First of all, try to remember to enjoy the holiday season. It only comes around once a year, so you should attempt to enjoy yourself and your family time as much as possible. Stressing about money is not the best way to enjoy the holiday season. That being said, let’s save you some money.
Cut Back On Personal Luxuries
Do you enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee every day or like to go out to lunch with friends from work? Now might be the time to cut back on these expenses so that you can devote more money to holiday spending, which is inevitable.
This is not to say that you should never treat yourself, but that you should simply cut back, at least for now. Instead of buying that cup of overprices gourmet coffee, invest in a good coffee maker and thermos. You will save money and might discover that you can brew a cup of coffee better at home.
Going out to lunch every day? Start bringing your lunch every other day. Your waistline will probably appreciate it and you might find yourself more productive with the extra free time you get from not having to travel to eat.
These are little sacrifices, but they can make a big difference in helping you get through the holidays financially healthy. Plus, you might find out that you buy things that you really don’t need and can continue saving the rest of the year.
Set A Budget & Shop With Cash
There are all sorts of things that you will need for the holidays. Decorations and candy, the preparations for many big meals and, of course, gifts. The last thing that you want to do is to go shopping for all of these things without a budget. Sit down and figure out how much you can comfortably afford and stick to it by paying in cash.
When you shop with cash, you only have the amount you withdraw to spend. There is no open ended AMEX card or direct link to your checking account. This makes it much easier to stick with a budget, so before you go shopping, withdraw just what you have budgeted. When the money is gone, it is gone, so it will force you to spend carefully.
Start Shopping Early
Don’t wait until all of the deals are gone to start your shopping. This is particularly important with Christmas gifts, but it applies to the entire holiday season.
Make a list of everything that you need and buy it when it is on sale.
For Halloween, check the thrift shops early for costumes and decorations. Once the season is upon you, everything will disappear fast, so time is of the essence.
As far as thanksgiving goes, start buying non perishable foods early when you see sales. Canned goods and items that freeze well are good targets. If you plan to serve a turkey, the best sales are generally at the beginning of the season and they obviously freeze well so there is no reason to wait.
With Christmas, think Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the absolute best times to buy gifts.
Make Your Gifts
Who says that you have to buy gifts for friends and family. Sometimes it is the simple homemade gifts that mean the most. Sounds crazy, but it is true. Think about all of the gifts you have received from friends over the years and the ones that stand out the most will probably be the ones that they took the time to make.
Not crafty or don’t know how to bake? You can still make your own gifts by repackaging. A box of gourmet cookies and some cellophane and you have endless possibilities. This trick alone can save you 300 dollars or even more over the holidays.
Celebrate At Home
When it comes time to connect with friends and family over the holiday, do it at home. Restaurants can get expensive in a hurry, especially if your friend and family list is extensive. Plus, dealing with the crowds, bad service and questionable food can put a real damper on celebrations.
The solution is the tried and true pot luck dinner. Have everyone bring their favorite side dish and you provide the entree. It makes entertaining at home even more affordable and enjoyable because you will probably get to enjoy foods that you rarely experience.