Tips for Saving Money During the Holiday Season
‘Tis the season for overspending! Between holiday travel, gifts for friends, family and colleagues, parties and so on, it’s easy to dig yourself into a financial hole over the holidays. The problem is this can add stress to the holidays and none of us need that!
According to a recent survey, the average American is going to spend $600 on gifts alone, for the 2018 holiday season. 25% of those same respondents admit they’ll probably incur some debt because of spending during the holidays. That’s a lot of extra stress!
So how can you avoid falling into the holiday debt trap?
1. Make a plan and stick to it
Well before you hit the stores, make a list of people you are shopping for this season and a budget. It can be tough to stick to it, particularly when the sale signs and impulse shopping hit you at the store or online, but it’s the key to staying on track. Just be realistic with it: if you trim the plan too tightly, you are bound to get frustrated and go over your limit! You might also want to set up an ‘extra’ fund, for items that you forgot about!
Your budget needs to include more than gifts too. There is always spending that people forget about during the holidays, such as extra food and wine for holiday meals, decorations, the tree, lights, traveling expenses and so on. Find ways to share the costs on some of these. if you’re hosting Christmas dinner, consider making it a potluck. Maybe the main dish is your domain, but your guests can bring some of the sides to take some of the stress off!
2. Track your spending
The only way to make sure you’re staying on budget is to track your spending. Ideally, you’ll leave yourself a little wiggle room of dollars and cents in case a last-minute gift needs to be bought, or you need more food for a few extra guests at dinner!
When you’re done shopping, or you’ve spent your budget, stop! And if you know you’re prone to being sucked into those last-minute holiday specials, leave something until later, like stocking stuffers. That way you can indulge your impulse without killing your budget.
3. Trim your gifting list
This doesn’t mean putting everyone on your ‘naughty’ list, but do you really need to buy a gift for your dentist, when a nice card will do? Trim your gifting list to the essential people: kids, spouse, immediate family, and very close friends. For other people, you can suggest doing a Secret Santa, particularly at work or with larger friend groups and extended family.
4. Look for free holiday activities
From ice skating at an outdoor rink or sledding at the local hill to taking a drive in the evening to take in all the beautiful holiday lights, there are always plenty of things to do during the holidays that won’t cost a fortune, if anything at all! It just requires a little research and planning on your part to dig up activities that your family would enjoy! Here are some other ideas to get you started:
Watch a holiday movie at home with cocoa and marshmallows
Go see a Santa, at the mall or elsewhere
Make one day of holiday baking a family affair: get everyone involved in baking, decorating and, yes, sampling!
Go caroling or take in a holiday show at the local school or church.
Go to the library and stock up on some holiday reading and DVDs
5. Give back
While the holiday season is expensive, it’s also a great time to remind yourself and your family that there are others who don’t have what you have. Make sure you take some time to do something kind for someone else. This is a great tradition with a lesson! Some examples can include:
Donate to a charity, like a toy drive so that other kids can have something on Christmas morning too.
Do some volunteer work: assemble care packages, work on a coat drive, collect donations for the local animal shelter.
6. Take care of yourself
There is something to be said for making sure that you leave something in the budget and in your time planning for a little self-care. The holidays can be stressful, so be sure to include a little something for yourself this holiday season. There’s nothing like a massage from Elements Massage to help hit the reset button. Visit our website to find an Elements Massage near you.