Tips for Saving a Little Money During the Holidays
The holiday season can be tough on your budget with gifts, entertaining, and meals all putting an extra strain on your bottom line. So how are you to survive another holiday season with your budget intact? We have five tips for how to save during the holidays to help you out.
Make a shopping list
Before you start picking up gifts for everyone you think you need to shop for—and maybe some people you do not—start by making a list of who you need to get a gift for this season. Once you have your list, you can consider how much you want to spend on each. This stage is a great point to start considering your budget—does everyone on your shopping list really need a gift? Would they be just as happy (or happier) with a batch of homemade cookies or a hand-written holiday card? Laying out these shopping guidelines up front will help you avoid overspending and help you set up a holiday budget.
Set a budget
Be realistic: How much can you afford to spend this holiday season? The goal here is not to make a budget that has you spending the least possible—or a budget that lets you do as much shopping as you could possibly want. Abandoning practicality here likely means you’ll ignore your budget altogether, so it won’t be a useful tool to help keep your spending in line. Once you have a budget, the next step is to track your spending: Hang on to receipts ant total them up regularly to see how your spending matches up with your planned budget. If you go off track you can reign yourself back in before your holiday spending goes overboard.
Decide on spending limits
Gift-giving is a pricey proposition, and you may find your friends and family in the same holiday budgeting conundrum that you are. Talk to them about setting dollar limits for gifts, banding together to buy gifts as a group, giving things like babysitting or a homemade meal rather than traditional presents, or even eschewing gifts entirely. You don’t need to exchange pricey gifts to make the holiday season special, and even setting moderate limits on your gift-giving can be a big help for everyone’s expenses this season.
Dial down your extra spending
If you have must-do holiday spending, but are having trouble scraping up the cash to cover it, now’s the time to cut back on unnecessary expenses to save. Do you stop at the local coffee shop for a fancy drink every weekday? Do you go out for lunch at the office every day? Does your family have meals out (or take-out) a few times a week? Even though one cup of coffee may not seem like enough savings to matter, cutting back on small expenses like this will add up over the month. We recommend looking at what you’re spending on extras like this, doing the math, and deciding whether the savings is worth the trouble. In the end, making more meals at home and packing a travel mug full of coffee in the morning can save a good amount without making you feel like you’re tightening your belt too much.
Turn your holiday celebrations into potlucks
The holidays are a time to celebrate—but whether you’re hosting family or friends that can mean a hefty price tag. One easy solution, to both save some cash and get your guests more involved in the celebration, is to make the meal a potluck. Everyone can bring a food dish, drinks, or other supplies to help offset costs—plus you’ll have a more varied selection of dishes and the chance for guests to swap recipes and compare favorites. It’s a win all around.
Make the most of your credit card this seasonYou are going to be spending over the holidays, so why not put it on a credit card that offers rewards or other extras?