The holidays are upon us and it’s time to ‘deck the halls with boughs of holly.” Tis the season for building snowmen, shopping at the mall, and enjoying the holiday festivities. It truly is the most magical time of the year. Yet, it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year.
Why? The average American planned to spend $935.58 last holiday season – and that number is expected to grow by around 4% this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Do you know what you’re planning on spending this year?
The TD Ameritrade survey states that 37% of consumers don’t track their holiday spending at all, while 63% of consumers either save money specifically for holiday gifts or cut back on other expenses to make up the difference.
Are you worried about spending too much this holiday season? Here are a few ways you can save money and spend less during this holiday season.
1. Make a budget. The best way to plan and stay within your budget is to decide how much you can afford to spend before you make a list of who you want to buy for this year. Look at your finances and decide what you can spend without breaking the bank. Then you can start writing your list of planned expenses during the holidays.
2. Make a list and check it twice. Now that you know how much you can afford, it’s time to decide who you’d like to buy gifts for and how much you plan on spending on each person. Knowing your budget before making this list will help you to not overspend on gifts. Make sure you add the little expenses as well. For instance, remember to add stocking stuffers, Christmas cards, holiday decorations, party favors, and planned holiday activities. These little things can add up quickly and ruin your budget.
3. Use Gift Cards. Now is the time to cash in on those gift cards you’ve been collecting throughout the year. And, if you have points on your credit card rewards program, use them now to get more gift cards. The more you can spend on gift cards, the less you’ll have to spend out of your own pocket. But make sure to include your gift cards on your budget list, so you can keep track of what you’re spending via gift cards and what you’re spending with your own money.
4. Use credit cards. If you need to pay for something, you could use your credit card to build your credit score and earn more credit card reward points. Just make sure you can pay it off by the end of the month to avoid interest fees.
5. Keep track of your budget. Once you’ve created your budget and checked it twice, you should keep track of your expenses. When you buy a present, check it off your list. If you spend money on something that wasn’t planned for, add it to your list and try to find somewhere to cut back on your budget to allow room for it. Keep track of your spending throughout the holidays so that you’re not overwhelmed by the bills piling up after the holidays.
6. Look for no-interest deals. Many big-purchase items offer great deals during this time of year. Look for interest-free financing opportunities if you’re looking for some furniture or a car. This will help you pay for purchases you may not have the money for now, but can pay it off in a few months. But, make sure you read the details of the contract. Some companies offer deferred-interest financing, which means that the interest starts accumulating from day one, but you only pay the interest if you don’t pay off your balance by a certain date. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and have a plan to pay it off before you sign your name on the dotted line.
7. Take a vacation. If you want to create new memories this holiday season, plan a vacation. Resorts and cruise ships are often hurting for business during this time of year. Therefore, you’ll likely get a great deal if you decide to travel for the holidays. If you don’t feel like your family needs any gifts this holiday season, plan a trip and make memories together instead.
8. Start early. Don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to start your Christmas shopping. Look for the perfect gift throughout the year, so that you’re not scrambling to find something you think he might like on Christmas Eve. And, if you’ve crossed off all of the gifts on your list before Thanksgiving, then you’ll have a stress-free month to enjoy the festivities and make memories with loved ones.
9. Know when to stop. This is important – especially for people who start shopping early. Once you’ve checked off everything on your list, stop looking. There are constantly deals throughout this holiday season. However, they’re not always as good as they seem. Don’t let yourself be pulled back into the chaos of coupons and discounts if you’ve already maxed out your budget. Be strong and relax. You’re done.
10. Focus on meaningful gifts. This is the season to show people how much you care. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy the fanciest, most expensive gift out there. It simply means that you should try to find something you think he’d truly appreciate. Sometimes a beautiful poem, handmade cookies, or even a crocheted scarf can mean the world to someone. And, the best gift you could give someone this year is the gift of your time. Spend time with the ones you love this year and build memories together