The holidays can be one of the most wonderful (and expensive) times of the year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save while you celebrate. Check out our tips below to help you save a bit during the holiday season.
1. Make a holiday budget, check it twice
The best way to avoid overspending during the holidays is to set a budget. Even if you live by a budget throughout the year, it’s a good idea to set a budget specifically for the holidays. Include categories for gifts, activities, and any other holiday expenses you’re anticipating this year. It might even be a good idea to add an extra category for emergency or unexpected holiday expenses, just in case. Then, make sure your expenses don’t exceed your budgeted money, which is how much you can afford to spend without breaking the bank. As you spend your money this season, check your budget often to make sure you’re sticking to your holiday spending plan.
2. Cut back on non-holiday expenses
Make up for your extra holiday spending by cutting back in other places. Try to reduce all other non-essential expense categories in your budget during the holidays, like entertainment and eating out. You can try to save on groceries by searching for coupons or buying store brands during the holidays. You can also cancel certain subscriptions just for the holiday months, if the services allow it. By saving a little here and a little there, you can put the extra money toward a planned holiday party, decorations, or gifts.
3. Start shopping Early
Procrastinating your holiday shopping almost always ends with bigger price tags. Start shopping as early as you can, find deals online, and take advantage of early holiday sales (including Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals) to find something for everyone on your list. If you know what you want to buy someone, try comparing online prices and tracking if they’re going up or down in price. If you’re not sure what to buy someone, look at the sales for ideas on what to give your loved ones this year.
4. Get creative with gift giving
Not all gifts have to be store-bought. Some of the most personal, well-remembered gifts come from the heart and are homemade. A simple holiday card with a meaningful message, a homemade batch of cookies, or a DIY holiday decoration are sometimes the best gifts to both give and receive. Not to mention, they’re usually much less expensive than buying something for everyone on your list. You can even turn making holiday gifts instead of buying them into a family challenge for everyone.
5. Resist the urge to spoil yourself
When everyone is spending money on holiday gifts, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a little something for yourself too. This year, wait to see what gifts you might get from others before you spend money on yourself. If you can’t resist the urge, always include every expense in your budget (even the ones you make for yourself). That way, you can buy guilt-free, knowing your end-of-year treat won’t break the bank.
6. Suggest a Gift Exchange
One creative way to limit the number of gifts you’ll have to purchase is by participating in a gift exchange with friends, family, and co-workers. Instead of buying something small for many people, you can buy something a little more personal for just one. You could also consider doing an inexpensive White Elephant gift exchange, which can be even more fun and entertaining than giving actual gifts. Or, consider pooling your money to make a charitable holiday contribution instead.
7. Share responsibilities and expenses
Getting together with family and friends is one of the best parts of the holidays. But parties can be expensive if you’re doing everything on your own. If you’re hosting a get-together this season, consider doing a potluck-style dinner, and invite everyone to contribute something small to a larger meal. When you share responsibilities, you save money without compromising the fun.
8. Start saving for next year
When your holiday shopping season is finally over, start making preparations for next year’s expenses. Set aside money right now — a little every month — so you don’t have to stress next season about coming up with extra cash to cover the extra holiday expenses. Calculate how much you spent this year, divide that number by 12, and try to set aside that amount each month throughout the year. While this might not help you this year, you’ll thank yourself next year if you stuck with it.
It might be the most expensive time of the year. But with these helpful tips, you can make the holiday season merry, bright and budget-friendly!