I’m going to say something completely obvious: the holiday season is expensive! A lot of people have trouble saving money and even more trouble being mindful of their spending during this time. It’s overwhelming because the entire gift-giving process is complicated. What should you buy? Who should you buy for? How much should you spend? We have some tips to make the process an little easier.
1. Set a budget.
The first and most important step to save money this holiday season is to set a reasonable and honest budget. Write a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for and figure out how much you can spend without going broke. It’s important to have a number in mind so you can plan shopping.
2. Buy group gifts.
Instead of buying individual gifts buy one gift per family/couple. Even if you’re buying for children you can combine gifts. Some examples of great group gifts are: gift cards for a restaurant or movie theatre, gift a subscription service like 3 months of Disney Plus, family games or activities.
3. Stick to your list.
It can be really tempting, especially with all of the sales during the holiday season, to buy more than you need but stick to your list. Don’t be tempted by sales to buy things for yourself that you don’t really need just because the sale seems too good to be true.
4. Get creative.
It may seem a bit cheesy but handmade or homemade gifts are not as bad as they sound. You can bake cookies for co-workers. Or you could also make a “cookie-mix in a jar” like the picture above by combining all of the dry ingredients necessary to make cookies in a decorative mason jar, just don’t forget to add an instruction card. Another great DIY is creating a picture collage for someone on your list. The possibilities are endless. You can get so many ideas on Pinterest or at your local craft store.
5. Stop trying to out-do or impress people.
If you feel pressured to spend more than you can, remember that the holidays are not about how expensive gifts are. Try to remain genuine and remember it’s the thought that counts. Be honest about what you can afford. Don’t go broke trying to prove how much you care about someone. You can still give thoughtful gifts to those on your list while on a budget like a mug inspired by their favorite show, a poster from their favorite movie, or a basket filled with their favorite snacks.
6. Use cash.
Once you set your budget, gather your cash and put it in an envelope. Use that money and only that money when you’re shopping. If you’re shopping online you could use a gift card pre-loaded with the exact dollar amount of your budget. Make sure you plan your shopping trip before you start so that it’s easier to stay on track.
7. Recycle gift wrap.
Get creative about wrapping your gifts. Reuse gift bags, use newspapers/magazines to wrap gifts, or send gifts directly to family members and friends if your purchase qualifies for free shipping. Although it may be tempting to go over-the-top with bows and fancy wrapping paper, remember it only lasts a little while and gets thrown away anyway. Also, it’s very wasteful.
7. Cut back on your spending temporarily.
Pull back on your spending by opting out of buying that expensive cup of coffee every morning, cut back on eating out, or pause subscriptions until the holidays are over.
8. Follow the rewards.
Shop at stores or with online retailers that offer rewards. You could also buy gift cards in bundles at a discount by visiting wholesale retail stores like Costco. Sometimes doing all your shopping at one store saves you more money because of the discounts they offer. This is why it’s so important to do research before you shop and plan what you will buy, where you will shop, and how much you will spend.
What other tips would you add to the list?