Plan your holiday budget early


The holiday season will be here before you know it, and it is never too early to start budgeting for this exciting time of year. While many may seek financial absolution in January, the first of the year will be a lot brighter if you avoid seasonal over-spending in the first place.

Here are some simple strategies for setting up a holiday budget and sticking to it.

Get Started Early

Purchasing gifts, decking the halls, throwing holiday parties and getting out of town will come as no surprise, and neither should the associated expenses. You can end 2015 in the black by planning ahead.

Just as you may tuck away savings for a rainy day or for a big purchase down the line, you can also create a holiday fund. Cut back on unnecessary expenditures here and there, diverting that portion of your income to a special savings account marked “Holiday Spending.”

Smart Spreadsheets

Before hitting the stores, map out your spending with an organized spreadsheet. It is easier to keep track of your purchases when you have an interactive visual to assist you.

These days, it is easier than ever to mathematically calculate your expenditures as certain new models of scientific calculators for the first time offer spreadsheet functionality. For example, Casio’s new CLASSWIZ fx-991EX scientific calculator allows users to create spreadsheets of up to five columns and 45 rows for a maximum of 170 data items on its high-resolution LCD screen. With its icon-based display and 274 functions, this tool can prove valuable when planning your pre-holiday season savings. More information can be found at

Shopping Strategies

Store designers have admitted that floor displays are designed to keep you browsing and to encourage impulse purchases. You can circumvent these obstacles by being aware of them. For example, the area around checkout is full of grab-and-go smaller items, the purchase of which can easily be justified on a whim.

Making a list and knowing what you plan to purchase before entering a store can help you get in and out without adding more to your cart than you planned.

With smart planning and new tech tools, you can end this year with your coffers full.