With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s easy to lose track of your spending. Even the hardcore budgeters out there can find themselves lured into the retail marketing engine telling them to buy more, more, more.
That’s because our emotions tend to influence our spending on a whole new level during the last several months of the year. Instead of getting sucked in, make a plan for your money before December arrives. Because, really, who wants to be paying for Christmas in April?
Not you! Here are three simple steps to help you budget during this busy time of year.
1. Wait on the Stuff
Before we talk about budgets, let’s talk about stuff. We love stuff! What we don’t love, however, is the debt that comes along with buying new stuff you can’t afford.
Those Italian leather gloves? They’re a fantastic splurge if you have some disposable cash. But if you’re barreling through debt, it’s much more important to stay focused on your debt snowball than on buying hand candy.
Sounds obvious when you put it like that, doesn’t it? Delaying pleasure is a sign of maturity. Trust us, your diligence and sacrifice now will set you up for plenty of debt-free fun later on.
2. Make Your Plan
Instead of giving in to every seasonal whim, make a realistic plan for the months ahead. Do this before Christmas arrives—and all the little “must-haves” and “must-dos” along with them.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated contract. It’s just a simple agreement of “We are going to spend X amount of dollars for gifts, X amount for potluck-gathering food, and X amount for travelling.” Make sure this amount aligns with your budget for each month.
After you and your family decide on a plan for your holiday spending, go ahead and pinky-swear, spit-shake or whatever you must do to establish that you’re committed to seeing it through.
3. Stick With It
Don’t stress if the amount you’ve set aside for these celebrations isn’t as high as you want it to be. Visiting family and giving gifts are fun, but these should be blessings not burdens. So stay strong!
As the holidays near, you’ll see others overextending themselves on everything from pumpkin spice drinks to lavish holidays away. And you’ll be tempted to do the same. But ask yourself this: Is it worth it to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff now, pay for it later, and still be no closer to your goals this time next year?
The choice is yours. Make it a good one!
This article first appeared on Dave Ramsey’s website here.
What are the priorities in your budget during these last few months of 2015? Tell us by leaving a comment below!