SmartMoney Monday - Budgeting for the Holidays

SmartMoney Monday - Budgeting for the Holidays

This month, we'll cover budgeting for the holidays. The holidays will be here before you know it!  Viewers want to know how to plan ahead to make this season a memorable one.

Barbara, for example, asks, "Can I really save enough in three months? I would think starting earlier in the year would have made a lot more sense."

The earlier you start saving, the more impact your results will have.  Saving money is really about starting a good habit, even if that first step is a small one.

You can start by putting away 10% of your paycheck into another account, or set-up an automatic transfer at your bank to send over a small dollar amount each week.  Pay yourself first, and your habits will adjust accordingly.  Three months may not be enough time to save a significant amount of money, but you may be surprised at how effective such a simple habit change can be.

Sean, who asks, "How can I budget for the holidays if I don't have enough money left over from my check?  I still need to pay bills."

If you have credit, consider using credit cards or credit lines to supplement your income for purchases.  Balances can stack quickly, though, so you need to be realistic about any money you decide to borrow.  Again, starting the saving process earlier next year might be something to keep in mind.  If you do use credit, look for an option with low interest.  Some options even offer 0% for a limited time these days.  Also, be honest about your budget and make a plan based on what you can afford.  If you have $100 to spend for the holidays versus $1000, your plan will be different.  Get creative!  If you have a spouse, sit down and make a family plan with them.

I you have a SmartMoney question you'd like answered, you can go to our website to post your budgeting questions. We'll spend this entire month helping you get answers on how to plan for a memorable and special holiday season.