budget

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are almost here, so it’s time to start thinking about ways to make it through the holidays without overspending.  Here are six things I do to maintain my budget during the most wonderful (and expensive) time of the year:

Make a Reasonable Budget
I’ve been making a Christmas shopping budget each year since I was ten.  It started with a list of family members I wanted to buy gifts for, but has now expanded to include all of the events that surround the holidays.  Presents for gift exchanges, hostess gifts, dinners with friends, holiday light tours and the list goes on.  Determine a realistic amount for your holiday spending and begin to make a budget.

Prioritize Your Money and Time
Once you have a number in mind, think about the people who you would like to buy gifts for and the events you would like to attend.  Sometimes saying “no” to an invitation or restraining yourself from spending on the perfect (but way out of your budget) gift can feel painful, but your sanity and finances will thank you for prioritizing what’s important to you.  After you have settled on whom you will buy for and the social events you will go to, set a dollar amount to spend for each gift and party.

Pay with Cash
While I don’t normally use the “envelope system,” I find it a really helpful tool during the holidays.  With your budget as a guide, take out the amount of cash you’ll need for gifts and use that predetermined amount instead of a credit card.  Using an envelope of cash labeled “mom,” for instance, makes me more focused on buying her gift and helps me avoid impulse buys. [click to continue…]

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Last week I put together a list of anticipated expenses for the weddings that I will be in or attending through July.  I’ll be a bridesmaid in two weddings (one is a destination wedding) and a guest at two others.  My conservative estimate of the costs associated with all of this matrimonial fun comes out to over $2,500.  I almost had a panic attack when adding up the cost of bridesmaid dresses, gifts, flights and hotels, but I want to be there to support my friends as they become married ladies.  Here are five ways I’m planning to survive wedding season without totally blowing my budget:

Tap Into a Gift Fund
I think everyone in their late 20’s goes through a phase when it seems like all of their friends are getting married or having babies.  Since a shower, bachelorette party or other event is bound to pop up, I save $75 a month in a “gifts account.”  Having this money is a big help during wedding season and it doesn’t impact my budget since I’ve already set it aside.

Take Advantage of Points Programs
Thank goodness for credit card rewards and frequent flyer miles.  Wedding season is a great time to look into how you can maximize points programs.  Thanks to my dad’s hotel points I won’t have to pay for accommodations for the destination wedding I’m in and I’m using my credit card rewards to pay for my flight to Florida for another wedding.

Buy Gifts Early and When They’re On Sale
I think it’s always a good idea to buy wedding gifts shortly after you have received a wedding invitation.  It’s easier to find a wedding registry item that is in your price range if you buy a gift early.  You will also have more time to see if registry items will go on sale if you don’t wait too long to buy a gift.

Cut Costs with Daily Deals Sites
I’m saving on pre-wedding manicures and pedicures with deals I bought from a daily deals site.  I found a great bachelorette party location for 40% off through another website.  There are also deals on everything from invitations to lingerie, that make throwing a shower or buying a gift more cost effective.

Find Ways to Make Extra Money
I’ve been earning extra money from surveys, focus groups and mystery shopping to help pay for wedding-related expenses.  I don’t make a ton of money from these things, but this extra income helps take the strain off of spending so much over a few months.

What are your tips for surviving wedding season?

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Las Vegas on a Budget

August 5, 2011

I’m back from spending a few days in Las Vegas and I’m proud to say that my budget is still intact.  Vegas is one of those places that can easily drain your bank account, but there are also plenty of free and low-cost ways to have fun in Sin City without breaking your budget.  Here’s […]

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Weight Loss Wednesday: The Return to Weight Watchers

June 9, 2010

I mentioned my past success using Weight Watchers in my first WLW post, along with my reluctance to shell out the cash to do the program again.  Monday morning, frustrated with the post-weekend number on the scale and craving  a pack of Fruities (only sold at Weight Watchers), I began the search for a meeting.  […]

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