Budgeting for a less stressful holiday season


Here are a few tricks to help you make sure you have enough dough to cover all your holiday expenses, from gifts and decor to travel—and to start the new year off right.

1. Begin with a plan

You’ll need a list (or better yet, a spreadsheet!) of all expected expenses. Include hosting parties, dining out and holiday travel. Jot down everybody you’d like to get a gift for, from the babysitter to your mother-in-law, and how much you think you’ll spend.

Tally it all up—and then adjust where necessary. For example, you may need to make some gifts smaller or work in a few homemade options—like baking instead of buying for your friends, family and neighbours—to fit your budget. If you have a similar gifting list from last year, that’s a great place to start.

2. Track your spending

Mobile banking apps are a smart way to track your overall spending and categorize your purchases. If you use accounts and cards from different providers, a budgeting app can display all of them in one spot, for an accurate picture of where you’re spending your money.

Another approach is to keep that spreadsheet you created up to date with a running total, entering receipt amounts as you shop, so that you always know exactly how much you have to work with. You may be able to, say, save a few dollars on a cookbook for your BFF, and then beef up the amount you can spend on a sweater for your spouse, for example.

3. Take advantage of sales

Once you’ve crunched the numbers, you can strategize how to spend your holiday budget. A whopping 86% of shoppers say sales, discounts and promotions are more important this year than last year, according to the Dentsu survey. And shoppers will be hunting for online sales more than ever—and starting their spending earlier in the season, predicts Adobe Analytics.

If you’re on the lookout for holiday discounts, check out digital flyers or sign up for retailers’ newsletters and text messages to hear about special offers and digital coupons.

4. Be smart about travelling

The holiday season is one of the busiest times for travel. Couple that with the very real post-pandemic wanderlust that everyone seems to be experiencing, and you could end up spending a lot more for your holiday getaway (or trip to your in-laws’) this year.

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