Money may be tight for many people, but the holidays and holiday shopping remains on the agenda. Planning out your holiday shopping budget can reduce your overall stress, allow you to enjoy the holidays and prevent unpleasant surprises in your credit card bills in January. Make your budget before you start shopping, keep records of what you spend and stop when you're out of money to combine holiday joy with fiscal responsibility.
Start early, if at all possible. Look over your household budget and see how much you can afford to set aside for holiday shopping. Even if you can only set aside a small amount each week or paycheck, these small amounts can add up and cover much of your holiday shopping. Once you know what you can afford to spend, you're ready to move on to who you're shopping for and what you're buying.
Make a List
Make a list of everyone for whom you will be buying gifts. Consider suggesting that the extended family skip gifts this year, opt for a secret Santa exchange or another gift alternative to keep the costs lower. Giving fewer gifts will help your budget stretch a bit further.
Decide what you're buying or making for each person on your list. You might consider handmade gifts to reduce costs if you have the time and inclination. Estimate the cost of the items you will be buying and note the totals on your list. Make sure that the numbers fit within your total holiday budget.
Shop smart. Look for the best deals you can find. Shopping early can help you get good prices. You may also find that sales and online coupon codes can reduce your total spending somewhat.
Stop spending. Walk away from buying one more stocking stuffer or that perfect item. Stick to your list to avoid going over your holiday budget. Last-minute impulse buys can very often take well planned holiday spending well over budget.