Beware the budget

The past few years have been hard on the pocketbook – and psyche. Just when we think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, something happens to make us pull our belts a little tighter and dampen our spirits.

Many of us have had to curtail spending for quite some time, and with the holiday season (read, shopping season) coming up fast, we’re itching just to let go and spend like it’s 1999.

But be wary, don’t let budget fatigue cause you to spend beyond your means over the shopping season.

Many people are tired and frustrated because they haven’t been able to spend money in the ways that they have in the past. And regardless of the situation, people are eager to have a better holiday season than they have had the last couple of years.

Shopper, know thy budget
No matter how much you budget for holiday shopping, you need to be realistic.

The way to minimise huge January bills is to make a list and stick to it once you get to a store or online shopping site. If you needed to be on a strict budget last year, chances are you have to stick to a strict budget again this year.

Paper or Plastic?
Even with a budget and the discipline to follow it, the payment method you use can affect the actual price you pay in the long run. The hardest hit can come from buy-now-pay-later rationalising.

Many people will be using credit cards to buy gifts, and if you plan on paying the minimum amount on your card for a couple of months, the interest can add up and make your shopping season a whole lot more expensive than it needed to be.

When it comes to paying by card, debit cards may be a better option, as you can only spend what is actually there. However, remember that even if you do have the money in your account, spending all of it may not be the brightest of ideas.

Are we there yet?
The bottom line for many holiday shoppers is that it may not yet be time for a blowout celebration, so don’t let budget fatigue push common sense to the side.

After all, having dire January can really put a damper on a great holiday season.