'Tis the Season for Saving

The holidays are officially here. Prepare yourself…and your wallet! Between decorations, gifts and social events, you may find yourself spending more than you expected. I’ve put together five tips for saving this holiday season!

1. Secret Santa

If you have a large family and a big group of friends, buying gifts for every person can get costly. With the Secret Santa gift exchange, everyone gets a gift, but you only have to buy one present. Put the name of each Secret Santa participant in a hat, and then have each person draw a name without announcing who they selected. You simply buy a gift for the person whose name you drew. It’s an easy way to save money without sacrificing the fun!

2. Make a list and check it twice

No, you don’t have to make a naughty or nice list. But after putting together a holiday budget, make a list of all the people you want to buy gifts for. Decide how much money you can spend on each person and stick to it! There are a number of free smartphone apps that can help you keep track of your spending. Mint, Level Money, Dollarbird and BillGuard are all available on both iOS and Android. If your list amount exceeds your budget, go back through and cut the amount you’ll spend per person. Once you’re within your budget, make sure you stay consistent and buy exactly what you budgeted. It’s easy to get carried away in the spirit of the season and splurge on friends and loved ones.

3. Allow yourself enough time

If you haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, do it as soon as possible! With just under two weeks until Christmas, you still have time. But the longer you wait, the easier it is to stray away from your budget. When you start shopping early, you have time to shop around for good deals. When you wait too long, you might end up paying more than you expected for a gift you’re not sure they’ll like. If you’re planning on shopping online, I wouldn’t wait much longer! You have to factor in shipping time and the fact that a lot of popular items are backordered this time of year. 

4. Avoid credit cards

If possible, avoid shopping with credit cards. You’re more likely to overspend when you don’t see the immediate effects of your purchase. It can also result in you paying for the holidays well into the spring season. Try to use either your debit card or cash when you’re out buying gifts. Set a limit and take out that money from your credit union. When that money’s gone, it’s over. No more shopping!

5. Homemade gifts

Making your own gifts is an easy way to save money during the holidays and it also adds some heart to the gifts you give. With the introduction of Pinterest, homemade presents are no longer something to cringe about! If you’re looking for inspiration on crafting a gift, I suggest looking there first! The holidays can also be a stressful time, and slowing down to get creative and craft can help take some of that stress away!

What tips do you have on saving money during the holiday season? I’d love to know!

Take care,

Jake