of your money, get out of debt, and use a step-by-step plan to address personal finances in every stage of life. Earn 50 Take Action points by reaching 3,500 SmartDollar points by May 14, 2021.