It’s easy to overspend around the holidays. I know that when I’m armed with wishlists from kids and family members, I have a hard time avoiding the shopping frenzy that seems to take place every time I leave the house. After all, those sales are tempting and who doesn’t need that third coffee pot at such a steal of a deal? The good news: you don’t have to spend the first part of the new year catching up on all your bills. Instead, check out these tips to avoid overspending around the holidays!
Plan Your Budget Wisely
I say it over and again: if you have a plan that you can stick to throughout the holiday shopping season, it will make it easier for you to avoid overspending when you see things here and there. Take the time to plan (down to the dollar) the amount you are going to spend on each gift and event and then STICK TO IT. When you want to add something to that list, consult your budget to determine if there’s wiggle room.
Check out my Holiday Budget Template to keep you on track this holiday season.
Question “Sale” Items
Sales are meant to be tempting. Even if the price isn’t “too good to be true” a small fluctuation combined with strategic advertising is designed to draw you in and make you spend more money. This why it’s important to make sure you know that you’re really getting a deal on the items you purchase. If you normally go all out on Black Friday, make sure what you are purchasing is actually a better price. Check the ads, compare to the “regular price” and decide if your purchase is actually a good deal.
When you go shopping on popular days like Black Friday or even Cyber Monday, you may be tempted to spend more money thinking that you’re getting a once in a lifetime deal. In reality, you’ll likely be able to find the items for the same or similar prices throughout the holiday season!
Look at Secondhand
There’s a good chance that your loved ones will be pretty upset if you purchase secondhand sweaters or a ratty t-shirt from Goodwill for them for Christmas but cashing in on secondhand deals can be a fun and easy way to save money at the holidays. Things like popular electronics, bikes, and other items for kids can often be found in like-new condition from yard sales or secondhand stores. Even though it may seem tacky to secondhand shop for your littles or your loved ones, don’t discount the great deals you can get on items that would have cost much more brand new.
Look for items that are lightly used or unopened items. One year I was able to purchase my daughter a full outfit with tags still on from our local thrift store. It turned out to be her favorite gift of the year and significantly less than I would have on a brand new one.
Gift exchanges with family members and even at work can be an expense that you just don’t need. While there’s usually a cap of $20 or so on gifts, the expense of doing this for several social circles quickly can add up. If possible, opt out. If not, consider talking to your group about doing something a little different. Cookie exchanges are a great alternative, cost far less, and everyone gets to go home with a variety of tasty treats! Plus, who even uses those gag gifts you give during the office Secret Santa exchange?
The less time you have to go shopping during the holiday season, the more money you’ll have. If you’re spending your Saturdays helping out at the soup kitchen instead of hitting the mall, you’ll be far less likely to overspend. The experience of giving your time during the holidays is a very humbling one and can put things into perspective. After spending hours around people who are grateful just for a clean pair of socks, you may be less likely to get into a brawl over a 50-inch TV priced $100 below normal.
Snooze Promotional Emails
Remember when we talked about advertisements designed to draw you in so that you spend your hard-earned money? I don’t know about you, but in the months and weeks leading up to the holidays, the number of promotional emails I receive increases exponentially. If those emails are likely to prey on your emotions and make you want to spend, then it’s time to snooze those emails from your favorite brands until the holidays are over. Bonus: if you unsubscribe completely you’ll be able to start the new year with a clean inbox.
How Will You Save?
Between seemingly amazing sales and the need to make your loved ones feel appreciated during the holidays, it’s easy to go over budget. If you’ve overspent in the past, put a stop to it now. Let this year be the year that you don’t blow your budget and you’ll actually be able to enjoy the start of the new year!
What strategies will you use to keep from overspending this holiday season? Leave a comment below and let us know!