Ah, money. It’s just a tool, just a random item that we all agree represents value, and yet it carries HUGE emotional weight. What do married couples fight over the most? Sex and money. Why is Black Friday such a huge event? Money. What can ruin the holidays faster than your bigoted Aunt Hates-Everyone? Looming credit card debt!
We all know the key to managing our money is a budget. But how can we stick to it? I make budgets all the time, but even when I don’t face an emergency or other crisis, I still manage to break my budget regularly. (Hey, nobody’s perfect!) So here are three ways to stick to your holiday budget no matter what!
1. Use nothing but cold hard cash.
That’s right. Pull out the cash required for your entire holiday budget, and spend until there is nothing left. At that point, stop spending! It may sound impossible, but you will actually spend less money if you are using cash. You will also plan more carefully and think more about each purchase. If you don’t want to carry around a whole bunch of money, then take out a pro-rated amount each week, or keep the cash at home and take only what you need with you.
2. Use just one credit card.
OK, so you’re laughing at my cash suggestion. That’s fine – use a single credit card instead. But follow these guidelines: use ONLY that card and use it ONLY for holiday purchases. Every evening, go online and check your balance against your budget. Once you’ve spent your budget, put the card away in a desk drawer. By tracking your spending daily you’ll be much more likely to avoid surprises or impulse buys.
3. Use a shopping list.
We all have fallen into the Target pit at some point: you go in to buy some Kleenex and walk out with a cart full of stuff and a $200 hole in your wallet. This is where your list comes in. Every time you enter a store, make sure you have a list. Seriously, don’t even enter the store without a list. Every company out there has spent millions of dollars in research and advertising designed with the sole purpose of separating you from your money! So make a list before you go into the mall, or before you open the Amazon browser window. If you see an item that wasn’t on the list, walk away. If you didn’t know you needed it before you walked in the store, you didn’t need it at all!
Any thoughts or suggestions to add? Let me hear from you!
Want some help?
Come to my Autumn Oasis and learn how to Create Holiday Calm.
We’ll set holiday priorities, learn how to manage expectations, set a budget, and learn healthy eating strategies!