With Christmas just around the corner, now is a great time to get your finances in check to make sure that everyone has a special gift waiting for them under the tree. More importantly, you want to make sure that you have a little something left in your bank account when Old Saint Nick heads back to North Pole. It’s way too easy to lose track of spending when your friends and family give you a laundry list of gift ideas, not to mention your own bills piling up over the month, so the best way to stay out of the Christmas red is to be prepared.
Ensuring that your Yuletide spirit doesn’t fade away when your account statement comes in, here are 5 ways to manage your finances and keep the good times rolling into the new year.
1. Make a List and Check It Twice
The top reason for why people wind up broke at the end of the holidays is because they overspend. A person rushes from store to store not knowing what to buy, and so they end up buying much more than they can afford, which is why making a list can be a huge game-changer. Writing down your gift ideas for each person is an efficient way to stay focused on what items to buy, all while creating a rough budget of final costs.
If something sticks out in the lineup as too expensive, then search for an alternative gift that works within your limits. Overall, what’s worth more than money is your time, and making a list will maximize your output without wasting too much of it.
2. Compare and Contrast
There is nothing worse than buying the perfect gift and finding out that another location sells the same thing at half the cost. With today’s endless options of both local and online stores, there is no reason why you should have to pay more for anything. That’s why comparing gifts from different places, or utilizing price match guarantees are a great way to keep some extra money in your stockings.
Tons of major retail companies, like Amazon, Best Buy, and Target offer price match options, so if you see that something is $99 at Best Buy, but it’s $59 at Macy’s, speak to an associate and they will offer it to you at the same price! It requires a bit of diligence to find the best deal, but your wallet will thank you in the end.
3. Apps Are Your Friend
Seeing as how there are so many options for stores, there are many mobile apps that are dedicated to finding you the best deals and discounts among them. The best apps for finding unbeatable offers are Slickdeals, Priceblink, and Favado. Slickdeals features posts by other users who share the best deals from a variety of stores, Priceblink is an add-on that shows you lower prices of the item you’re searching, and Favado compiles coupons from over 65,000 grocery and drugstores.
Shopping with a smartphone or tablet is a major trend for 2016, so it’s no surprise that so many people are taking advantage of these benefits. For more great apps, check out Redlaser, Coupons.com, and Pricegrabber.
4. Bank On-The-Go
Along with mobile apps to offer discounts, another helpful tool to maintain your finances is your bank’s very own mobile app. Many banks and credit unions offer a mobile banking app that allows you to check your purchases on different accounts, which makes keeping track of your spending a whole lot easier.
While you’re standing in line at the checkout, you can login and see what your balance is and make sure that you have enough funds to follow through. If for some reason your balance is low, you can instantly transfer money from your savings account into your checking account without having to deal with an extra trip to the ATM.
5. Be Aware
The major flaw that a lot of consumers have for when Christmas approaches is that they only think about buying gifts when there’s a couple of weeks left to go. All too often we save money throughout the year to prepare for a big loss, but instead, what we really should be doing is increasing our awareness throughout the year in order to save! Regardless of the outcome for this year, it’s always a good idea to listen to what your friends and family have to say; taking into consideration the places they shop, the things they like, or the items they say they would like to buy.
Christmas is all about the care and thoughtfulness from one to another, so even if you buy the unique coffee mug your mom was casually looking at, or the jersey your brother tried on and then put back, the fact that you remembered will be worth far more than anything you could buy on a whim, and this act of remembrance is something that you can be doing all year round.