With the holiday season just around the corner, I thought it would be helpful to come up with some helpful tips and tricks to curb that spending that is troublesome every year. Whether it’s attending parties, buying gifts, or bringing your family together to celebrate, you need to figure out how you will be able to afford everything you want to do this year. That’s why I wrote down 10 things to keep in mind this year.
- Make a List
At this point in the year, if you haven’t done so already, make a list! Write down who you will be getting gifts for. Consider how important they are to you and how much you are willing to spend compared to everyone else. Aside from people, write down any parties you may be invited to, whether you need to bring food or presents, wear a costume, or anything else. These extra costs sometimes fly under the radar and quickly add up!
- Sometimes it’s OK to Say No
Once you have gathered everything into the list, some of them may not make the cut. Consider how much money you have total to spend throughout the holidays and whether or not it exceeds your expected costs. If it looks like you’re going to be over-budget, you might need to decline a party invitation, or even remove someone from your list. This should be a last resort, which is why I have some tips that could prevent that from happening.
- Homemade Gifts
Especially today, gifts can be expensive. No one wants to get their family something cheap and disappoint them. Lucky for you, that doesn’t need to be the case! Presents you make yourself can be even better than something bought while also be much less of a financial burden. Something as simple as a family photo for parents or grandparents, or a favorite food for children can be memorable.
- Avoid the Latest Model
Marketing efforts from companies these days will try and convince you that their newest version is a must buy. However, this is often not the case. They often only have a small amount of new or improved features that rarely justify the price hike. Plus, a new model tends to accompany a price decrease for the previous one. Save some money this holiday season by ignoring the big flashy ads and buy last year’s product.
- Take Your Time
If you’re anything like me, you have the places you like to shop, and you stick with them. While this is comfortable, they might not have the best deal for that new toy. Use your phone to price check with other stores! Many stores have a price match policy to compete with everyone else. You might save some money by taking a few more minutes to do a little research.
- Remember Your List
While you’re out shopping for the necessities, it’s easy to get distracted by something that looks nice. Bring your list with you and stick to it. You made a budget for a reason, don’t let those impulse buys bring you over the edge. It’s ok to make some changes if your heart wants it, just make sure your wallet does too!
- Consider Using a Credit Card
Many credit cards today have a cash back rewards system that incentivizes you to use them. They can be travel rewards, store rewards, or straight cash in your pocket. Who doesn’t like free money! With extra spending this time of year, those rewards can really help you keep a lid on the money you spend. Keep an eye out for seasonal promotions as well, like no interest for a period of time. Speaking of interest, if you can’t afford to pay off what you spend within the month, using cash may be the better idea. Interest can very quickly override any benefits you may have been trying to take advantage of.
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday
While the general consensus is that these are some of the best times to buy, it might be better to let them pass. With so many advertised deals going around, it’s easy to get carried away buying items you’ve been wanting or are cheaper than normal. This can quickly take away from what you need to buy for everyone else. Stick to your gift list and only buy if it makes sense. Remind yourself that great deals can be had all year round. Think Presidents Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and, of course, Labor Day. Another example is Super Bowl Sunday. Rather than buying a TV on Cyber Monday, you could wait until late January. TV prices tend to drop just before the big game.
- Save Year-Round
This may be obvious and easier said than done, but set aside money for the holidays throughout the year. By putting away some money every paycheck or every month, you can save up for some larger purchases and make the end of the year far less stressful. Some banks and credit unions may offer a holiday savings account that will hold your money and automatically release it near the end of the year. This can help you fight any urges to spend some of the extra money each month. One other tip is to set an automatic deposit from your paycheck, or transfer from your checking account. “Out of sight out of mind” is a common phrase but more powerful than you think. When you don’t have to choose to save $25 the process of saving becomes much easier.
- Set Expectations
If all else fails and money is tight, don’t be afraid to talk to your loved ones. Let them know that you can’t afford to spend as much as last year or as much as everyone else can. They want you to be happy and are willing to help more than you give them credit for. Instead of sharing gifts with everyone, maybe you can set up a secret Santa so that each person is only assigned one other person to get a gift for. The family still gets to come together and celebrate the year, while also limiting how much money is expected to be spent.