Now is the time to plan for holiday spending


Holiday overspending is often cited as one of the biggest reasons that people struggle financially in the New Year. Even though we are just a few days away from Black Friday there is still time to make smart financial plans for this holiday season.
What are the most important financial moves to make for the holidays?
It starts with having an overall budget on how much you can spend on the holidays without putting yourself in a bad money position. This means knowing how much savings and/or debt you are willing to use for the holidays and what impact that will have on your situation in the New Year.
What should be included in a holiday shopping budget?
It starts with making a list of everyone who is on your gift list. We often forget to include service professionals, co-workers, bosses, teachers and holiday party gifts in our budget and these can often be a significant expense. The second most important information to include is an amount you plan to spend on each person. Just an overall budget isn’t going to be as helpful as a detailed budget.
Is there more you can do to make the budget realistic?
It starts with listing gift ideas for each person on the list and looking online for costs for these items.  This will confirm your budget is realistic and also help you avoid impulse buys that are over your individual budget allotment. An added benefit is you will have an idea of where to get the best deal on what you want to buy for each person. 
What advice do you have for those who can’t control their impulse buying habits?
Make a list of what you will have to give up if you overspend on the holidays buying gifts especially if you are using credit to finance the purchases.  Carry that list with you when you go shopping. If you do go over your budget for a person mark something off the list of things you will have to give up.  You are at least making a conscious decision to overspend and won’t be surprised after the holidays.
Is there something that is often overlooked during the holidays that has a big budget impact?
The biggest is all the expenses of non-gift items like decorations, extra food, and other holiday traditions that can be expensive. These items are even more impulse buying oriented and can be more costly than shopping for gifts. Planning for these items can really make a difference in not letting the holidays become a financial burden.

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