Start Budgeting for the Holidays Now

It might seem like it isn’t as you battle the 104-degree subway platforms and pray that this summer is finally over, but the holidays are almost here. This means that you need to start allocating money for gifts, flights, feasts and other Christmas decorations.

The National Retail Federation estimates that the average American spends $ 796 on Thanksgiving and Christmas expenses, of which $ 476 goes to gifts for family and friends. If you need to travel to one or both of these holidays (not to mention New Years Eve), it will cost you even more.

This is a lot of money to come up with in a short amount of time. So, start planning now.

Create (and save) your budget

According to USA Today , 77 percent of people setting a holiday budget exceed it, although usually by no more than $ 100. However, keeping track of your spending is especially important during times of temptation.

“If you have to skip a few good meals after the holidays or cook a few more cheap meals at home due to cost overruns, then going over your budget is not a major problem,” notes USA Today. “If your overspending forces you not to pay utility bills or only make minimal credit card payments, you have a bigger problem.”

Decide how much you can actually afford and make a plan for how to save that amount before you shop.

You can set up a separate savings account with your bank, an online bank like Ally, or through an app like Qapital to split some of your funds over the holidays. You can also create a separate road fund (more on travel below).

And, of course, this will allow you to start looking for deals right now and spread some of the costs over a longer period of time. When shopping, use apps like Digit, Tip Yourself, or IFTTT with Qapital to save money for yourself.

Don’t forget about small gifts for couriers, garbage collectors, apartment supervisors, children’s teachers, etc.

Be careful when traveling

FareCompare, a flight comparison website, told USA Today that the best time to book flights for the fall is around August 27, “when high summer fares fall on both weekends and weekdays and lower fares will prevail until then. until there is a big jump in price. Thanksgiving Day “. Then start your search (using an incognito browser) or try an app like Hopper to track flight prices and consider flexibility if you can to get the best deals.

If you’re traveling by car, use an app like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gasoline in your area. Some of the credit cards we’ll talk about below also offer double cash back on gas purchases.

Get the maximum number of rewards

If you are going to travel a lot or buy expensive gifts, make sure you accumulate points as much as possible and get cashback. In fact, it would be worth taking a look at the new map.

Consider a travel pass such as the Capital One Venture card, Chase Sapphire Reserve card, or a specific airline card if you’re flying both Thanksgiving and Christmas (or just on an expensive flight). If you use these cards for purchases totaling between $ 3,000 and $ 4,000 over the next three months, you will not only be rewarded, but you will also be able to earn enough Reward Points to pay for a flight home or to your family at Christmas.

Other major refund cards like the Citi Double Cash card offer pretty good reward rates across the board. If you plan to shop a lot on Amazon, the Prime rewards credit card and Amazon store card offer up to five percent cashback on purchases. Chase, Citi, and Costco offer good gas rewards.

Sure, you have to be careful when you write off your card (which is why you made your budget), but by using strategy, you can reap the rewards of the holiday season.


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