The “back to school” signs and commercials are in full swing, and although it probably makes you sigh in displeasure, it’s a good reminder that with the end of summer quickly comes the beginning of the holiday season. If you’ve been diligent about budgeting and keeping your New Year’s resolutions you set at the beginning of the year, then you probably already have the holidays in mind and are well on your way to a manageable and debt-free holiday season. But for many of us, we’ve gotten sidetracked throughout the year and let our budgeting and spending habits get a little bit out of hand.
To get back on track, do these 5 tips to help you stick to your goals and keep your bank account and credit score in tip-top shape, especially as the holidays are fast approaching.
Adapt your goals
The thing about setting all of your goals at the beginning of the year is that it’s impossible to know what will happen throughout the year. This is why it’s a good idea to set a new goal each month to work on. Take a look at the goals you set at the beginning of the year, and pick one, only one, to start working on for one month only. At the end of the month, evaluate how well you did and adapt it for the next month, or start a new one if you did well with that goal.
Take out cash
A great way to keep your spending in check so you don’t run out of discretionary income before the holidays is to use cash. Take out how ever much you’ll need for your daily spending, like groceries, gas, etc. and leave your cards at home. This way you can’t use your cards as backup if you end up going slightly over your budget.
Create your wishlist
Start thinking about your Christmas wish list already. This will keep you motivated to save and work hard to make sure you can afford it. Do the math to figure out how much you’d spend on your most desired big purchase if you were to put in on a credit card. The cost will likely be outlandish, and this will discourage you from thinking you can just charge it.
Start a dedicated savings account
Many banks and financial institutions offer a dedicated savings program at no cost to you. With these programs, you can designate a certain amount to automatically be transferred to a savings account each week, bi-monthly, or monthly. There is often a set period of time during which you cannot touch the funds, or you must pay a fee to do so. Also, they are usually only accessible by physically visiting the bank, making it very inconvenient to use these funds unnecessarily.
Similar to spring cleaning, do an end-of-summer purge of all items you don’t use or can live without. Sell these at a yard sale, craigslist, or other classifieds site or service and put the money toward your holiday fund. This can help you make up any slack you may have experienced as you forgot about your New Year’s resolutions, and get your budget on track.
Follow these tips to ensure that your spending habits are controlled, your budget is managed, your holidays don’t break the bank or ruin your credit, and you successfully master your New Year’s financial resolutions.