Budgeting for the Holidays

Planning ahead can help alleviate some of the stress that accompanies this very exciting, but busy, time of year. When you have enough money saved, giving gifts is a much more enjoyable experience all around. You can concentrate on getting the right gift for that family member or friend, instead of feeling overwhelmed by having to spend money you don’t have. Try the following tips this holiday season:

  • Make a list, and check it twice. Experts agree that it helps to write down a list of all the people for whom you plan to shop, before you hit the stores or turn on the computer. Next to each name, write what you want to buy for that person and how much you want to spend. You can get a clear idea of the numbers involved and know in advance how many gifts you need to purchase.
  • Shop for bargains once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, and for whom you are buying. Remember, if you are purchasing a number of items from the same online retailer, buying all the items together can cut down on shipping costs.
  • Review your receipts and bills from last year. This will give you an idea of the amount you actually spent and how long it took to pay for it all.
  • Curb impulse shopping and spending. Buy only what is on your list. If you’ve forgotten someone, add them to your holiday budget and, if necessary, adjust the amounts you spend on others so you keep the same total.
  • Make a plan for those other expenses. Give some thought to how much you’ll be spending during the holiday season on things other than gifts. Be sure to include in your budget the following: postage for cards and presents that need to be shipped; wrapping paper, bows, greeting cards; decorations; food and drink for holiday meals (don’t forget to add more, if you will be feeding guests); and travel expenses.

Behavioral Health Systems is the parent company of Safety First. BHS offers Mental Health and Substance Abuse benefits to employers along with Employee Assistance Programs.