Personal Finance

The One Tool That Will Save Your Holiday Budget

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When Carrie Rocha and her husband were digging out of $60,000 in debt, one of the things they did was start a savings plan and put it on autopilot, so they would be prepared for expenses that arose. One of the things they started saving for was the holidays. “We decided to stop pretending as if the holidays didn’t come around each year,” she said.

If the holidays seem to always catch you — and your budget — by surprise, it’s time to stop pretending and start planning.

And we’ve got just the thing to help you do that. Credit.com’s Free Holiday Spending Planner allows you to think about what you expect to spend on gifts, decorations, travel and more; and then track what you do actually shell out for those items. It’s a simple way to insert a bit of financial sanity into an often hectic season. It can also help you identify those little budget busters that are easy to forget, such as tips, or postage and printing for holiday cards.

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Holiday Planner Spreadsheet

Holiday Planner PDF

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Will you be opening your wallet a little more often this year? Retailers certainly hope so. They are expecting a decent uptick in sales in 2012. Predicting $586.1 billion in holiday retail sales, the National Retail Federation says it’s “most optimistic forecast…since the recession,” according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. Online sales are expected to grow 12 percent over last holiday season to as much as $96 billion this year, according to Shop.org.

There’s nothing wrong with splurging a bit this time of the year, as long as it doesn’t mean adding to your debt levels or taking away money from other important financial goals.

And that’s the whole point of a spending plan, right? To allow you to plan your purchases so your money can go toward what’s most important to you. So plan now for the a debt-free holiday season using your free holiday spending planner.

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Image: Jim, via Wikimedia Commons

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