It’s never too soon to start planning for the holidays, according to financial planning experts who say budgeting and careful shopping lessen the likelihood of overspending.
Want to avoid the all-too common holiday spending hangover? Financial planning experts advise us to begin budgeting and shopping well before retailers start decking the halls.
“With just a little planning, consumers can substantially reduce their holiday spending debt load without sacrificing holiday quality,” Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of American, said in a statement.
Mindful spending may not seem as fun as a whirlwind of holiday shopping, but thriftiness is a key factor in building wealth. Millionaires credit their financial success primarily to frugality, along with hard work, education and smart investing, according to a Millionaire Corner study on the attitudes and behaviors of affluent investors completed in the first quarter of 2012.
The CFA and other consumer advocates recommend the following steps to avoid overspending this holiday season:
· Make a budget: First, decide how much you can afford to spend on the holidays this year. Include expenses such as holiday foods, party clothes, decorations and postage. Research shows that consumers who establish budgets are much less likely to overspend.
· Make a list: Write down everyone you would like to give a gift. Include your gift idea and its price. Total the amount and make necessary adjustments if the costs exceed your budget.
· Start shopping early: Some of the greatest bargains are available well before the holiday season.
· Shop carefully: Comparison shop. According to the CFA, checking prices offered by different retailers can save more than 10 percent on most items. Take advantage of sales, coupons and free-shipping offers throughout the year.
· Avoid credit cards: Studies show that consumers who pay in cash are much less likely to overspend.
According to insights from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, “Having a set budget and knowing the ins and outs of holiday shopping can be your best defense from a holiday financial hangover.”