Once the summer season has ended and fall has officially arrived the focus of most shoppers and consumers swiftly shifts to the approaching holidays. During the holidays it is easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed about not having enough money to spend on travel, friends, and loved ones. With celebrations in every month from October until the end of the year there is hardly time for your bank account or your budget to recover from the unplanned, last minute, impulsive spending that manufacturers bank on. However, you can show how much you care without going into debt! This season, use careful planning and creativity to help you to spread some holiday cheer without the financial fear.
- Enjoy FREE and Inexpensive Holiday Activities: There are countless ways to get into the holiday spirit without forking over a fortune. Check your local community calendar for free holiday activities for families and individuals such as performances, tree lighting, and parades. Spending quality time with loved ones is free. The holiday season is the perfect time to snuggle up with family or friends and watch holiday classics or go caroling. You could even put on a holiday play at your church or local community center and invite neighbors for a potluck. Celebrating with a game night is always fun with snacks and your favorite board games.
- Develop a Budget and Stick To It: Before you spend a single red cent…plan. List everyone you would like to buy gifts for and how much you want to spend on them. Include how much you will need to spend on additional items such as postage, cards, gift-wrap, parties, meals, travel, and parties. Experts recommend not to spend more than 1.5 percent of your household annual income on gifts and entertainment during the holidays. Read more about how to avoid unbudgeted spending to stay on track.
- Get Creative: Handmade gifts and personalized coupons can give your gift giving a sentimental touch in this age of consumerism. By thinking about what your loved one may want or need and incorporating your own talents. Baked treats, knitted scarves and blankets, custom picture frames, music compilations, or even a coupon for help in an area where you are an expert are all great places to start.
- Shop Early: Beat the holiday rush and the need for last minute impulse buying, which often leads to overspending. Begin your holiday shopping early. This gives you time to carefully compare prices and shop the best deals in store and on-line. This is particularly helpful for the more expensive gifts such as a new bike or electronics.
- Gift Exchange: For large families or groups, a gift exchange is a great way to give everyone’s budget a break. This way, each person receives a gift but only has to buy one. To take the savings a step further create a spending cap and limit spending to $10-$20 per person. Add a splash of creativity and fun by agreeing on a theme such as house décor, tropical getaway, spiritual enrichment or even re-gift!
- Shop Online: Online shopping is quick and easy! Comparing prices is often done for you so choosing the items that best fit your budget is simplified. Shopping on-line also allows you to check items off of your list from the comfort of your own home avoiding the extra holiday shopping budget busting temptations like impulse buying and eating out.
These savy holiday savings ideas are sure to keep you on track this season and can serve as best practices for years to come.