While the festive season always starts out with excitement, as day itself draws near you may find you feel a sense of alarm as you look at rapidly dwindling bank account balances and how much you've invariably spent over the course of a few weeks. And as it's the week before Christmas, this tends to be the period in which most of us panic buy. A recent study says that a third of people who run up Christmas debt take up to seven months to clear it - that's almost a full year! So, how do you make it through the holiday season without blowing all of your money? Below are a list of simple strategies for being smart with your finances this holiday season.
Turn off notifications for deals
Apps like Amazon have automatic notifications for any 'unbeatable' deals they might have on between now and the January sales, which only encourage and tempt us to aimlessly shop or buy something just because. Silence notifications on your shopping apps, and be strategic about the things you want to buy and stick to finding deals for those things — don't buy stuff just because it's heavily discounted. You won't use it and therefore, it's money wasted.
Make a list (and stick to it)
It may sound ridiculous and simple, making a list of what you need might make all the difference. Before you start shopping, make a point of writing down all of the things that you need to buy this holiday season. Once you've finalised your list, seek out the best deals. But make sure in the midst of this deal-hunting you only buy the things on your list and if you think you'll deviate from it - bring a plus one to help you get through the list and avoid veering off your gift-purchasing course.
Set a spend limit on gifts
This is ideal for those who are actively trying to save funds and who know they always go over-the-top when it comes to gifts for friends and family at the last minute. One way to avoid over-spending is to have a frank conversation with friends or family about gift expectations. Maybe you'll all agree on a specific amount, or forego store-bought gifts altogether — who says you can't get creative and DIY at least some of your gifts?
Window shopping isn't a great idea
Aimlessly browsing only increases the temptation to purchase what you might not otherwise. If you have your heart set on something, going online to price check is a good idea but otherwise, try to avoid browsing online altogether.
Tally up any perks from the year and use them now
Perks can come in the form of points, vouchers, or leftover gift card balances you've accumulated from the year - now is the best time to use them. Likewise any returns or exchanges that you have been putting off, make sure you organise these now and use what you can towards your own must-get lists. Every little helps at Christmas time.