5 Tips to Stick to Your Budget During the Holidays

Hi there! I know we are deep into the holiday shopping season, but we are certainly not in the clear just yet.  So here are 5 tips to help lesson the blow to your wallet during the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Make a budget.

This may sound like a no brainer, but I have been guilty myself of not making a budget at all.  Then I look at my credit card statement and wonder how all of those “here and there” splurges added up to an astronomical balance. Is there really a reason to buy a Starbucks drink a day just because they have red cups? (yes) Not really. There are tons of holiday traps that we fall into. Every single purchase adds up, no matter how small.

2. Hold yourself accountable

Trust me I can rationalize just about anything.  And I mean anything.  But that doesn’t do me any favors when I’m trying to stick to my budget. No one else is going to pay your credit card statement in January, and I’m betting one of your New Year’s resolutions is to save money, get out of debt, etc. Do yourself a favor, don’t start 2015 in the hole.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

3. Learn how to use Microsoft Excel

The basic functions of Microsoft excel provide everything you need to get your budget started.  Maybe I am partial to Excel because I use it almost daily, but it’s so simple to track just about anything in a spreadsheet. If you are extremely Excel averse, there are also a handful of free apps that can help you as well:

Toshl

Level Money

Mint Personal Finance

4. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.

OK, the reality is we are all going to do a little shopping for ourselves during the holidays.  Whether we get gift certificates, or can’t resist a cute Christmas decoration or a shirt at the mall (or target).  But hey, that’s what the holidays are for, right?  Splurging a little on your diet and your wallet.  My best advice for both is if you are not absolutely in love with it (aka – if you have to even think twice about it) then do not get it.  Personally, I know when I find “the one” – whether it’s a shirt, a Christmas tree, etc. – but I am still constantly tempted with imposters.  So when it comes to shopping (and food), if I have to even double take – I probably don’t want it that bad, and I will regret the purchase.  Here’s the great part – if I go home and regret not making the purchase (or eating the donut) – guess what?  It will still be there.

5. Use the power of tunnel vision

Don’t venture into the mall without a purpose.  Unless you have budgeted a small shopping spree, it will not end well.  So let’s assume you’re walking in with a purpose (to buy a particular gift for someone?).  Now here is the key – do not forget that purpose!  Don’t even look at that super cute purse that’s staring you down when you walk into Nordstrom’s. Put it on your wish list, and do some research when you get home.

The struggle is real, but stay strong!  We’re almost there.

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