Black Friday can be both fun and overwhelming. There are so many people and so many good deals, and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement. One of the most important things to keep in mind while Black Friday shopping is your budget.
So how do you make a holiday budget? Start by looking at your monthly budget. If you don’t have a monthly budget, you should make one so that you can see where all of your money goes. Following a budget allows you to successfully save for retirement, repay debt, and spend money without feeling guilty or worrying about overspending. Budgets allow you to allocate money to different spending categories so that you know how much money you can safely spend on say, clothing, or food. To start making a budget, check out our spreadsheet templates at http://www.unl.edu/smmc/besttools.shtml or try mint.com. You can also download a free budgeting app or check out your bank or credit card’s website to see if they have a budgeting tool. And of course, UNL students and alumni can schedule an appointment with us online at https://unlsmmc.youcanbook.me/ We would love to help you make a budget!
Once you have your regular monthly budget set up, see if there are any categories in which you could reduce spending for a month. Maybe clothing, food, or household supplies could be reduced to free up some extra money for holiday expenses. Keep in mind you may be doing extra baking, traveling, or even clothes shopping for holiday parties. Ideally, it is best to put a little away each month in preparation for holiday spending. You want to avoid a situation where you charge everything on your credit card and you end up with a January bill that you can’t pay. The best way to do this is to make a holiday budget.
To start, make a list of all of the people you will need gifts for. Make to sure to include any cookie plates you may be making for neighbors, small gifts for the mailperson, and white elephant gifts for work. After each person, write down gift ideas and an estimate of what those ideas might cost. Then add everything up, and if you can’t afford that total amount, try to find cheaper gifts or reduce the number of people you are giving gifts to. Or, if you don’t have any ideas yet, write down the maximum amount you could spend next to each person, then look for gift ideas in that price range. For UNL students, we will be at the University Health Center’s Stress Free Zone events on East Campus Union on Dec. 2 from 11 am- 2 pm and here at the City Union Crib on Dec. 3 from 11 am- 2 pm. We will handouts on homemade gift ideas, food gift ideas, and cheap and experience gifts, in addition to holiday budget templates.
If you have trouble avoiding impulse buys, try only bringing cash with you on Black Friday. Plan out exactly what you are going to buy and how much each item costs, and bring that much plus a little extra for if you see something small you know someone would like. By not bringing along credit and debit cards, you won’t be able to overspend. If you stick to your list of items, you will not allow yourself to be persuaded to buy more things you don’t need. Tomorrow’s blog will talk about how to make a game plan for Black Friday shopping.