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Budgeting for the vacations

Autumn is here, the time when our collective attention usually shifts to the holidays. October usually marks the start of a vacation marathon that doesn't end until New Year's Day, whether it's travel accommodations, parties, or gifts.

This year we have bigger problems on our plate.

With COVID-19 and the November election drawing almost everyone's attention, it's entirely possible that you haven't started budgeting for the holidays just yet. It is also possible that you will have a lot less cash on the budget this year. With this in mind, we've put together a few tips to help you get through the rest of the year in one go.

Talk about the holidays beforehand

If you've never discussed your gift plan, now is the perfect time to get started. Financial uncertainty is more common than ever and other people are likely to be in the same boat.

#RealMoneyTalk: Talk to the people you always exchange gifts with and ask how they feel about minimizing gifts. As with any financial talk, this can be awkward and embarrassing. According to a 2019 survey commissioned by the Intuit consumer group (makers of Mint and TurboTax) and conducted online by The Harris Poll, 51% of respondents choose not to talk about money with their friends or family .

Think of it this way – The person you are speaking to may be worried or have an unexpected home repair. Giving them the opportunity to spend less on the holidays could be the best gift you can give them.

You can also minimize gifts by doing a secret gift exchange with Santa instead of buying gifts for everyone. This still makes giving fun without the financial pressures of buying gifts for everyone. Or, you could encourage people to just buy gifts for the children in the family and skip the adults.

Create a budget

Check out your budget, bank statements, and credit card accounts to see how much more you need to spend over the vacation. Don't take money from your emergency fund or health savings account, but it's okay to use funds you've allocated for travel in 2020 as you have nowhere likely to go.

Then, look at last year's credit card and bank statements to see how much you typically spend on vacation. Most people will underestimate this number, so it is best to find out the actual numbers. Compare how much you have to spend on vacation and how much you spent last year to see if there is a discrepancy.

Finally, decide how much you would like to spend this year. You may want to divert more money into your emergency funds. Don't feel bad here either if you cut back this year.

Feel empowered to spend less

With all of the unknowns that this year has brought and that the next year has yet to reveal, this year is a great time to realign your holiday traditions. Know that by focusing more on thoughtful gift giving and less on extravagant, flashy gifts, you are making the best decision for yourself and your family.

Those thinking of giving away Christmas presents should hold back, especially if their companies are planning layoffs. Not to paint a gloomy picture, but to copy Bureau of Labor Statistics dataJanuary has the most layoffs. Definitely, if you lose your job, you will be glad you spent less money on gifts.

Don't worry about hurting people's feelings by buying fewer gifts or skipping gifts altogether. Nobody knows how long a recession will last, and it's better to have more cash in your emergency fund than a Christmas tree with a huge pile of gifts.

Find ways to make extra cash

If you have a few more holiday gifts to offer and you don't have the extra cash, it may be time to start making more cash.

Due to the pandemic, services like Instacart, Shipt, Postmates and Uber Eats are hiring new drivers. Some have new driver incentive programs that pay an additional bonus when you complete a certain number of deliveries.

Tell people you know are trying to make extra money for the holidays because they may know of other options. If you're practical, post your skills on a neighborhood Facebook group or on NextDoor.

Many traditional retail and service companies hire additional staff during the holidays and have a quick entry process. They are likely to be paid a little above the minimum wage.

Open a separate bank account

If you are saving for a short term goal, it is best to keep the money in a separate account. This makes it easier to keep track of how much you have.

One way to create a separate account and earn extra cash at the same time is to find a bank with a sign-up bonus. Many banks offer bonuses to new customers when they open an account and transfer a certain amount of money or make a direct deposit.

These bonuses range from $ 100 to $ 400. If you open one of these accounts now, you should have the bonus in time for Christmas or shortly afterwards.

Look for coupons

When buying gifts, try to make the most of all possible ways to save money. You can find the best deal by installing browser extensions.

honey is a browser extension that informs you about possible voucher codes. Just click on the browser extension while checking out and Honey will apply all relevant codes. When you find an item you want to buy as a gift, add it to your Honey Droplist to be notified when it goes on sale.

The Wikibuy extension also offers coupon codes and can show you if the Amazon item you are viewing is available for a cheaper price on another website.

Many online retailers offer discounts for joining their email list. This is another easy way to save on gifts. If you try to sign in and find that you've already used the email code, create a new email address just for that purpose.

Shop smart

Doing your research before purchasing an item will ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck. Sites like wire cutter, CNET and consumer reports Review products and share their top tips.

Check out these pages before you buy anything. Many come with budget-friendly recommendations that can save you money without sacrificing quality.

Reddit is also full of topics discussing the best products across different categories, whether it's a kitchen knife or a beauty mask. If you can't find a thread on what you're looking for, post on the most relevant forum to see what people have to say. You can also specify what you'd like to spend so that users only share items that match your budget.

Zina Kumok (107 posts)

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she repaid $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.

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