11 Innovative Ways to Track Your Holiday Spending
More than any other time of year, the holidays give you plenty of reasons to break out your wallet. With the help of these technological advances, there won’t be any shocks when your bank and credit card statements arrive in January.
1. Set Your Monthly Budget
Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps out there, so it’s no surprise that it’s a great resource for tracking holiday spending. Mint allows you to create budgets month-to-month, so you can allocate more funds to gift shopping during the holidays. Mint will also show you detailed spending reports in readable graphs, so it’s easy to understand exactly what you’ve spent and how it will affect your budget later in the month and year.
2. Stick to a Daily Limit
Level Money wants to help track your spending while doing away with budgets. The app automatically analyzes your linked bank accounts and tells you the maximum amount of money you should spend each day. Because Level lays the numbers out so plainly, it’s easy to see how much you can shell out during the holidays without overspending.
3. Make a Separate Gift Budget
Gift It will keep a list of the gifts you’ve purchased so far and how much you’ve spent while tracking what you still need to buy. While it’s not as sophisticated as some of the other trackers on this list, Gift It is an easy way to stay aware of your gifting expenses.
4. Cook Up a Food Budget
Our tendency to overindulge during the holidays can translate into higher grocery bills. Holiday food shopping often includes planning for parties and large dinners, so it’s no wonder that budgets can run wild. Smart Shopping List allows you to set a budget for grocery shopping and will adjust your list to stay within your range. As for making the most of your money, Smart Shopping List will also give you reminders when your perishable food is about to expire. No more wasted food!
5. Don’t Spend Too Much on Holiday Cheer
Holiday cocktails can really add up. When you get swept up in the festivities, it’s easy to forget how much money you’re handing the bartender. The DrinkControl app is a handy tool for monitoring not only your alcohol intake but also your cash output, allowing you to track both as well as view your consumption statistics by week, month, and year.
6. Keep Tabs on Your Seasonal Expenses
iSpending makes it easy to see exactly where your money is going. A great money tracking option for all seasons, iSpending is especially helpful during the holidays. It doesn’t prompt you to create a strict budget; you can simply add and label expenses. iSpending lays out your income versus your expenditures in helpful charts so you can keep an eye on your holiday spending.
7. Account for the Holidays
Luckily for everyone’s bank accounts, holiday spending is never the norm. CashTrails is an income- and expense-tracking app that allows you to separate irregular expenditures—like holiday and vacation expenses—for easy tracking and analysis. CashTrails also produces timeline bar graphs of your spending patterns.
8. Time Your Spending
If you can use your smartphone’s calendar, you can use Dollarbird to track your holiday expenses. The app allows you to add income and expenses in a calendar-like interface. Get paid every other Friday? Add it to the calendar. Dollarbird makes it easy to add one-time budget categories so you can track your holiday spending across as many categories as you need. And, since you still have to pay rent and bills this time of year, you can ask Dollarbird to send you reminders for your recurring expenses.
9. Count Down Your Shopping Days
For the number-obsessed gift-giver, Santa’s Bag will lay out not only how much shopping time is left (down to the second), but also how much of your total budget is allocated to each person on your list and how much money remains. Santa himself has never been so organized.
10. Budget for Your Holiday Travels
If you’re lucky enough to be skipping town this holiday season, make sure you don’t leave your budget behind. It might not be the most exciting part of your trip, but with Trail Wallet, budgeting can be painless. The app allows you to set a daily budget (converting to local currencies as necessary) and organize your spending by category. Leave the math to Trail Wallet and enjoy your vacation.
11. Force Yourself to Stay On-Budget
Financial tracking is always wise, but sometimes your budget leaves no room for error. If it is particularly rigid this year, consider using PayPal as your holiday wallet. Just add the amount you’re comfortable spending on holiday expenses to your PayPal account, and use PayPal instead of cash for everything on your holiday list. With the PayPal app, you can pay at many brick-and-mortar stores as well as online retailers.
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