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Don’t Break the Bank!

Don’t Break the Bank!

November 24, 2020

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I’m feeling an unusually high sense of anxiety toward holiday shopping this year. I don’t know if it’s the warnings about longer-than-average shipping times, or maybe just general 2020 anxiety, but whatever the case, there is at least one way I can eliminate some stress—budgeting! There are tons of tools out there to help you budget for holiday shopping and keep track of your spending. Here are a few:

Mobile Apps

  • Mint – This year-round budget app allows you to create specific gifting budgets, so you can better track where the money is going. You can hook up your various accounts to monitor and organize expenses as well. Mint is free on both Android and iOS!
  • Wally – Another year-round budgeting app that allows users to link accounts to track and organize payments, create unique budget lines, and track spending by the day or category. Wally is free on Android and iOS, but there is a paid premium version as well.
  • Santa’s Bag (iOS) – With this free iOS app, users can track gift lists and expenses. You can create a gift budget and unique gift list for each person you shop for. You can track which gifts still need to be purchased or wrapped as well!
  • Christmas Gift List (Android) – Android users can use this free app to create individual gift lists for each person on their shopping list and set them as “purchased” or “wrapped.” You can also keep track of spending overall or for each shopping list.
  • GiftPlanner (iOS) – This app is a year-round gift planning app that allows you to create shopping lists and ideas for all kinds of events. There is even a countdown for each event! You can monitor your budget and current spending on each list. This app is free for iOS users.

Websites and More

  • Mint (again!) – Mint also has a robust website to help you maintain your budget when you’re home! It’s free to use and offers a few more actions than the app.
  • NerdWallet – A website (and also an app) that provides year-round budget monitoring tools. You can set and monitor annual, monthly, and categorized budgets. You can also connect your accounts to organize purchases.
  • Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets – Yes, the classic and cloud spreadsheet options! Both offer several budget templates so you can track your spending year-round in a variety of ways. You can also create a unique holiday shopping/expense workbook to track individual purchase lists and ideas, budgeting, wrapping, and more. I, your humble blogger, use a Google Sheets workbook each year with individual sheets for each person I shop for. I track purchases (and ideas), their costs, and total vs. planned spending.
  • Envelopes and Pen/Paper Tracking – Some people prefer the classic method, and that’s just fine! You can always grab a notebook to track shopping expenses just as you could in a spreadsheet. The only downside is having to do your own math! There are those who take it a step further and maintain a budget by creating an envelope system with just enough money for each person in each envelope.

Hopefully these ideas will help you feel a little better about your shopping for the 2020 holiday season. If you want to learn more about budgeting (as a year-round practice), consider the free, online finance and budgeting courses from Universal Class, Lynda.com, or Gale Courses. You can also find a plethora of eBooks about this on OverDrive! If physical books are more your style, you can put all kinds of books on hold from the Library’s collection and pick them up at a branch near you.

Paige L.
Consumer Technology Specialist

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