Though it may only be October, it's important to start planning your holiday spending.
For the average American family, the holiday season is often the costliest time of the year. Last year, shoppers spent over $800 dollars on holiday shopping, on average. Across the nation, shoppers spent $616.1 billion.
This year, total holiday spending nationwide is expected to increase to $630.5 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
In order to keep your holiday spending reasonable, consider taking the following steps:
List Your Planned Expenses
The first step for any smart holiday shopper is to create a holiday budget.
Write out your planned holiday-related expenses. These may include:
- Holiday Cards
- Charitable Donations
While deciding how much to spend on the holidays is an individual decision, it is commonly recommended that buyers aim to spend no more than 1.5 percent of their income for holiday purchases.
Depending on your priorities, you may decide to spend more in one of those categories than others. Before you start shopping, try writing down some preliminary spending limits in each category, so you can keep track of where your money is going.
As you do your holiday shopping, be sure to keep checking your spending to make sure you're staying within the limits you set for yourself.
Make A Gift List
Before you pull out your wallet, write out your gift list. Include all the people you consider as essential recipients. Try to figure out how much you can afford to spend on each person, based on your overall holiday gifts budget.
It's often possible to save money by making gifts, decorations, and holiday cards yourself. Plus, homemade gifts can have a uniquely personal touch.
Look around your home to see what kinds of items you could use as supplies. Then look online for creative homemade holiday gift and decor ideas. Some homemade gifts you could consider making include picture frames, candles, coasters, baked goods, and jewelry.
Once you know what you have and what you want to make, visit craft stores or discount stores for inexpensive items to help you spruce up your creations.
Be sure to do your research about where to find the gifts on your list at the best prices.
If you're planning to shop on Amazon.com, consider checking out CamelCamelCamel.com, which lists the current and historical prices for items on Amazon, so you can make sure you're getting the best deal (or see a prediction for when the item's price may drop).
As you shop online, don't forget to consider shipping costs when looking at an item's price.
Whether you shop online or at a store, be sure to stay focused on your priorities. Don't get distracted by special holiday displays or tempting offers that could cause you to exceed your budget. Stick to your list.