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The Nitty Gritty

‘Tis the season for holiday spending panic

Ah, the holidays. It’s a time for seasonal cheer, catching up with family and for a financial panic attack!

If you recently looked at the calendar and realized gift-buying season is closer than you thought, don’t worry. We are here to help you create financial order before you outspend your budget. Follow these steps to keep some extra jingle in your wallet:


Step 1: List all of your expenses
Santa isn’t the only person who can benefit from a holiday gift list.

Are you buying presents for everyone? Hosting a party? Attending a holiday concert or event? Write a list of everything you intend to spend money on (and how much each item costs). Then start to prioritize. You don’t have to cross anything off just yet. Make a mental note of which items are more important.


Step 2: Set a limit
Now it’s time to review your income and any money that you’ve set aside for holiday expenses. Your goal here is to figure out what you can afford without causing yourself financial stress. If you have to dip into your savings, make sure to keep a cushion for any emergency costs that might come up.

If your list exceeds your budget, you can use the prioritized list from Step 1 to help you figure out what to cross off.


Step 3: Consider going cash-only
 The downside to shopping online is that it can be harder to track how much money you’re spending. And it’s even trickier during the holidays when you’re purchasing many items at once.

As an alternative, try using cash. You will know exactly how much money is leaving your wallet. Plus, if you like, this gives you the chance to shop in person and support local businesses.


Step 4: Research seasonal sales & comparison shop
Sales go hand in hand with the holidays. This is when many retailers make a large portion of their annual revenue, so they want to attract as much business as possible.

Unless you are searching for a super unique gift, your desired item is probably available from multiple retailers, but how do you find the best deals? Sign up for email alerts and follow brands on social media. You will be the first to find out about those special seasonal sales. Make sure you visit different websites and do some research to find the best deal. You should also pay attention to Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions with an aggregator site like RetailMeNot. Keep in mind, these sales may only last for a limited time. And be aware of the fine print on coupons. Read it before you stand in a long checkout line.


Step 5: Map out Black Friday shopping
Once your sale research is done, map out which stores you need to go to for specific items on Black Friday, keeping in mind each store’s hours. This will help you be efficient and stay sane in the crowded stores, without going over your budget.