By Kayleigh Yerdon, Summer 2015 Intern, Cornell University When it comes to holiday spending, we know that the first big steps are making and sticking to a budget. We usually start planning our budgets by choosing who to buy gifts for and how much to spend on each person. Yet, every year, even with planned budgets, nearly 46% of shoppers overspend their budgets. What do shoppers overlook in their holiday spending?
Here are 9 things you may want to remember when planning your holiday budget:
- Holidays are not just about the gifts!
This is one of the biggest things that people need to realize. Beyond gifts, there are many other things throughout this season that you will end up spending money on like travel, food, and hopefully your investing portfolio!
- Holidays are about the food.
If you come from a household where food is one of the most important parts of any holiday, you probably know that food can also be one of the most expensive parts of any holiday. Keep this in mind when you’re forming your spending plan. Remember to keep your eyes on grocery deals at your local supermarket, too!
- Shopping at the last minute will decrease your selectivity.
Give your budget a time frame or you will end up grabbing whatever you can at the last minute – regardless of the price. This is a surefire way to break your budget.
- But if you do wait until the last minute, take advantage of free shipping!
On December 18th this year, the (currently) 676 merchants listed here have agreed to provide free shipping with no minimum purchase value. All deliveries are guaranteed to be made by the 24th of December.
- The thought is what counts.
Think about the best gifts you’ve received over the years. Chances are the ones that come to mind were not the most expensive ones, but the ones that were the most personal. A little sentimentality goes a long way and can help you really keep to your budget.
- Factor in your travel costs.
Gas is expensive. Flights are expensive. Try to minimize these costs to the best of your ability. Fill up your gas tank before you leave your town – you know where the cheapest station is and gas stations off of the highway are usually more expensive. Read up on cheap airline deals on sites like CheapAir and know when the best times to fly are. (Insider tip: flying on the morning of the holiday may be a great option if you’re looking to save a lot of money and still make it to your festivities!)
- Shopping in stores? Use these tips.
You can friend the salesperson. This sounds stupid, but by going a little out of your way to ask questions, you will really start to save big. Ask when the next shipments of merchandise will arrive – that way you’ll know when the current merchandise will go on sale and be the first to hit the discounts!
- Take advantage of holiday events.
You can check your local schools, libraries, or community groups for a calendar of the nearest holiday events. Chances are that many of these events will be free and they can be a great way for your family to get in on the holiday cheer!
- Give the gift of saving or investing.
This is a gift that will keep on giving. For a child, you can start them out with a small savings account and a little cash. This will incentivize them to start saving money at a young age. For adults, friends, and family, give them a small monetary head start and some tips about opening their own investing portfolio. In the long run, you will have given the gift of a lifetime.
As we can see, gift shopping is only the beginning. There are so many aspects of holiday spending that we need to consider, such as travel, food, shipping fees, and event fees, and possible discounts, among other things. These expenses are not normally the first things that come to mind when we think of holiday spending, but they can drastically change our realistic holiday budgets. Sticking to a budget is impossible without thinking every aspect of your spending through first, so we hope these tips have helped you start to do that. Happy holidays!