Saving Big Bucks During the Holiday Season

The holidays are magical. The lights, the snow, the cooking, the carolers—it all comes together to make a perfect scene. But there’s another side to this time of year: the spending. Parents spend on average over $400 on each of their children, just for presents!

That’s a lot of money—especially considering many people will use debt to finance these purchases. It doesn’t have to be this way. These are some ideas for saving big bugs during the holiday season.

Set a Holiday Budget

Most people want to think about fun things during the holiday season—baking cookies, or spending time with family. Not many of us want to be obsessing over a budget. However, your life will be much easier (and less stressful after the holidays) if you do this. There are a few things to consider when putting together your holiday budget:

  • Determine all of your potential holiday expenses. This will probably include presents and food. But also think about travel costs, charitable donations, alcohol, or other factors.
  • Figure out how much total money you can spend, and then break that down into individual categories.
  • Keep track of your costs as you spend money. Your budget’s worthless if you don’t know where you stand in relation to it.

Don’t Spend Too Much on Food and Incidentals While Out Shopping

Shopping during the holidays can be a draining process. We tend to spend money in order to compensate for feeling like we don’t have time. This might seem natural after a long day at the mall. But try not to fall to the temptation of buying food and coffee while you’re out. It’s much more expensive to do it this way. You’ll save a lot of money if you feed yourself and your family at home.

Try to Use Cash over Credit Cards

There’s no denying that credit cards are much more convenient than cash. You don’t need to go to the ATM, or carry around large sums when you stick with the plastic. On the other hand, credit cards can be dangerous to shoppers during the holiday season. When you keep putting things on the card, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of your expenses.

By sticking with cash at the mall, you’ll know exactly at what point you’ve hit your predetermined spending maximum.

Sell Things You Don’t Need

We often solely associate the holiday season with getting more things. But what if we spent some time getting rid of possessions as well? This is one suggestion by financial expert Andrew Housser—CEO of Freedom Debt Relief. He asserts that one of the best ways to save money over the holidays is to sell things you don’t need. Not only will this free up space in your home, it’ll give you some extra money to spend on items you and your family actually want.

Limit Gift Giving with Adults

Many people feel obligated to give gifts. This often ends up not being the best thing. In fact, about $10 billion is spent in the U.S. every year on unwanted gifts just during the holidays. Don’t waste your money getting presents when you’re only doing it as a gesture. Try bringing this subject up with your friends and relatives. You might be surprised that many of them will be on the same page.

Be Careful with Big Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are massive shopping days across the country. Everywhere, people are scrambling to get the best possible deals. But it’s important to not get sucked into spending unnecessary money here. Stores will put tons of stuff on sale because they know people will buy it just for that reason. Make sure you’re only making purchases that actually make sense for your shopping list—and your budget. Otherwise, you’ll end up throwing away tons of dough on products you only bought because they were on sale.

Start Less Expensive Traditions

There’s nothing wrong with getting nice presents for the people who are important to you. But also think about other, less expensive ways you can spend the holidays together. You might all get more fulfillment from donating your time to charity, watching holiday movies together—or even going to the sledding hill. There are countless ways to enjoy the holiday season without blowing up your bank account.

Everyone likes to save money. However, the holiday season is a time when the rules seem to go out the window for many people. Consider these tips for conserving your cash this year.

photo credit: ClaraDon Santa Getting Ready for the Big Day via photopin (license)

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