The holidays may be celebrated as the most joyous time of the year, but they also frequently rank among the most stressful. The same holds true for your financial resources. This trend continues year after year, with the average American spending over $1,000 on holiday-related purchases in 2021. Do yourself a favor and put some money aside this holiday season, regardless of how much you usually spend. If you don't have to worry about money over the holidays, you can focus on spending time with loved ones.
Is it possible to cut costs and save money this Christmas season? Spending on presents, food, and travel can quickly drain your savings, leaving you with nothing by the time January gets around. Smart holiday shopping and budgeting will help you avoid going into the red during the season of giving.
Here are 10 strategies for trimming your holiday budget and save money:
1. Always use a budget.
You can do the same with your Christmas spending by creating a budget and sticking to it, much like you would with a shopping list. Everything from presents and food to decorations and trips can be factored into your holiday spending plan. If you don't know how much you have to spend in each category, you risk going over your total budget. For the sake of not going into debt over the holidays, it's important to establish a budget and stick to it.
2. Stick to a list when you go grocery shopping.
You should have a strategy in place before you go shopping. Find out who all you need to buy presents for and what each individual will be receiving. Then, promise to stick to this list and this list only. Doing so helps curb unplanned expenditures on last-minute presents. It also stops you from adding more people or more ideas to your list.
Stick to buying presents for immediate family and friends to shorten your list. To avoid breaking the bank, discuss the idea of skipping this year's gift exchange with friends who will understand and support your decision.
Instead of overpaying for one person because of last-minute gift ideas, carefully consider what to get everyone on your list in advance. Having a concrete plan prevents you from spending money haphazardly and discourages you from buying random gifts for coworkers and distant friends. If you go in with a specific idea of what you need, you can bypass the aisles and check out quickly.
3. Host a Holiday Potluck
Hosting and cooking for a large family can put a financial strain on you, similar to the cost of buying presents for everyone. The total cost can quickly balloon if you're responsible for buying everything from meals to paper plates. Furthermore, you will have to spend a considerable amount of time cooking. Organizing a Christmas potluck is a simple solution to this problem.
At potlucks, the host is relieved of some of their duties because everyone brings a dish to share. To avoid spending a fortune on food for a large group of people, a potluck is a great idea for whoever is hosting the holiday feast.
4. Share greetings via electronic cards.
For many households, sending out holiday cards is a cherished annual ritual. How much your family has grown or changed over the past year might be demonstrated by sending a photo and a brief Christmas message to far-flung friends and relatives. Spending money on holiday photo shoots, printing hundreds of cards and envelopes, and paying postage can add up quickly. Even if you're not ready to give up sending holiday cards, there are more economical options for getting your greetings to your loved ones.
Sending holiday cards digitally might be a convenient method to avoid spending money on paper and postage in today's mainly digital environment. Digital greeting cards can be personalized with photographs, text, and designs on a wide variety of websites for little to no cost. To send the e-card to your loved ones, you can either save it as a PDF and send it along in a message or provide them with a link to it. With electronic greeting cards, you can send holiday greetings to many more people at a much lower cost.
Additionally, you can make e-cards using apps on your phone, whether you're at home or somewhere else. Using electronic cards instead of paper ones is an easy way to save money during the holidays.
5. Make a Secret Santa gift list
Gifts for a large family or group of friends might be expensive. Encourage a Secret Santa gift exchange to save money on expensive presents for everyone on your list. In Secret Santa, everyone in the group anonymously chooses a name and then only needs to buy a present for that person. Each person's "secret Santa" will be unmasked at the gift exchange.
Each participant in a Secret Santa exchange typically has a certain budget to adhere to, ensuring that the total amount spent is comparable. This kind of gift exchange might be a great way to cut costs throughout the holiday season. Each member of the group is only responsible for one member of the extended family, so there is no need to buy gifts for everyone. Secret Santa can help relieve financial stress and restore the joy of gift-giving.
