Early planning can ensure wintertime festivities don’t overwhelm your finances
The 2013 holiday season seems like it just ended, and tax season is already coming to a close. Now might not seem like the best time to start budgeting for wintertime vacations and gift giving, but when it comes to planning your 2014 festivities, there’s no time like the present.
If you start your plan now, rather than waiting for the weeks before the holidays begin, you have a better chance of staying on budget with your money and your time, giving you a more relaxed and enjoyable holiday with your family without breaking the bank. Listen to the advice from these experts and give yourself an early bonus to help you through your December celebrations.
“If you’re forced to shop on deadline, you may not have enough time to thoughtfully put together a spending budget and decide what to give everyone on your list,” says personal finance expert Odysseas Papadimitriou. “Things get hectic around the holidays, and if you’re in a hurry, convenience could easily overtake cost on your list of priorities. Not being rushed will also help you avoid impulse purchases.”
Saving early doesn’t just make it easier to control your spending on holiday gifts. Early planning and budgeting can also reduce travel expenses, and with millions of Americans taking to the skies — and even more to the roads — every holiday season, making those plans early can pay off big when the holidays roll around.
“If you’re opting for a high-traffic destination, a cruise or an international jaunt, book those tickets and hotel rooms early,” says Practical Nomad author Edward Hasbrouck. ”When it comes to international or popular options, you save money by doing it now.”
“By avoiding the busiest days of the year, you’ll avoid higher fares in general,” says financial reporter Mellody Hobson. “For example, if you return on the Monday after Thanksgiving, you can save 10 percent. You can save up to $70 if you travel on Thanksgiving [Day,] and 10 percent if you travel on Christmas [Day.”]
Now is a good time to start getting everyone else onboard with your early holiday budgeting. Discuss your plans with other relatives you might be traveling to see—or who might be traveling to see you. Make sure everyone in your household has the same expectations, and remember that the earlier these expectations get set, the happier everyone will be to stick to them.
“It’s a good time to sit down with kids and establish some guidelines,” says Gerri Detweiler, a credit consultant and personal finance author. “Depending on their ages, you can touch on how much they can spend, what they can expect and what they can do to help others. And maybe even give them extra chores to earn money for holiday spending.”
Set your holiday spending course now, and keep your ship on track through the summer. Springtime savings will snowball by winter, and you’ll have happier holidays thanks to your headstart.
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