Best Ways to Save Money During the Holidays
According to a recent poll – on average a typical family spends between $500-$1000 on Christmas each year. These numbers do not reflect food, time off work, or any other expenditures leading up to this day. Spending your money wisely should be the #1 item on your Christmas list this year. Do not think that trimming your budget means you need to sacrifice your most precious holiday experiences. Before any shopping trip we have compiled a list of must-do’s to keep the stress levels low and a few more shekels in your pocket.
1. Make a budget and STICK WITH IT
To set your holiday budget for gift giving it maybe best to first set a spending cap. If you have 4 people to buy for allocate your spending cap and divide it among those 4. This can get tricky as you may not have included stocking stuffers or your impromptu Christmas Eve Pajamas. When setting this budget separate what you will spend on Christmas day, Christmas Eve, and stocking stuffers (these could be a costly expense). Make sure that your budget is reasonable to what you typically would spend on each category.
2. Write it down and keep track
How many times have you bought for your significant other and realized that you have bought too much, too little, or forgot an item? Compile a list either handwritten or our personal favorite- and Excel spreadsheet. This way you can stay organized and when all of your gifts are stuffed in a closet you will already know what you have bought and still need to purchase. Spreadsheets can also help you with the actual cost you have spent on each item. This will help you keep track of who gets what and what category it was in.
3. Cut Back on Extras
Don’t get caught up in spending money on extras. Think your stocking stuffers aren’t enough to stuff it full? Sometimes those stocking stuffers may have a gift card in there or something that is more valuable than others. Cutting back on those extras can have a big impact on your bottom line.
4. Use the Secret Santa Method
Instead of buying for each member of the family or even pulling names out of a hat, decide instead to use the Secret Santa method. Choose to purchase gifts for the anonymous family member. The key to a Secret Santa is to prevent from spending too much or too little on your “favorite” family member. Not only does a Secret Santa experience help relieve some of the stress and financial burden of exchanging gifts with every member of my family, it also prevents feelings of guilt of not purchasing a perfect gift.
5. Choose Cheaper Traditions
Traditions are what make the holidays so special, but they can be a financial burden. If your traditions include holiday travel, paying for a special attraction, or surprising your kids with extravagant gifts, you might find yourself going significantly over budget in the name of family.
While traditions are important and admirable, they don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In fact, you might find that your kids prefer the cheap stuff to the grander gestures. So many activities and traditions are inexpensive, or even free – you just have to know where to look. By making cheaper events and traditions part of your celebration, you can save money without skimping on the festivities and memories.
6. Potluck Dinners
Buying food for 10 + people can put a huge financial strain on any family. Potluck dinners are almost always a great idea. Let’s face it – everyone always asks anyways if you would like them to bring something. Say YES! Bring a dessert, a side dish, or maybe even utensils. Everyone enjoys a potluck because each person gets to display a dish that they’ve made.
7. Be careful with the “sales gimmicks”
Holiday sales can be an epic opportunity to save money – but be careful. Some may not even be truly discounted, as some stores keep prices the same but simply mark items with a “sale” sign.
Always comparison shop before you purchase an item during a sale. There are a few apps out there to help compare prices such as ShopSavvy. It allows you to scan the bar code of any item and see prices at nearby stores and Internet retailers to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Always remember sales are great, but they don’t mean much if the money isn’t in your budget. Always bring a printout of your budget so you can check your spending in real-time.
8. Know when you’re done
He’s making a list and checking it twice – this will deter you from aimlessly running around and picking up last minute items that you may not need. Save you stocking stuffers for the last trip. We like to keep all stocking stuffers for each person in their own shopping bag to stay organized.
9. Final Thoughts
It’s easy to get caught up in the spending cycle during the holidays. If you follow these simple tools and learn how to stretch your dollar you should not have to dread checking your bank account on December 26th.