Don’t let money stand in the way of the most wonderful time of the year! Monitoring your spending and saving habits during the holidays can help alleviate financial stresses so you can enjoy this time with family and friends. As you start putting together your holiday shopping list, check out these 8 tips to avoid spending a fortune this season.
- Create a budget. Before hitting the stores, take a moment to plan a budget and determine how much you’re going to spend on each individual gift. Also, remember to add in extra costs like shipping, cards, home decorations, Christmas tree/lights, etc. Be sure to have a max budget for you to stick to. Check to see how much you’ve spent in past years to discuss whether you should keep the same spending habits or if you need to modify some things.
- Look for coupons and discounts. Many stores have sales going before and during the holiday season, both online and in-store. Check online for coupon and discounts prior to shopping in person so you can maximize your savings. Also, look through the mail because stores will start sending out coupons months before the holiday season begins.
- Make DIY gifts. Homemade gifts show thoughtfulness and effort. Sometimes buying supplies to make a gift can be cheaper than buying a store-bought gift. Whether it’s a homemade craft or a baked good, try tapping into your creative side this season to avoid going over your budget.
- Don’t procrastinate. Keep in mind that holiday shopping can be overwhelming and expensive. Stores get crowded and prices go through the roof. However, by getting an early start on your shopping you can take advantage of better deals and compare gift prices from different stores. This way you avoid running out of money when shopping at the last minute.
- Consider doing “Secret Santa” among friends and family. If you start to realize your gift list is getting a little long, bring up the idea of possibly doing “Secret Santa” with friends or family. This gift exchange idea ensures that everyone gets a gift and helps save money and time. Also, consider setting a price limit so that everyone can remain within their budget.
- Make a list….and check it twice. Make a list of each person you want to buy gifts for. Next, write down what gift you plan on getting them and how much it’ll cost. You may need to go over the list again and make some cuts if your budget can’t accommodate everyone. If you don’t want to leave anyone out, go through the gift list again and consider buying different items that are less expensive.
- Consider paying with cash. Sticking with cash while holiday shopping can help with tracking your spending. Credit cards are convenient, but you risk racking up debt that you may not be able to pay off as soon as you’d like. Cash allows you to physically see how much you’ve been spending and how much you have left. Simply swiping a credit card can become automatic and, therefore, dangerous.
- Start saving early. Start putting money aside as early as January for next year’s holiday shopping spree. Also, start making a note of what people want so that you can keep an eye out throughout the year for these items. This way you can buy gifts early and avoid fighting for the last one on the shelf during the holidays.
Remember that the holidays are meant to be spent with your loved ones and should not be all about gifs. This month I encourage you to focus more on the sentiment and meaning of gift-giving and less on the monetary value of things. Take some time, even while shopping, to embrace the holiday season and enjoy the experience!