Do you tend to get caught up in the holidays and spend more on gifts and festivities than they you probably should? Well, you’re not alone. But all the year-end celebrations and merriment don’t have to completely break the bank. By saving money, cutting back on expenses and spending wisely you can keep your costs down without sacrificing your holiday cheer. Here’s a few tips:
Set Your Holiday Budget
Review your holiday spending from last year and figure out where you may have spent more than you planned. Next, make a list of the purchases you want to make this year – gifts, meals, decorations, travel, donations and entertainment. Once you have a list, create a budget for each person on your list, along with an estimate for your other expenses. Make note of the activities you have planned, food you may need to buy for a family dinner, the cost to board your pets if you are traveling and the cost to make your world famous holiday cookies.
Consider reallocating some of your typical spending and put it towards the holiday budget. Cutting back on monthly expenses like restaurant dining in November and December can save you hundreds of dollars. Always remember to be honest about how much money you can responsibly spend so you can make an accurate budget. Knowing your spending goals ahead of time will go a long way towards keeping you on track this holiday.
Establish Cheaper Traditions for Your Family
Traditions often make the holiday season special, but many of them are expensive. If you’re planning that yearly trip to see relatives, consider booking your flights earlier than peak travel days, or add a couple extra days to make the drive and save on airfare. Instead of adding to your holiday lawn display, save that money and take a tour of the towns in your area that have decorated the streets with lights. Instead of taking the whole family out to see a movie, try starting a tradition of watching holiday films with hot chocolate at home. Or have a family cookie baking day.
Create Your Own Holiday Gifts
If money is tight or you simply want to cut back on what you spend for the holidays, consider foregoing store-bought gifts and give homemade ones instead. Your family and friends may appreciate hand-crafted presents even more than something you could get them in a store. If you don’t have any ideas for homemade gifts, a variety of online sites like Real Simple and Tip Junkie can get you started.
Another way to get creative and save money is to send e-cards. E-cards are free, or cost a fraction of the price of a physical card, and don't need postage. Today’s e-cards are quite interactive and fun, offering animation and music you can’t get with store bought cards.
Be Smart When You Shop
If you don’t want to create your own gifts, make sure you shop smart. Never go out and buy that fancy Star Wars Lego set at the first store you find it in. Take the time to compare prices at different stores. There are also a variety of bargain websites like Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local and Ebay that may offer the products you want at discounted prices, or coupons at the stores you shop at. During the holiday season, many retailers offer in-store and online sales each week in November and December. Make sure to get on the mailing lists for your favorite retailers so you are alerted when holiday bargains are offered.
These are just a few tips to help you save during the holidays. Take a moment to plan your expenses and think of ways you can potentially cut back on costs. Not only will you still be able to celebrate the holidays, you’ll get to celebrate afterwards with a few more bucks in your pocket.