12 Tips To Save Money During the Holiday Season
We all know that the holiday season is about fellowship and family, but realistically it’s the most expensive time of the year. With gifts, parties, and food it’s easy to spend well over what you can actually afford. This year lets focus on having a successful holiday season and save money where you can.
Just because you want to save money over the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t buy gifts or have fun. All it means is that you will have a budget and a limit to help guide you during this expensive time. By trimming a little here and there, you can end this holiday season by successfully giving gifts to everyone and still saving money.
Here are 12 tips to save money during the holiday season.
1. Set a Holiday Spending Budget
The best way to save money and avoid overspending is to make a holiday spending budget. A holiday spending budget differs from a regular budget because it does not include monthly expenses such as bills and other fees. A holiday budget is only for money you plan to spend on gifts, food, and entertaining guests.
This means that once your monthly expenses are accounted for you can decide how much additional money you can afford to spend. If you’re in a tight crunch financially it’s okay to make a limit per person on how much you can afford to spend for them.
If the holidays are at your house this year there’s no shame in doing it potluck style. Simply ask everyone to bring a dish or assign people food items. This not only saves you money, it also saves time.
Finally, leave a little wiggle room in your budget. If you think you can only afford to spend $500 for the holiday season, make it $550 just in case you think of a last minute gift for someone you may have forgotten about.
For a general budget on how to save money during any time of the year, check out this article on how to create a budget to kickstart your savings!
2. List Of Names
Avoid overspending and multiple shopping trips by making a list of everyone you plan to buy presents for. Start with family members then add friends and co-workers. Since you have a budget already in place, decide on a spending limit for each person and write that limit next to their name.
Remember, it’s okay to give out personalized cards to people you want to remember but don’t necessarily want to buy a gift for. I suggest buying assorted holiday cards in bulk and giving those out. They will probably last you two holiday seasons.
3. Avoid the Splurge
Now that you have a budget and a list of all the people you are purchasing a gift for, it’s time to figure out what you plan to buy them. Similiar to a grocery list, make a list of each gift you want to purchase. This may sound odd but it’s very important in helping you stick to your budget and avoid the possibility of overspending.
This can also be the tough part because we don’t always know what to get someone. If you absolutely can’t think of a gift and need to wander the mall, stick to the spending limit you set for each person.
4. Don’t Get Distracted On You
Yes, the sales will be appealing and you’ll most likely see something you’ve always wanted, but remember the holidays are about fellowship and family. Not you.
I know this sounds harsh, but the reason you’re budgeting yourself is for the purpose of saving money. All of that goes out the window if you spend money on yourself rather than on the people you mentioned on your list.
It’s best to use tunnel vision when gift shopping so that you focus only on what you need to buy and don’t waste any time window shopping for yourself. Remember, the goal is to save money so that you can purchase gifts for others, not for yourself.
5. Don’t Overdo It
Decide when enough is enough and leave it at that. It can be so easy to give someone every single gift you think they will love. But, after the holidays are over and you are in debt, you may regret over-doing it.
There is a reason you set these financial boundaries for yourself. There’s no shame in wanting to stay out of debt over the holidays. The only way you can succeed at doing this during the expensive holiday season is to stick to your budget and don’t overdo it.
6. Rewear an ‘Old’ Outfit
Think more like Kate Middleton and less like Kim Kardashian in the sense that it’s okay to wear the same outfit twice. There’s no need to buy a new dress and shoes if you already have a perfect pair in your closet. Just because you wore it last year to your co-worker’s wedding doesn’t mean you can’t wear it on New Years.
If Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, can wear a dress multiple times to public events where her picture will be plastered all over the internet, you can wear your dress a second time.
7. Get a Head Start
Avoid the paycheck to paycheck habit by starting your holiday shopping now. This will spread your purchases over the course of a few weeks instead of all in a few days.
This should be no problem since you already have your budget, list of names, and list of purchases. All you have to do is carve out the time to go shopping.
8. Shop Online
If you dread the crowds or going to multiple places to find the best deals, shop online! Most times you can qualify for free shipping and it only takes a few clicks to compare prices.
Online shopping also tends to offer discount codes and coupons that can only be redeemed online and not in stores. These deals typically happen around the holiday season so keep an eye out for those.
Just make sure you do your online shopping early enough so that your packages arrive in the mail on-time.
9. Gift Cards
Ain’t no shame in the gift card game. I know these are controversial, but most people prefer a gift card over something they don’t want and won’t use. Gift cards take the guesswork out of what to buy someone. They also help with budgeting as it’s a flat rate you can decide on.
The great thing about gift cards is that it doesn’t have to be a basic gift card like Starbucks or some restaurant. Most places now have a gift card or gift certificate option. You can get someone a gift card to their favorite store and I guarantee you they will love it.
If you do plan to give out gift cards, just make sure it’s paired with a handwritten card in order to personalize the gift a bit more.
10. Pitch in for Bigger Gifts
This usually works well with siblings or friends. If you know someone wants a gift that you just can’t afford, split the cost with a sibling or a friend. This way you are still getting them exactly what they want but at a cheaper rate.
If you do plan to split the costs, try and collect the money upfront to ensure that everyone pays their part. And, don’t forget to give everyone credit for buying the present!
11. Meaningful/Practical Over Filler Gifts
If you don’t know what to get someone, ask! It’s better to ask than to waste money on a present that will eventually be discarded or regifted. Think about you for a moment. Don’t you want something meaningful or practical rather than a random gift you care nothing about? I know I do.
There’s no point in wasting money on a not so great gift. If you don’t know what to get someone and you’re worried about getting them something they won’t like, just ask them. If it’s out of your budget, get them a gift card so they can at least have some money going towards their desired gift.
Asking people what they want also helps when crafting your budget. You’ll be able to see the exact amount of each gift and have a more solid outlook on your expected spending.
12. DIY or Cooking
If you don’t necessarily want to buy someone a gift and you think a card isn’t enough, make them something. This could either be a DIY gift or it could be a food dish. There are many affordable and cute DIY projects out there that don’t take a lot of time and still show effort. If you go the cooking/baking route, these can be made in a batch and given out to neighbors and co-workers. Just make sure you wrap it up real pretty and give it out with a handwritten card. I’ve always found that I save money when I make DIY gifts and people still enjoy.
The Holiday season can be full of joy and fun, but that can all be overshadowed by the post-holiday financial blues. Make up your mind now that you will not overspend and/or break your budget. You’ll rest easier at night knowing you spent only what you could afford.
Best of luck!