Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of the happiest days of the year.
Gifts from the heart, travel to see loved ones, yummy meals and lots of laughs with friends and family…all bring out the holiday spirit. Even with the holiday cheer, the holidays can be the most expensive time of the year. Holiday finances can get out of control and you can bust a whole year’s progress on budgeting in just a couple of months.
Here are 6 tips to take control of your holiday finances.
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1. Budget, Budget, Budget
Just because it’s the holiday season, full of joy and mirth, doesn’t mean you should blow out your budget. Let me rephrase that… you shouldn’t blow out your budget without a plan. Don’t let holiday finances get the best of you.
Take some time to create your November and December budgets now! Concentrate on expensive categories such as gifts, travel and food. With these budgets in mind, figure out where you can decrease other expenses during November and December and also where you can cut expenses in the future.
Next year, use that same budget as a starting point. If you spent $500 on gifts this year, divide that same amount by 12 and save around $40 per month so you aren’t cash-strapped during the holiday season.
Holidays are expensive but if you decide how and where you spend your money now, the holidays can be just that much more manageable.
Learn how to perfect your budget here!
2. Buy Holiday Gifts at a Discount
What’s that saying? You should never buy anything for full price. This is particularly true during the holidays. I never pay full price for anything I buy online with Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is one of the best rewards and loyalty programs out there! Swagbucks allows you to earn cash back from every online purchase you make. It also gives you instant access to coupons and discount codes to millions of online stores. Earning cashback on every item you buy during the holiday can definitely help you keep your holiday finances under control.
3. Be Patient and Save on Holiday Decorations
Every year, the holidays seem to come a little bit sooner. But, don’t just rush out and buy all of your holiday decorations all at once. Waiting to buy holiday decorations until after the holidays will save you anywhere between 50% and 90% of the purchase price. It may seem counter-intuitive to wait until after the holiday season to buy all of your decorations but I’m telling you, the wait will be well worth the prize!
My husband and I have a habit of doing just this. It all started the when we moved into our first apartment. I woke up super early on Christmas morning to get a head start on Christmas lunch. While cooking, I noticed our apartment looked drab and dreary. It didn’t exude that Christmas spirit I was used to growing up so I snuck out to buy a Christmas tree at the Walgreen’s around the corner. Yes, I got some puzzled looks about buying a Christmas tree the morning of Christmas but I also bought a $70 tree for $30, almost a 60% discount!
Each year, my husband and I now have the tradition of making a list of any holiday items we need. And heading out to the stores a couple days after Christmas to purchase them for a major discount!
4. Never Pay Full Price for your Holiday Meal
Many times, we can blow a whole month’s budget on a holiday meal. Holiday finances can get out of control rather quickly. Turkey, dressing, mac n’ cheese, greens, sweet potato pie, and the list goes on. We probably buy close to 100 ingredients in a single shopping trip. Couple coupons with the in-store ads to double your savings!
Love saving money? Here are 13 tips to save money on groceries
5. Start Shopping Online NOW!
Throughout the year, I Christmas shop but I wait to buy. I go to my favorite online stores, search for the perfect presents and add those items to my shopping cart. If you are signed into these websites these stores will send you reminder emails about the item in your shopping cart, many times with offers and discounts to entice you to buy the item.
This works exceptionally well with Amazon because the items that are sold are relatively consistent. Many vendors sell the same product throughout the year so you can keep watch for price drops on your favorite things. After you add your items to your shopping cart, Amazon will send you email notices when prices are lowered. That way, you never miss a discount or a sale and always pay the lowest price. Try it now!
6. Skip the Hotels
During the holidays, millions of people travel to see loved ones or embark on adventures. What does this mean for you? Hotel prices can reach an all-time high and it can get expensive to travel. Luckily enough for you, when people travel, they rent out their houses on Airbnb to make more money. That means you can find affordable accommodations to ensure that you have an enjoyable trip.
Think about using Airbnb to find accommodations for the holiday or even renting out your own place to make some extra holiday money!
Get $40 off your first adventure with Airbnb!
What are some other ways you take control of your holiday finances?
Feel free to share!