12/06/2016

Photo of Greenpath financial wellness expert Katie Bossier.How to Maintain Your Budget During the Holidays
By Katie Bossler, GreenPath financial wellness expert

December 6, 2016

The holiday season is upon us, and that likely means extra shopping, gifts and entertaining! Did you know that the average shopper is expecting to spend $1,400 this holiday season, between gifts, travel and entertaining? In order to make your season merry, I've put together a few ideas to help you maintain your budget in December.

  1. Plan ahead. Determine how much you need for the holidays.  Don’t forget that holiday spending includes more than gifts.  We have more get-togethers with friends and family from out of town, and we tend to spend more on gas, since we are driving around trying to find that perfect gift. 
  2. Get creative. Consider homemade presents, like a plate of fresh-baked cookies, and, for a nice personal touch, include the recipe.  Creating a coupon book for chores or maybe even an offer to watch your next door neighbor’s kids, so they can go out shopping, is another great idea.
  3. Give family or group gifts. Think of an experience the whole family can enjoy, such as a pass to a nearby Metro park or gift card to a restaurant or the movies.  For your boss, get together with other co-workers to purchase a gift together.
  4. Research big ticket items.  Keep track of the prices, so you can find who is selling the item for less. Look online and review the store ads.  And don’t forget about those apps that are designed to compare prices at different stores.  Nothing hurts more than to buy an expensive gift, only to find it for less at another store.
  5. Set a limit and stick to it. Remember, spending more on one person means spending less on another.  It is difficult to find a gift that costs the exact amount you want to spend, so one strategy is to give gift cards.  That way you can spend exactly what you intend. Plus, many stores offer perks, like extra gas points, or a discount, the next time you shop.

One last thing to remember during the holiday season: Over time, we look back fondly on the experiences, not just necessarily the gifts! Happy holidays!