Success in your personal financial goals is impossible without the all-important practice of sticking to a budget. Even if you have a massive source of income, you won’t be able to succeed without formulating a budget and then consistently sticking to it. Part of this process involves planning for annual expenses by putting away monthly amounts to prepare for them, paying yourself first by putting money in savings during each paycheck to grow your net worth, and having an emergency fund to pay for those unplanned expenses whenever they pop up. December can be one of the biggest budget-busters of the year and can derail your financial goals. Here are 5 ways to save this holiday season:
1. Establish a Holiday Fund. While it may be too late to do this year, you can start planning for next year’s holiday expenses by establishing a Holiday fund. Giving gifts or paying travel expenses are activities that you can plan and budget for just like anything else. If you started setting aside $200 per month in January, then you’d have $2,200 by the time Black Friday rolls around next year.
2. Snag those deals. Maybe you’re not the type to go shopping at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day (or maybe it’ll be 4 PM next year), but you can always take advantage of online sales or even the deals occurring the weeks after. If you’re really into planning ahead, you could buy up next year’s gifts right after Christmas when stores dramatically increase the deals in order to liquidate inventory.
3. Don’t let expectations govern your decisions. Just because it seems like everyone else is getting the latest smartphone, robotic vacuum, or self-driving toaster doesn’t mean you have to. Discuss how you want to give gifts with your family as well. Perhaps you want to draw names instead of everyone getting everyone else a gift.
4. Consider giving this holiday season. Giving to your church or synagogue, a favorite charity, or non-profit is always a valuable experience, and you can claim it as a deduction if you decide to itemize on your tax return.
5. Always be consistent. If your financial success depends mostly on your ability to stick to a budget and the hardest time to stick to a budget is through the holidays, then now is when you must be most consistent. Do whatever it takes push through and achieve your goals this holiday season. You want to start next year off on the right foot instead of trying to play catch-up from the very beginning.