6. Gifts made from scratch are the best.
Use your talents to make someone a one-of-a-kind, handcrafted present this holiday season. Handmade presents are special and thoughtful, and the recipient will remember them for a long time. Think about making your presents this year if you have artistic skills or love doing projects on your own. Put your crafting skills to use by creating handmade presents such as ornaments, decorations, jewelry, flower pots, vases, photo frames, scarves, blankets, wreaths, and more. Making and receiving such presents is a lot of fun and is sure to be remembered.
Baked products are another option for those looking to send homemade presents. The next time you bake sweets for the family, make a few extra servings to share with friends and loved ones. Baked foods, such as pies, cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, and bread, are delicious and inexpensive presents. Make the people you care about the most happy by baking them their favorite goodies and giving them to them this holiday season.
7. Take advantage of the seasonal sales.
There are various days during the holiday season when retailers provide sales, discounts, and doorbusters. These are excellent opportunities to shop and get the best gifts at reduced prices. Do your holiday shopping on these days:
Amazon Prime Day: Although Prime Day often occurs in the summer, it might be a fantastic time to get a jump on holiday shopping by finding great prices on presents for loved ones.
The Amazon Prime Day sale lasts for 24 hours and features deep discounts on a wide variety of items. Keep your eyes peeled all day for the best new discounts to be offered.
Black Friday is the name given to the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday marks the beginning of holiday shopping for many individuals. Many stores are open late and have enough deals to last you all day. Thousands upon thousands of customers go to retailers in search of the best deals. Be on the lookout, as some businesses will begin their Black Friday sales in the days leading up to the holiday.
Happy shopping on Cyber Monday! The Monday after Thanksgiving is known as "Cyber Monday," and it's another chance to shop for Black Friday deals online. Today is your chance to shop online for holiday gifts without fighting the crowds. During the 24 hours of Cyber Monday, online merchants offer enticing discounts.
On December 14, many stores provide free shipping to celebrate Free Shipping Day. There is no minimum purchase requirement for free shipping and other discounts on this day. Finding those last-minute presents is made easier by the fact that many retailers provide guaranteed delivery before Christmas.
8. Use cash or a prepaid card for payment.
Paying with cash or a prepaid card can help you stick to a budget if you're trying to cut back on your spending. The first step in budgeting is to physically withdraw the cash equivalent of the amount you intend to spend. Put this money toward the cost of gifts while you shop. As soon as you're out, you can stop buying more. By using this technique, you can avoid going over your financial limit by making do with what you already have.
If you prefer not to carry cash or if you intend to do most of your shopping online, you can use a prepaid card instead. The benefit of utilizing a prepaid card is that you can limit your spending to the amount you've loaded onto it. This can serve as a useful tool for keeping tabs on and controlling holiday spending. Prepaid cards are sold alongside gift cards at most supermarkets and convenience stores.
9. Start your shopping season early.
The greatest strategy to conquer holiday shopping is to get a head start. There are advantages to pre-planning your shopping trips. You may avoid the hassle of holiday crowds and not fear that your presents won't arrive in time or that the items you need will be sold out. Avoiding the rush of last-minute shopping will help you save money and prevent the stress of scrambling to find everything you need.
Spend some time shopping for less expensive items. Another downside to procrastinating is that, in a frenzy to get the perfect present, you can end up paying more than you would have liked. If you begin your search for holiday gifts in plenty of time, you will be able to discover everything on your list at deeply discounted prices. Standard shipping costs much less than expedited shipping options like overnight or one or two day delivery, so you can save money by doing most of your shopping online.
10. Look into the offers
The fact that something appears to be inexpensive does not necessarily make it so. Before going shopping, it's a good idea to look up the MSRP of the item you're after so you know if you're getting a good deal. Always check the original price of the item against the sale price to ensure you're getting a good deal, as some sales are advertised to look better than they actually are. If the price is too high or the quality is too low, you can keep looking for a better bargain.
On Black Friday, for instance, there are so many enticing discounts that it's easy to fall for a scam. Make sure you have your phone nearby so you can quickly compare prices at competing stores.
Even though the holiday season can be expensive, there are still methods to cut costs. Plan ahead and budget carefully for holiday gatherings and purchases of loved ones' gifts. After all the celebrations are over, you'll be able to relax and put some money away for the new year.