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Not overspending during the holidays

How do I stay on budget during the holidays?

The holiday season, also known as the “debt season,” is just around the corner. Sure, there are some magical, feel-good moments: the joy you feel when you find that perfect gift for your significant other; getting your hands on that toy your kid is eager to get; and you can’t forget about those gift cards for your coworkers. And then there’s the inevitable and painful moment where you have to reckon with your bank statement at the end of the month. 

The good news is that the moment that causes so much panic and anxiety doesn’t have to be part of the deal. There is, in fact, a way to enjoy the holidays without maxing out your credit cards and ending up with a heap of debt. It all comes down to staying organized, diligent and mindful of expenses to avoid going over your holiday budget.

Create a budget early

Try to anticipate how much you can afford to spend before the holiday season begins. If you estimate how much your holiday expenses might add up to be ahead of time and start putting aside a bit of money towards your budget accordingly, you can avoid overspending and unburden yourself of the stress that comes with it. Use the CIBC Budget CalculatorOpens a new window in your browser. to try to create a clear and cohesive plan months before the holiday season. 

Do your research

You can avoid overspending and straying from your budget by doing some research before your holiday shopping. Start by pinpointing the stores that offer the best holiday deals. If you already have specific gift ideas for certain people, try hunting down coupons. Finally, make sure to check the online stores of your favourite brands and retailers as many of them will likely have good deals before and during the holidays.

Consider homemade gifts

Sometimes, a homemade gift can be more valuable than any gift money can buy because it’s personal and comes from the heart. Buying a gift certainly involves a personal touch, too, since you still need to put some thought into it. But really, nothing can quite show how much you care about someone like a thoughtful gift you made by hand. 

Draw names for extended family

Most of us are guilty of buying mundane gifts for extended family members every year just to be polite or just because it’s tradition. Why not break that tradition for once? Pick names out of a hat with your family and set a budget. This way, everyone is only buying one gift for one person. Focusing on getting one gift for one relative will put less of a dent in your wallet and allow you to put more thought and energy into finding the perfect one.

Stay organized 

The holiday season can get so busy that we sometimes tend to spend way more on everyday items than we normally do just for the sake of convenience — like ordering in or paying to have your gifts wrapped. These are unnecessary expenses that you can dodge by simply staying organized. One great way to at least tackle overspending on food during this busy time is to meal-prep for the entire week. Where your actual holiday shopping is concerned, try to map out the gifts you want to get ahead of time to do your shopping outside of peak mall hours to save some time.

Manage expectations

If you want to cut down on expenses this year, you either need to compromise on the quantity or quality of gifts. One way to do this and ease your anxiety as a result is to talk about your holiday shopping strategy with your friends and family beforehand to manage their expectations. 

Track your spending

A sensible way to avoid going over your holiday budget is to actively track your spending during the holiday season. You can easily do this through the CIBC Mobile Banking® App. Writing down what you spend everyday is an option, but if you have trouble with that, there are several apps that can do most of the work for you. 

Don’t forget about additional expenses

Try to account for some extra costs such as work parties, wrapping paper, seasonal decorations, gifts for teachers, maybe a new outfit for a New Year’s Eve party and so on. These are expenses we tend to overlook while creating a budget, which leads to overspending.

The holiday season is a special time that brings friends and family together regardless of how much money you spend on gifts. By keeping these tips in mind, you can enjoy a jolly, stress-free (for the most part) holiday season without wrecking your mood and credit score