The holiday season is here! And so is your guide to creating a reasonable holiday shopping budget and sticking to it! This is your key to saving money this holiday season.
Budgeting is incredibly important. Without a budget, you could potentially spend way over the amount you had intended.
Imagine: You go out shopping, picking up whatever you think your friends and family will like. You get to the register. Your total is double the amount you had imagined, but now you have to check out, and you’re mentally attached to the gifts you carefully picked out for your loved ones.
Personally, that is my worst nightmare, and budgeting can help you avoid it! So as your frugal friend, let me help you save money this holiday season.
Determine how much you want to spend in total
Financial advisors told Utah State University that your holiday budget should not exceed 1.5% of your income. However, as college students– who probably make less than $10k a year– it may make more sense to disregard this advice and look at your discretionary income.
Pinnacle Financial Partners describes discretionary income as money you have left after paying all of your expenses. From this amount of money, determine how much you want to spend on holiday shopping.
This may range anywhere from $50 to $400, depending on how much you are comfortable spending, how nice the gifts you intend on buying are, and how many people you are shopping for.
Allot a set budget for each person
Make a list of everyone you want, or need, to buy gifts for. Then, you want to divvy up your total budget among everyone you want to buy presents for.
You have to be a little ruthless here, essentially ranking the people in your life. Typically, you’ll get nicer gifts for people you are closer to, so budget more money for them.
Remember that it’s possible to get a nice gift for someone for under $15! You don’t have to spend a fortune on everyone, or anyone for that matter.
Do your research
Take the time to price-match the gifts you want to buy. There is no worse feeling than buying something than finding it cheaper somewhere else!
I suggest searching for an item on Google, Target, Walmart, and Amazon to compare the prices. If an item is less mainstream, search it on Pinterest to see if it is available on another website for a different price.
Take advantage of sales and, obviously, go for the cheapest option!
Stick to your plan
You have a budget for a reason—to save money! What good is a budget if you don’t stick to it?
Remember shipping costs! If an item is in price range, but the shipping puts it over the end, the item is not within budget! Find a new option, or move money from one person to accommodate the extra costs. Your net costs should remain the same!
Track your spending
Rather than referencing my credit card bill or keeping a loose list, I track my spending by writing how much I actually spent next to how much I planned to spend per person.
Tracking your spending will ensure that you can stick to your budget. You can also figure out if you have any extra money.