You know summer is in the rearview mirror when Pumpkin Spice can be found everywhere from scented candles to flavored coffees. It can only mean the financial stress of the holiday shopping season is just weeks away. Are you prepared?
If you’re someone who typically suffers from a holiday debt hangover, you’ll want to consider the following tips to increase your Black Friday shopping budget.
Recognize what you’re spending every day.
Checking your everyday spending is key to identify areas where you can save. If you don’t already track your spending, there are a variety of methods to choose from: the old school method of pencil and paper, envelope system (pay cash in person), digital spreadsheets, and budgeting apps. Any one of these will give you an accurate picture of where your money is currently going.
Withhold less income tax.
If you get a big income tax refund each year, you’re letting Uncle Sam hold on to more of your paycheck interest-free. By filing a new W-4 with your employer, your company will withhold less money each pay period and let you enjoy more of your income sooner. Use this tax withholding estimator to calculate how a change to your deductions will impact your tax situation – you don’t want to be in a position where you are under-withholding and end up owing taxes at the end of the year.
Stash your savings.
Figure out how much in total you want to spend for each person on your holiday gift list, then divide that number by the number of weeks left to save. Deposit that amount weekly into a savings account dedicated to holiday spending. Many credit unions offer holiday accounts or sub-accounts to your regular savings account where you can stash your holiday cash.
Another way to boost your budget is to increase your automatic payroll deductions at work and have them sent directly to the savings account or set up an automatic transfer of funds each week from your checking to your savings in your online banking account.
Cash in on the crafting craze.
Opportunities abound with an online global audience when it comes to all things artsy and crafty. If you have a panache for painting, get creative and sign up for an Etsy store, Amazon Handmade site, or other specialty sites.
Snag a gig.
The gig economy continues to transform the U.S. job market. Take advantage of its flexibility by renting out a room on vrbo.com or Airbnb.com. Become a driver for Uber. Housesit, pet sit or babysit to earn extra money. You can even become a freelancer on Upwork.
Work a seasonal job.
It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays means that retailers, like clothing boutiques, cafes and restaurants, will be staffing up to hire customer service reps, servers, baristas, delivery people, cashiers, and other customer-facing positions to handle the onslaught of business that comes around every year.
Get paid for your opinion.
Paid surveys are all the rage these days. In fact, there are dozens of sites offering paid online surveys for money. There are lots of options out there, so be sure you do your homework before signing up. Beware of scam sites that charge a fee to join their network, promise you that you’ll make thousands of dollars each month, or request your credit card or social security numbers.
Opt-in to dining in.
Here’s where you can really gain some traction in growing your savings. Commit to brown-bagging it for lunch to save about $5 a day, and make your dinners and coffees at home to see your savings light up.
Know how much you’re spending on subscriptions.
Go through your list of subscriptions–if you don’t have a list, take the time to make one–to see exactly what you’re paying for, whether it be subscriptions to software or online services. Ask yourself which ones you can eliminate, then cancel them on the spot. This can save you hundreds of dollars each year.