Tips from a lending expert:

It’s the time of year where the holiday spirit arrives and we pause for a moment to give thanks for what we have.  Then as we turn on the TV or listen to the radio, we hear about the many great deals and ways for us to spend our money.  While the incentives are great for us to rush to our local malls, downtowns, and small businesses to buy the gifts that our loved ones want and possibly need, it’s also a great time to think about the future and how to plan holiday spending wisely.

 Shopping for gifts doesn’t have to lead to financial stress. Learn how to budget your holiday gift spending, and make this the year that you finally come in on (or under) budget!

  • List whom you want to shop for: Print out a copy of the Holiday Gift Spending Worksheet: and use it to list everyone whom you plan to shop for (friends, relatives, teachers, pets, etc.).
  • Don’t be afraid to go homemade: In many instances it really is the thought that counts and using websites like Etsy and Pinterest or shopping local vintage stores can lead to great gift ideas that people will love and won’t make your budget explode before your eyes.
  • Determine how much you can afford to spend: Review your finances to determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts. Set this figure as your overall holiday gift budget.
  • Divide your gift budget among the people on your gift list: Look over your gift list, and decide how much you would like to spend on each person. Then, total up the expected spending for all gifts, and make sure it does not exceed the gift budget that you established in step two. Rework your figures as necessary.
  • Track your spending throughout the season: As you purchase gifts, note their cost in the “Actual Spending” column of the worksheet. Then, calculate how much over or under budget you are with each one.
  • Tweak your budget to cover any instances of overspending: Don’t panic if you overspend on a gift; just scale back your spending on another gift to make up for it.
  • Pause before you purchase: Think twice before you buy anything you didn’t go into the store or website to buy.  If you can, put the item on hold for for 24 hrs to give yourself time to decide if that is the correct and practical purchase.
  • Hang on to a copy of your gift budget after the holidays are over: It will be helpful in planning next year’s budget.