Save Money this Holiday Season!


woman shopping‘Tis the season to start trimming – your budget, that is, and not just your tree. Before you hit the mall or organize a big party, it can help to have a comprehensive plan in place so you know exactly where your money is going this holiday season – that way, you can ring in the New Year with celebration rather than panic. Here are several ways to keep your spending under control this season.

  1. Make a Budget

There are a couple different ways to set a holiday budget. You might want to establish a general spending cap, or try allocating a specific amount to each person on your gift list. Be aware, though, that while making a holiday budget is great, it can go sour in one of two ways:

  • Setting a Budget That’s Too Tight. While setting a tight budget always starts with good intentions, an unrealistic one can do more harm than good. Without a little wiggle room for last-minute purchases or enough cash allocated for your mom’s gift, you can end up very frustrated.
  • Forgetting the Little Things. Don’t forget the other costs you incur throughout the season. Parties, travel expenses, charitable donations and holiday-themed activities can all add up to destroy a budget.
  1. Track Your Spending

Your budget does no good if you don’t effectively track your spending. Try keeping separate holiday funds in an additional account. This makes it easier to separate holiday spending from regular, day-to-day expenses. Also check your account through an app on your phone, so you can check your balance and track spending anytime, anywhere – even in line for the cashier. Spreadsheets are also an excellent and accurate way to track your holiday expenditures.

  1. Cut Back on Extras

Getting lattes piled sky-high with whipped cream, splurging on a pair of shoes for yourself, paying for a photo with Santa – we’re all guilty of indulging a little more than we should simply because it’s the holiday season. Cutting back on those extras can have a big impact on your bottom line. Before you splurge on a little treat or “extra” for yourself, be sure it’s really worth the price.

  1. Use the “Secret Santa” Method

Instead of buying presents for your various family members, you could choose to purchase gifts for the anonymous beneficiaries.  Not only does a Secret Santa experience help relieve some of the stress and financial burden of exchanging gifts with every member of your family, it gives you a chance to talk about the importance of service and giving during the holidays.

Funneling what you would have spent on family gifts to those in need is a great way to give back, have a charitable experience with your loved ones, and relieve holiday stress.

  1. Choose Cheaper Traditions

Traditions are what make the holidays so special, but they can be a financial burden. If your traditions include holiday travel, paying for a special attraction, or surprising your kids with extravagant gifts, you might find yourself going significantly over budget in the name of family.

While traditions are important and admirable, they don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In fact, you might find that your kids prefer the cheap stuff to the grander gestures. So many activities and traditions are inexpensive, or even free – you just have to know where to look. By making cheaper events and traditions part of your celebration, you can save money without skimping on the festivities and memories.

  1. Embrace Potluck

If you’re hosting an event, embrace the idea of potluck assignments. Let everyone know you’re going to make the main dish, but that you’d appreciate help on sides, appetizers, desserts, and drinks. Simply send out an email a few weeks in advance letting everyone know what their assignments are to ensure you don’t end up with five vegetable trays and no dessert.

You could also assign games and activities to some of your younger family members. They kids enjoy being involved, and you don’t have to stress about keeping guests entertained.

  1. Take Care Around Sales

Holiday sales can be an epic opportunity to save money – but be careful. Not all deals are created equal, and some may not even be truly discounted, as some stores keep prices the same but simply mark items with a “sale” sign.

Always comparison shop before you purchase an item during a sale. Of course, you never save money by spending, no matter how significant the discount. Sales are great, but they don’t mean much if the money isn’t in your budget. If necessary, bring a printout of your budget so you can check your spending in real-time and avoid being swayed by a great deal.

  1. Know When to Stop

When your list is finished and you’ve checked it twice, it’s time to stop shopping. Know when you’re finished, and avoid stopping by the mall “just to see what they have” – this can lead to making poorly planned purchases and blowing your budget. By planning purchases and stopping when you’re done, you can be spared that holiday hangover come January.

  1. Get a Head Start

The period right after the holidays is the perfect time to check over your budget and make plans for the new year. How did you do? Did you stay within budget? Were there places you could have cut back?

This is also the time to start a credit card payoff strategy if you used plastic to finance your festivities. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have put anything on your credit card that you couldn’t pay off  in a month, but if you went overboard, commit to a payment plan that reduces your balances within the next three or four months.

If you’re really savvy and have the storage, the days following Christmas are also ideal for getting a jump-start on purchasing decor and wrapping goods for next year. Of course, that’s only if you’ve budgeted accordingly.

If you’ve got a plan in place and know how to stretch each holiday dollar, you don’t have to fear your bank account statement on December 26th. Cheaper entertainment, a focus on family, and a sensible spending plan put you firmly in the driver’s seat of your own sleigh.

Information courtesy of moneycrashers.com


Learn more about saving for the holidays and the benefits of our Holiday Club by clicking here.

Easily track your spending as you go by signing up for Members 1st Online. Visit members1st.org for more details.

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