The holidays can be equal parts exhilarating and stressful. It’s easy to spend too much money and feel the full repercussions when you receive your credit card statement in January.
To save money around the holidays, you need to set a plan and stick to it. Here are the best ways to save money during the holiday season.
Set a Budget and Track Your Spending
The best strategy for saving money during the holidays is setting a budget and tracking your spending. It’s not enough to say, “this is my budget.” You also have to check in every day to ensure you’re sticking to it and adjust as needed.
Use an app like Mint to evaluate your spending and receive notifications about overages and upcoming bills. This app is excellent for daily budgeting outside of the holiday season. It even has a Turbotax integration to make tax season that much easier when it rolls around. According to Pretty Sweet, “many taxpayers don’t qualify for the TurboTax Free Edition,” but it can still help streamline your budgeting efforts after the holidays.
Prioritize Experiences Over Things
In the Amazon era, most people can have whatever they want with the click of a button. Rather than adding to the clutter, consider swapping out tangible gifts for experiences.
For example, if you have a big group of friends that exchange gifts, have dinner together instead. Time together is often a far better gift for a group of friends with individual lives and responsibilities. Rather than buying your niece and nephew a new toy, invite them over for a day of holiday baking and let them take home their creations. This approach to the holiday season not only saves money but creates cherished memories.
The earlier you start your shopping, the more manageable it will be. Picking up a gift each paycheck starting in the early fall will allow you to budget and avoid last-minute surprises. You’ll also be able to plan around sales and avoid the holiday hustle and rush.
Starting your shopping too early can be challenging, especially if you have kids who change their minds regularly. If you can’t commit to shopping early, start setting aside money at each paycheck for your holiday expenses. Use an auto-transfer feature to move the money to savings as soon as it hits your account on payday.
Create a List, Check it Twice
The reason Santa makes a list and checks it twice is that it’s the best way to stay on time and on budget. Create a list of everyone you need to buy for and the events you need to attend. You should even create a grocery shopping list for the days surrounding the holidays to avoid the rush.
Create your list as early as possible. This exercise will also help you do some price comparison shopping to help identify if there are any flaws with your budget.
Plan for Events
Gift-giving isn’t the only expense you’ll incur during the holiday season; you also need to account for events. If your partner has a big holiday party at a hotel, you’ll need to plan your evening: are you splurging on a hotel room? Will you pay for an Uber home? What about the other costs associated with holiday parties, such as attire and host gifts?
Account for all of the events that take place over the holidays and determine if there are any you will choose to skip. Don’t feel pressured to go into debt or sacrifice your mental health to go to events. Setting limits– both financially and emotionally– will keep you healthy throughout the holidays.
With these five tips, you’ll be able to manage your spending and avoid going into debt over the holidays. Remember, this should be a time of joy and celebration for all, regardless of financial means.