The holidays are just around the corner, and now that you’re an established adult in your own first apartment, it’s time to start responsibly planning your budget! The holiday season can be stressful in terms of budgeting, but it doesn’t have to be! Take time to plan for the holidays by following these tips and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy.
1. Prepare holiday travel plans in advance
If travel is on your calendar this winter to visit friends or family, get your plans nailed down well in advance. This will give you flexibility to determine the best way to get to your destination (trains, planes, buses, rides with friends?) and give you time to shop around to find deals on tickets before the mad rush for the holidays hits. Remember, travel prices do surge around the holidays, but planning in advance can save you some money.
2. Make a plan for gifts
With your newly gained independence comes some new responsibilities, as well! While your friends and family may not expect gifts, try to plan ahead on any gifts you want to buy for them for the holidays. Making your list of people (think: parents or siblings, besties, significant other) you want to gift first. Then, identify a few options or ideas and the cost associated! This will help you keep a close eye on your budget while not feeling like you’re scrambling when the holidays do arrive.
3. Buy early, if possible
On the topic of gifts, don’t feel the need to make all of your purchases in the last couple of weeks of the year! Buying early can spread your expenses across a several weeks or couple of months. If you’ve made a solid plan (#2!), you can take advantage of sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
4. Cut small expenses now
With more of an understanding of your budget (from travel and gifting expenses), you have a better idea of how much money you need to stash to comfortably conquer the holidays while still paying your apartment bills. If your budget appears tight, consider cutting out smaller expenses and moving additional money into your savings accounts now. This will help pad your accounts before holiday expenses come about!
5. Get creative on holiday decor
And finally, as you decorate your apartment for the holidays (one of the most fun parts of having your own place!!), get creative on your decorations. DIY what you can, check out thrift and discount stores, and buy smart. Spend money on decor you really like and will last to next year.
Of course, the holidays don’t have to mean a blow to your bank account. Talk to your friends and family to determine how you want to handle the holidays. My family, for instance, does a “Secret Santa” every year so we each only buy gifts for one other person. Or, is there an opportunity to schedule some family time instead of purchasing gifts? No matter what you choose for the holidays, keep your budget in mind to ensure a stress-free experience.