We’re all feeling the pinch this holiday season. All too often, we overspend in December and then feel the pain in January. By spending our money wisely during the holidays, we can have just as much fun without the old familiar January pain. Because this will take a little planning, sit down right now and take notes on the four best ways to save this holiday season.
If you want to avoid the January chill, you absolutely must make and stick to a budget. Make a list of all the things you usually spend money on during the holidays. Write down the obvious items like gifts for the kids, gifts for the family and gifts for friends and coworkers. Don’t forget decorations, party foods and wrapping supplies. Also include some of the less obvious things like the money you spend on meals while you’re out shopping, gift packaging and holiday events.
Now take your list and order them by importance. Can you convince the family to buy only for the kids this year, or at least to limit adult gifts to only one? Can you make do with the decorations you had last year? Can you take snacks with you while you are shopping instead of eating out? Maybe you can even have a potluck holiday dinner where everyone brings a dish so you are not the only one dishing out the cash for food.
Once you know your priorities, you can allocate the available amount of cash to each. If you have to wrap the kids’ presents in newspaper comics, they’re not going to complain! They just want the presents. If your supply of decorations is truly a shambles, try sites like freecycle.org where you can ask for any decorations someone else doesn’t need any more. And maybe, just this year, you can skip the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show. It all depends on what is most important to you.
Saving on Presents
Now that you know how much you have to spend on gifts, you want to stretch each dollar. Go to discount stores that sell large lots on toys, sweaters, barbeque accessories, gadgets and the like. Go online and see what you can find on sites like Overstock and Buy.com. If you have a particular item in mind, the gift your child just must have, look it up on froogle.com to find the best price. While chasing after every sale is exhausting and a waste of gas, it is a good idea to browse through the flyers. You might see a particular stop you should fit into your shopping route for big savings.
You should only spend the money you have in the bank now. Sometimes, no matter how much you skimp, your budget simply does not fit into your bank account. If this happens to you and choose to use your credit cards, make sure you use the card with the lowest rate. Also have a plan worked out for how much you will pay off each month and stick to it. You do not want to be paying for the holidays next June when you should be saving for next December’s holiday season.
Plan for Next Year
It’s a little late to tell you to plan ahead at this point. But if you want to save even more on the holidays, you have to plan for next year now. It’s not as hard as it may sound. You simply take advantage of the January deep discounts on items you know the kids will love next year. Classic games are a good example. You can also pick up clothes for next winter in the next size up. Grab a few Secret Santa gifts to sock away for next year. Just be sure to keep a list in an easy to find place so you don’t buy the same things again next year.