The holidays bring joy, family, parties and gifts. It is a time to spend with family and friends. Sadly, it can also be a time of excessive spending. There are some things you can do to help make sure that you are keeping your spending in check. Below are my ten best money saving tips!
1. BUDGET. BUDGET. BUDGET.
Before you allow yourself to overspend, take a look at your budget and decide ahead of time how much you have to spend. That might mean you have to scale back and find a $25 gift rather than something worth $50 in order to make it work. Make sure you keep track of your spending and revisit your budget frequently to make sure that you don’t overspend.
2. MAKE YOUR LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE.
Once you have your budget set, make your “Buy For” list. Next to each person’s name, indicate the amount you plan to spend on them. As you shop, update the sheet with the amount you actually spent. This will help you stay on track and within your budget.
3. OPT FOR THE GIFT CARD.
Many think of gift cards as an easy way out of buying a gift. That is not true. Many would rather get a gift card so that they can purchase what they want, rather than stand in long lines to return something that they did not want. It not only helps your recipient. but you as well. You can’t over spend when you get a gift card. If you budgeted $25 for someone, you simply purchase a $25 card and you are right on budget!
4. GO FOR THE NO-COST GIFT.
Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones which really cost nothing. Rather than give a gift, offer up a service. Perhaps, give some coupons for free babysitting to new parents. Or, offer to mow take care of the yard. You might even offer to bring someone a tray of baked goodies once a month, all year long. Just think outside of the box and you might be able to give nothing but of yourself.
5. MAKE YOUR GIFT.
This kind of piggy-back’s off of the no-cost gift, but why not make something. My children make a gift for their grandparents every Christmas. It ends up being one of their favorite gifts. In most cases, I spend little to nothing to make these. The kids get to have fun creating with mom and the grandparents get something truly unique and one of a kind. You might be able to knit a sweater, build something in your workshop – the ideas are endless.
6. SHOP ONLINE.
With all of the deals and codes available, you can often get a better deal when you shop online. The savings is not always about money, it is also about your time. Think of it like this – you don’t have to get dressed, drive to the mall, fight the crowds and drive back home. Your time is worth something. Many sites offer discounts and even free shipping this time of the year. Some sites don’t even charge sales tax (depending upon where you live). So you can save not only fuel and time costs – but possibly even sales tax!
7. OLDER CAN BE WISER.
When it comes to having the latest and greatest, that may not be an option. The cost my be out of reach. Take for instance, the Leapfrog Leappad. There was a version last holiday season and a newer one came out this past October. Now that there is a Leappad 2, the Leappad 1 can be found at a much reduced cost. The differences between the models are minimal and it might be within your budget to just get last year’s model instead of going into debt.
8. KNOW WHEN TO USE CASH OR PLASTIC
Cash is king when shopping in the stores. When you use plastic, you can quickly overspend and not even realize it until the bills come – or when you balance your checkbook and realize your debit card took a workout. What I recommend you do is place all of the cash you have budgeted into an envelope. Then, as you shop, note the amount you spent on the outside so you can keep a running total of how much you have left to spend. When you have to account for every single penny, you usually think twice before spending.
Of course, if you shop online, you can’t use cash. When we make an online purchase, I simply pull that cash from our envelope and deposit it at the bank. When you do shop on-line with your credit or debit card, make sure you monitor your account very carefully — to watch for theft. It happens quickly, so make sure you review it quite frequently to avoid being taken to the cleaners.
9. REUSE YOUR DECORATIONS.
Instead of spending money now for new decor, wait. Once the holiday season is over, you can pick it up at 50% off (or more) and just set it back for the next holiday season. You will probably forget you purchase it, so when you pull out the boxes in December 2013, you will find lots of fun surprises!!!
10. REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.
Christmas (or whichever holiday you partake in this time of year) is not about what you get from someone. It is simply about being together. Holidays are for family and friends and enjoying time together. It is about the birth of Jesus Christ. When you focus on what the season is really about, it can help you stay on track.