What Shopping Online Does for Your Budget

If you're a parent, brace yourself: You may find yourself spending more than $400 per kid on holiday presents this year. Budgeting gets more important than ever when you're trying to show your loved ones how much you love them, just sensibly. There may even be one proverbial weird trick to keep yourself on track, and you can do it all from the comfort of your own screen.

Investment management company T. Rowe Price has released its 2017 "Parents, Kids, and Money" survey results, including findings on holiday spending and saving. It turns out shopping at physical stores really does put you at increased risk of serious impulse spending. In fact, 36 percent of parents who never stick to their gift budget shop exclusively at stores. If you mostly or totally get your presents online, you're far more likely to stay in line with your expectations.

Of course, the holidays are key periods for small businesses, many of which may rely more on foot traffic than the internet. If you're concerned about supporting local economies and independent business owners, remember that you have more options for online shopping than Amazon or Target, especially for handmade or unique gifts. Even beyond artisanal teas or jewelry, other independent companies often offer the same products you can find nationally, with comparable prices and shopping options. In the book world, for instance, check out vendors like Powell's, the Strand, or your local bookstore.

No matter what, budgeting is all about making a plan and sticking to it. If holiday costs are really looking outrageous this year, you can help yourself by organizing through your handiest device.