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.
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.
Related: How Much Should I Budget for Groceries
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.
Related: How to Have a Debt Free Christmas
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!
Make sure you shop for your gift cards at a discount too! Ebay often has discounts of 5% – or more – on the cards you want. In addition, take advantage of bonus gift card offers as well, where you get a free gift card for yourself when you purchase another. This is a simple way to get a smaller gift card for someone on your list — for free!
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.
Related: Why LOVE Gifts Make the Perfect Gifts
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.
Scroll through the pages of Pinterest to get inspiration and ideas.
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!
Check out rebate sites, such as Ebates, which pay you a small percentage of your purchase back. You can also use Paribus, which watches your purchases for price drops and pays you back if the price drops within a few days after you you shop.
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 FitBit. The original FitBit flex has been upgraded to newer, sleeker styles.
However, you can still find older versions for sale — often for less money. It might help your budget to purchase an older model rather than go into debt.
Related: How You Can Make Money with Your Activity Tracker
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.
One way to control your spending is to use the cash envelope system for Christmas shopping — but a bit differently. Create envelopes for every person on your holiday list. Then, get the cash you have to spend on each of them and fill your envelope. As you shop, use the cash for each person on your purchases. When you are out of money – you are done shopping!
If you don’t want to go into that much detail, even an envelope filled with your entire holiday spending budget is wise. As you shop, keep track of every purchase. You’ll always know how much you have left to spend and won’t go into debt shopping.
Since you can’t use cash on-line, be careful about overspending! Even though you are not using cash, keep track of every purchase so you can see how much you’ve spent – and what is left to spend.
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 each year to decorate, 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.
11. OPT FOR NO GIFTS
As an adult, for me the holiday is about being with my family and seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces. Luckily, my husband’s family agrees. We actually stopped exchanging gifts with the adults.
It really helped as that was 3 less we needed to purchase, which has helped save us more than $50 – $75 each holiday season. None of us miss opening a present and would rather visit and catch up instead anyhow.
12. FOLLOW THE SALES
There will be a LOT of great deals and sales coming up in November. In fact, some of the best deals will be found on-line on the Wednesday and Thursday leading up to Black Friday. Try to set aside some time to check out the deals so you can find the item you want at the price you can afford.
13. SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTERS
If you plan on shopping online go ahead and sign up for company emails and newsletters. They will email you when there are good deals and coupon codes, so you will know right away in your inbox. This can help you get that deal you have been waiting for.
14. USE COUPONS
Even if you aren’t big on coupons at the grocery store, you should not overlook them during the holiday season. Using an app, such as Coupon Sherpa, puts all of the coupons right at your fingertips. When you are in the store, scan for a coupon you can use!
Related: How The Coupon Database Saves You Money
15. GET INGREDIENTS FROM THE RIGHT STORE
When you are ready to buy the ingredients for your holiday baking, check out stores such as Aldi, where you can find them at much lower prices. If your store happens to run a sale on items you’ll need, grab extras.
Just because it costs less does not mean that you are sacrificing quality. It just means you are smart with your money!
16. IMPLEMENT THE FIVE MINUTE RULE
When shopping, add the item(s) you want to your cart. Then, walk around the store (or step away from your computer) for at least five minutes. If you still want the item after that time, then it go ahead and buy it. However, if you have second thoughts, put it back on the shelf and give yourself more time to think about it.
With a little planning, you can have the holiday you want without breaking the bank!