Slammed with advertisements, wants from kids, and general holiday cheer puts the pressure on to spend more, more, more every year. While most people do have to spend money at the holidays, there are many simple ways to save money this holiday season. From travel to expensive gifts, and everything in between, start now to make sure you aren’t struggling to catch up once the new year hits.
Set Your Budget in Concrete
A solid budget is essential for holiday success. By October, you should be clear about how much you have to spend. If you plan on hitting the Black Friday sales, you can start planning on what you need to buy during that chaotic day and what isn’t likely to go on sale. Even if you haven’t quite saved up enough to meet your planned spend amount, you can set the amount and continue putting money into it until it’s time to start shopping.
Instead of just telling yourself you’re only going to spend $1,000 on Christmas gifts, make a concrete plan of how you’re going to spend that money. First, divide it up by each person you have to buy for based on the size of gift, expectations and other factors, then divide it up by individual gifts or ideas for each person. Similar to managing a monthly budget, setting the intention for your holiday shopping can help make sticking to it easier.
Use this Holiday Budget Worksheet to help you stay on track this season! (Consider it your gift to yourself!)
Consider a Gift “Formula”
When you have kids, it’s important to make sure you give them a happy holiday. Whether that means getting them the gift they’re dying for or just giving them a happy holiday surrounded by love differs from family to family. If overspending hits you in the kid department every Christmas, having a formula for gifts is a great way to save money. A quick Pinterest search will likely show you this formula:
- Something they wear – an outfit
- Something they read – a really great book or a book series
- Something they want – this could be anything
- Something they need – this is pretty subjective, too. Consider things like underwear and socks or notebooks for school
By sticking to a formula, you can prevent yourself from overbuying no matter how tempting it is to pick up just one more gift for your kiddos.
Get Real About Travel
So, you promised your grandma in Kentucky you’d be back for Christmas this year. But you just checked ticket prices- they’re reaching the thousands and you’re not even close to the holiday. Plus, traveling with kids can be extremely stressful and make the holidays a bust. Instead of spending thousands to tote the whole family across the country, make a plan to get together when traveling is a little less expensive. It can be disappointing to have to spend the holidays away from family, but your wallet will certainly be grateful for your choice!
Skip the Christmas Cards
Perhaps one of the most simple ways to save money this holiday season is something that you’ve likely forgotten about anyway:
Christmas cards, of course!
If you’re a holiday or Christmas card sender, it’s okay to say no if it’s just not in the budget. The idea behind the cards is to provide cheer for all the parties involved, but if they’re stressin’ you out, just let them go.
You might also opt for ecards! Your friends and family probably check their inbox often and they’ll be delighted to see a cute card from you among the neverending march of incoming work emails.
(Personally, I love Christmas cards, so if you want to throw one in the mail my direction – I’ll be excited to receive it!)
Be Wise With Credit
While cash is typically the way to go for the holidays, there may be some instances where you should use your credit card. Many credit cards have rewards offers targeted specifically toward Christmas spenders.
This does not mean go out and rack up thousands in debt over the holidays.
Instead, use your credit card the right way – taking advantage of rewards programs and paying it off as soon as you’ve charged items to it. This way, you get the points and your credit doesn’t take a hit. Make sure you know your cash budget before you start using your cards and always stick to it while you’re Christmas shopping.
Bonus: Start a Holiday Savings Account for Next Year
Starting a holiday savings account won’t help you with Christmas shopping this year, but it can put some more cash in your pocket for next year. If you get into a good program through your bank or employer, you may even be able to earn some money in interest over the course of the year. This is like free money that you can then put toward extra Christmas gifts for your loved ones or maybe even a special treat for yourself!
My favorite way to do this is by using Acorns. In fact, I was able to save several hundred dollars this year, just allowing them to round up my purchases to the nearest dollar! That’s a significant amount of money that I didn’t even notice missing from my monthly budget and it’s going to make the holiday season special, without having to worry about where the funds will come from!
How will you embrace the holidays and save money this holiday season? Leave a comment below so we can encourage each other!