While this upcoming holiday season will be full of joy, the same does not necessarily go for your wallet. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve, the holiday season can really take a toll on our finances. In fact, a survey taken in 2017 found that those who take on debt accumulate an added $1,003 worth of debt on average. However, the upcoming holiday season does not mean that we are all going to end the year financially damaged. With proper budgeting and good spending habits, debt can be avoided, and you could even save money during the holidays.
Budget, Budget, Budget
Spending money during the holiday season is practically inevitable. The holiday parties, Christmas presents, and all of the food and drinks can really add up on your monthly bill. The American Research Group predicts that the average American shopper will spend $992 on gifts alone this holiday season. However, the reason why so many Americans end up with unexpected debt is that most often they do not set a budget for the season or take into account all of the purchases they are going to make.
If you are creating a holiday budget this year, take everything into consideration. Don’t think about how much you are going to spend on gifts alone; take into account the parties, get-togethers, and any travel expenses you might incur while creating your budget. If you really want to avoid debt or even save money during the holidays, make sure you stick to your budget. A good strategy for remaining in the realms of your budget is to get a prepaid gift/credit card and load up the amount of money you are willing to spend for the holidays. It is easier to know how much money you can spend than to wonder if you can afford a purchase or not.
Tips to Save Some Extra Money this Holiday Season
Take Advantage of Holiday Sales
One of the greatest things about the holiday season is all of the holiday sales many major retailers offer. A lot of the most popular items will go on sale throughout the season, and many stores will offer varying discounts. However, besides Black Friday sales, stores will often keep their sales on the down-low. Therefore, you should make sure to keep track of all the promotional texts and emails you receive and regularly check in to see if any of the more expensive items on your gift list are on sale.
Between all of the holiday sales, the pumpkin spice and peppermint mochas, and all of the festivities, the holiday season can be one of the most tempting times of the year to spend excess money on yourself or others. Before dropping money here and there, remind yourself to remain within the realms of your holiday budget. While it’s true that you should treat yourself every once in a while, the purchases can add up, especially the small purchases.
Consider the Gifts You are Giving
One of the biggest financial mistakes many people make during the holiday season is overspending on gifts. While some people may expect glamorous gifts, many individuals would rather receive something meaningful. That’s not to say that meaningful gifts are not expensive or worth a lot of money. However, many people would prefer a small gift that has sentimental value or a personalized gift made especially by the giver.
Get Cash Back
Websites like Ebates and TopCashback allow their users to earn cash back for the money they spend on holiday sales. The holidays also the perfect time to break out the coupon books and maximize the amount of savings we can get. There are some coupon browser extensions like Honey which will automatically enter the best coupons/promo codes when checking out your online purchases.
Avoid Traveling, Plan Ahead, and Vacation Smart
We’re not going to tell you to not travel during the holiday season. However, we are going to advise you to be financially responsible when considering any vacation or travel plans. If you are going to travel, avoid the airports and take your personal vehicle. It is also financially strategic to plan for your vacations months in advance to receive the best deals on accommodations and airfare. Also, take advantage of staying with friends or family if you are going to travel. Accommodations can be incredibly expensive around Christmas time and can really take a toll on your finances. Therefore, see if your friends or family have any rooms in the house or an extra house (if you’re lucky) they aren’t using and are willing to rent out for a lower price.
While the holiday season is the most joyful time of the year, it can also be one of the most expensive. If you want to avoid debt and save money during the holidays, your best strategy is to create a well thought out budget that you can efficiently follow. While budgeting may be enough for you to avoid debt, there are always strategies you can practice to stretch your holiday savings. No matter how you want to spend this season, make sure to be financially mindful of all of your purchasing decisions. We wish you a fun and safe holiday!