Receipt, pen, and calculator sitting on a table, image used for Nicholas Fainlight blog about how to make your budget work during the holidays

No matter what time of year it is, it can be incredibly difficult to craft a budget and stick to it. However, the holidays may be the most challenging time of the year when it comes to making your budget work. There are plenty of sales and discounts at all your favorite stores and you want to get the perfect gifts for your friends and family. You’re probably heading to plenty of celebrations as well and want to take food and a gift for the host. While these feelings are understandable, you need to make sure you still stick to your budget and avoid placing everything on a card or ruining your financial goals, especially if you’re already on a tight budget. There’s no reason to miss out on the holidays, but be smart about your holiday spending.

Make a list ahead of time

The best way to avoid overspending during the holidays is to carefully plan ahead of time for what your budget will be. You can approach this step a few ways, such as setting a limit on what you’ll spend and then allotting to each expense from that main budget. Write down all the parties you’ll attend, what you’ll take, any gifts you’ll give, and other expenses like travel, cards, or decorations. It’s important to be realistic and keep track of everything.

Start saving early

You know the holidays occur every year and most people have traditions and a general idea of what they’ll be doing each year. If you always cook Thanksgiving dinner or host a New Year’s Party, account for this when you plan your budget. Start saving as soon as possible. If you set a few dollars aside when you can, you’ll have saved up your holiday budget in no time. You might even want to consider opening a separate savings account to save specifically for holiday expenses.

See if you can cut back

If you realize you don’t have enough funds to cover your holiday expenses, see if there’s another area you can cut back in. If you have a budget for going out to eat or other entertainment, consider slashing that for a month or two, especially considering you’ll be attending lots of events throughout the holidays.

Search for deals

By planning ahead, you’ll be able to start searching for gifts far ahead of time. Keep an eye out for deals and sales on items you’re planning on getting. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great times to get your gift shopping done. Also look for deals on food to make any holiday dishes you’re planning.

Find extra income

If you didn’t allot for your holiday budget or are finding you’re short on cash, consider finding a way to earn some extra income. If you work a few extra days a month throughout the year or a lot for a short time around the holidays, you should be able to easily get your holiday budget together and keep your regular finances intact.