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We all make mistakes. Some mistakes are more costly than others, and Christmas is a season where rational thought can go right out the window. If you put too much emphasis on food, candy, and gifts, you can miss out on the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is the time of year we spend the most amount of money, and the financial setbacks can have lasting consequences if you’re not careful. But it is possible to have a great holiday without blowing your budget.
8 Money Mistakes to Watch out for This Christmas
1. Not having a Christmas budget.
The first thing I do every year is set up a Christmas budget. You see, I have a spending problem. I love to buy gifts and decorations, and setting up a budget helps keep me on track.
Before you head out to start shopping, make a list of all of the people you’re going to buy for and set a spending limit.
2. Missing out on cash back.
There are a ton of ways to tap into extra savings if you know where to looks.
Ibotta lets you earn cash back when you buy groceries, decorations, holiday gifts, and more. I do a lot of Christmas shopping online and always check for cash back offers from Rakuten. They pay cash back up to 40% at online retailers.
3. Opening new store credit cards for extra discounts.
Almost every store has its own store-branded credit card. It’s tempting to sign up for new cards to save money on your purchase, but store cards are rarely a good idea.
You might save 15% or 30% on that one purchase, but your credit score will take a hit. Plus, the interest rates will cost you a fortune if you don’t pay it off right away.
4. Buying everything on your kids’ wish list.
My daughter’s Christmas list gets more expensive the older she gets. This year she’s 13, and her wish list includes a laptop, $150 flat iron, and an Amazon Echo Show. But even if your kids have less expensive items on their list, it’s easy to spend more than you should.
News flash: Your kid doesn’t need a mountain of toys. Set a reasonable budget before you go out shopping.
5. Giving gifts you can’t afford.
It’s tempting to buy the best gifts for everyone on your list. You might want to show your parents how much they mean to you or treat your friends to something extra for the holidays. But don’t go overboard on your spending. Besides, they’d probably prefer something thoughtful over a hefty price tag anyway.
6. Shopping without a list.
If you don’t have a list, you’re setting yourself up for disaster in more ways than one. First, making a list is the first step to setting up a Christmas budget to keep your spending on track. It can also make sure you don’t forget anyone on your Christmas list when you’re out shopping.
7. Not shopping around.
Holiday sales can be pretty great. But don’t think that the advertised price is the best you can get. Before you buy, check out the prices of similar items at other stores.
Amazon is a good resource to look up prices since they have a huge variety of products. Make sure you check other big box stores and local retailers, too.
8. Spending money from your emergency fund.
I can’t stress this point enough… never, ever spend money from your emergency fund on Christmas! If you don’t have a Christmas savings account, you need to start one right away.
Luckily, if you make a holiday budget, shop with a list, and look for extra discounts, you shouldn’t feel tempted to sacrifice your long-term goals to cover your Christmas spending.
Amy Beardsley is a wife, mom to a teenager and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to cut costs and increase income, without sacrificing comfort. She’s also a freelance writer who specializes in credit reporting, FinTech, and probate and estate planning topics. When Amy isn’t perfecting her budget spreadsheet, you can find her curled up with a good book or watching Marvel movies with her husband and daughter.