Military life can sometimes impact your budget. For instance, if you are being deployed, your salary could change or you could be faced with some unexpected expenses. Budgeting is important, and this includes your holiday shopping budget. If you’ve already been saving up all year in a holiday account, that’s great – you’re ahead of the game! If not, don’t worry. Read below for some helpful tips!
Create a Holiday Shopping Budget
Before you start your holiday shopping budget, take into account any money you will be spending on things other than gifts, such as travel, parties, decorations, donations, etc. Once you have that figured out and written down or recorded in some capacity, you can then make a list of who you want to buy gifts for, what those gifts will be and approximately how much those gifts will cost.
Set a strict budget and stick to it! The fact that you may not be able to buy the newest electronic gadgets or high-end clothes for your family or friends doesn’t mean you can’t provide them with fun and meaningful gifts they will love.
Use Your Resources
Don’t forget to use two military resources: the Commissary and Exchange. They both usually offer lower prices on many items – probably items on your gift list! You can even shop online.
Did you know that some stores offer a military discount? If you don’t see a sign, don’t be shy to ask.
Alternative Gifts: DIY!
Buying gifts for every single person on your list might be difficult on a military budget. Do-it-yourself (DIY) gifts are a great idea, and they can be quite simple. The following are a few ideas for DIY gifts:
- Assemble a personalized gift basket or bag and fill it with little things you know your loved ones like, such as jams, cookies, candies, soaps, magazines, etc.
- If you like to bake, fill a container (if you're crafty, you can decorate it) with homemade treats.
- Make a coupon envelope filled with handwritten cards that are redeemable for things like outdoor chores, babysitting, a date, a favor, etc.
- Design a collage of pictures of the two of you and frame it.
Start Planning for Next Year
It’s never too early to shop for deals! If you have certain gifts in mind, pay attention to sales before the holiday season starts. Explore online stores too. Veterans Day is a great time to look for deals, as many stores offer special discounts to Veterans and Service members. Another idea is to put gifts on layaway in advance. That way, you can spread your payments over a few months instead of maxing out your credit card in December.
To learn how to balance a budget and get out of debt, explore the QuickSeries® library of personal finance guides, including Be Money Smart: Investment Planning for Your Future.