Without careful consideration and mindfulness, the holiday season can leave you feeling overextended financially–and what fun are the holidays if you’re stressed out about money and broke by the time the new year begins? So to help you enjoy the season and stay financially wise with your spending throughout it all, here are some ways to spend less during this time of year.
Only spend money on what's important.
One of the easiest ways to not go broke during the holidays is to only spend money on what matters. If you decide that sending Christmas cards isn't part of your holiday game plan, you just saved money on paying a photographer, printing the cards, and buying a million stamps. Maybe it's buying a Christmas tree every year? Spend that money on an artificial one you can use every year, or presents. Sure trees are traditional but you and your family can make new traditions and have your holidays look however you want it to look!
Know what you have.
Holiday stuff gets tucked away in closets and in our minds. We forget what we have and buy more of what we don't need. I can't tell you how many ornaments and lights I've bought over the years for no reason. Before using what I already have, I'm not saving anything, space included. Try and anticipate what activities are coming your way and check your supplies to see if you have what you need already. Sure it might be tedious, but one way to make it easier is to take inventory of everything you have and leave it with your stuff as your put them in storage.
Host a potluck.
Groceries are not cheap guys! Cooking for the whole family can easily run you in several hundred dollars and you're left with a filthy kitchen to clean. Dining out is usually one of most people’s biggest expenses, especially around the holidays. Everyone wants to get together for some sort of holiday dinner celebration, but when you dine out, you end up paying for your meal, a drink, tax and tip, and that can really add up! Instead, take the initiative and plan holiday potlucks for your family and friends. You can choose a theme and have everyone bring a homemade dish. This is a great alternative, as not only does it help everyone save money, it’s also a great way to enjoy each other’s company in a comfortable, intimate setting. And best of all, everyone takes their dish with them at the end, so all you have to clean is the dinnerware. Save even more on cleanup by encouraging your guests to take leftovers.
Use your credit card reward points to pay for airfare.
One of the best ways to save money on travel is to ensure you’re using your credit card rewards or frequent traveler programs when booking your holiday airfare. Seems basic enough, but so many people never use their credit card points—which means they’re leaving money on the table! You can also use websites like www.kayak.com and www.airfarewatchdog.com to track the best times to buy airfare, and sites like www.airbnb.com to find alternative places to stay in your holiday destination city.
Buy gifts on Living Social/Groupon
There are so many great gift ideas on websites like Living Social and Groupon. For example, you can get your girlfriends a spa package, facial, hair blowout, a wine tasting experience and so much more. All you need to do is buy it as a gift and voila, you will have a gift that will be unique and probably save a lot of money as well.
Shop Coupon Sites
Shop sites like Chippmunk which ranks online coupons and deals in over 25 popular shopping categories so you can see exactly how much you’ll save at each store. With 30 extra seconds, you can find a coupon that will allow you to add one more cute item to your cart for the same amount. Chippmunk has partnerships with over 600 leading retailers, many of whom offer exclusive coupons, and unlike other coupon sites, every coupon is verified to work. Their coupon codes take you directly to the store in which you wish to shop and Chippmunk will show you offers from competing retailers on the side, so you’re able to make a truly informed purchase decision.
Plan ahead for next year.
Set up a holiday savings account and begin contributing to it every month so that when the holidays roll around next year, you already have money in the bank to cover expenses. You can start with something as small as $20 a month and then add to it every few months after you review your budget and financial goals for the year. Saving for specific goals, such as the holidays, is so much easier when you can have a clear vision in mind for what you’re saving for, and when you automate your savings for the goal. As you can see, with just a little planning and awareness, this time of year can be enjoyable and easy on your budget. And that’s what I call a successful holiday season!