(WYTV) — The holidays are a joyous time but can quickly become stressful if you don’t plan properly. Budgeting for the holiday season can prevent a financial headache in the long run.
Between food and family this holiday season, there’s a lot to be happy about. But it’s important to focus on your financial well-being as well. With inflation, your dollar is not stretching as far as it once did.
Chris Mediate with Mediate Financial says the No. 1 key is to dig in and really track your finances and where your money’s going.
“Set a holiday budget. I know it sounds really easy, but if we’re not following where our money’s flowing, what happens? We have a tendency to do what? We’re going to hit our credit cards,” Mediate says.
To avoid using your credit card if you can, Mediate suggests trying to use cash as much as possible.
Your holiday budget should not just account for gifts.
“If you’re entertaining at your house, if you have to travel — all of that should really be factored in to the entire budget so that we’re not overspending, especially during a time like this when we know inflation is high and our credit card rates are much higher than what they were a year ago,” Mediate says.
At the start of each year, we should decide how we plan to spend our holidays and begin preparing accordingly for it throughout the year.
“You hear all the time in the credit unions or the banks: Holiday spending clubs — where we’re able to set money aside of our paychecks that we’re going to call ‘holiday,'” Mediate says.
Mediate recommends buying as early as you can, as well as spreading out gift purchases over the course of a few months.
“The burden isn’t as high as doing it immediately. When we start to shop, say, on Black Friday, or we start to shop a week before Christmas or we’re doing Christmas Eve — we call that ‘panic,'” Mediate says.
Setting expectations with your children and family is key so they have an idea of what you’re planning to spend.