December always brings a cheerful atmosphere. Who doesn’t love the holidays? Family, fun, time off, somehow everyone seems to be more cheerful around this time, which makes me smile. But it also means more parties, entertaining, decorating and gifts.
We don’t want to be happy for just one month and worry about paying December credit card bill throughout the next year. So here is my list of money saving tips for the holidays. With a little planning you can save money, reduce stress and have a fun filled holiday.
- Make a budget : If you have already made a holiday budget and been saving for it throughout the year, excellent! If not, make a budget now and include everything
- Make a gift plan : Create a gift plan with the list of all recipient, ideas for gifts, if you don’t have ideas – write down their interest to find something, MAX dollar amount.
- Stick to your budget : If you cannot find an ideal gift within your budget, make do with whatever the best gift you can find within your range. There is no point in going into debt for this. Instead show your love using a heart felt letter or spending time with them.
- Make do without the gift giving for adults. Instead, have a get together and give gifts only for the kids in the family.
- Comparison shop : Know the prices before you get out of the house. If you have to go on a “pre-shopping” trip, so be it. Don’t buy anything on this pre-shopping trip, just note down the prices for all the gifts in your list and go home check the prices online along with shipping. This should give a better idea of the price range and the best place to buy.
- Stick to the gift list : I am very bad at this. I change my mind as I go along, this is the first year I have decided what I am buying and bought just that. This tip alone saved me a lot of money.
- Look for deals and sales : If you are buying online, google [store name + "coupon"] you will end up with some coupon, even if it is for free shipping, you are saving money.
- Buy in bulk : For commonly used items like holiday treats or baking supplies, try to buy in bulk along with a neighbor, family or a friend.
- Homemade gifts : Instead of buying gifts make your own gifts. Here are some ideas to get you started – 73+ homemade gifts.
- Give time : Give your time instead of money or a gift.
- Get a part time job : If you can spare some time, consider getting a part time job in a department store. You could make some money for the holidays and also make use of the employee discounts for all your gifts.
- Wrapping paper : Instead of buying wrapping paper, make your own with your kids artwork. This will be more personal than newspaper wrapping and will mean something to the recipient as well. Involve the kids and make a project out of it. If you have to buy wrapping papers for cheap, the dollar stores are good for this.
- Make ornaments : Similar to the wrapping paper, instead of buying expensive ornaments, make ornaments from kids artwork or with some meaningful photos.
- Food drives : Instead of office gift exchanges, suggest a food drive where you can bring canned and non-perishable food for the local food bank. This won’t save much money, but at least you are not stuck with buying a lame gift for a coworker you don’t even know well.
- Pot luck : For parties (whether you are attending or hosting) suggest pot luck instead of just one person doing all the cooking and cleaning. Saves time and money.
- Pick your parties : Attend the parties that are more meaningful to you and skip the ones from an acquaintance or coworker you don’t know well.
- Plan your vacations : Traveling a day earlier or later can save a lot of money.
- Skimp on outdoor lighting : Consider going light with the lighting. You can also use LED lights, they use much less energy so you won’t get stuck with a humongous power bill in January. You could also change the regular bulbs to a colored one to add festive effect and leave it at that.
- Don’t replicate your parents : This is one of the mistake I make, not with just holidays, but generally. I forget that it took my parents probably 50 years to collect all the stuff they have. I am just starting out so there is no need to have it all the first time.
- Buy throughout the year : It is not possible to do this for this year, but the best time to shop for Christmas is the week after Christmas when everything Christmas-related goes on clearance. Stock up on stuff that won’t get spoiled – decorations, ornaments, gift wrapping and even gifts.
What are your favorite money saving tips? Do you have a weakness or you always plan well?