With all of the gifts, decorations and parties associated with the holiday season, it is far too easy to overspend.
You don’t have to be a scrooge to keep your budget in the black. Avoid starting the New Year with a pile of debt by following these six cash-saving tips.
1. Plan ahead for parties and gift-giving.
When you wait until the last minute to run out and buy a gift or purchase the supplies to make a holiday meal, you end up paying top dollar simply because you do not have time to shop around for the best deals. Steer clear of overspending by planning ahead. Write down the dates or holiday parties on your calendar, and shop for these events several days before they happen. Schedule some shopping time into your busy schedule, if necessary.
2. Pay for everything in cash.
If you only allow yourself to pay for holiday gifts and supplies in cash, it is much harder to overspend. Budget what you can afford for holiday shopping, and take that amount of cash out of the bank. You can even divide it into envelopes for specific gifts and expenses. When you run out of cash, you have to stop shopping. This prevents you from amassing high-interest credit card debt that might take you all year to pay off.
3. Make a list, and stick to it.
How many times have you headed to the store to buy one or two items, but then walked out with a whole cart full of things? Making a list ahead of time, and actually sticking to only buying what is on that list, goes a long way towards reducing accidental, last-minute spending.
4. Keep an eye out for discount coupons.
Check in your mailbox and in your local paper for coupons that give you discounts at local retailers. You might be able to get 10, 20 or 30 percent off that new chair you want to buy for your loved one. Discount coupons for holiday decorations, lights and gift wrap are also common, too. Designate a special envelope for holiday coupons, and stash them away as you find them. Take this envelope with you whenever you go holiday shopping so that you don’t risk forgetting your coupons.
5. Focus on quality, not quantity when it comes to gifts.
Most people appreciate a gift that has special meaning more than one that costs a lot of money. Reduce your spending by reducing the amount of money that you spend on each person on your gift list. Instead, spend a little extra time looking for an inexpensive gift that has specific sentimental value to the recipient. If you are crafty, making homemade gifts is a great idea.
6. Shop alone.
When you shop with children, or even with your friends, it is easy to get pressured into spending more than you originally planned to spend. Peer pressure can cause you to “show off” by spending more on presents. Kids have the habit of adding items that they see in stores to their gift wish lists, and you then feel pressured to purchase them. Have your spouse or a friend watch your kids while you go shopping. Even if you have to pay the sitter, you are likely to come out ahead.
The holiday season is a time when stores are busy and spending is high. However, with a little planning ahead and a few precautions, you do not have to break the bank to enjoy yourself. Focus on the other aspects of the holidays — the love of family, having time to relax, and the beauty of lights around your neighborhood — and follow the tips above to keep more cash in your wallet