How to Save Money During the Holidays
The Holiday Season is upon us and with it are the seemingly uncontrollable itch to spend. During this time of the year, it’s so easy to spend and so difficult to save money.
Lots of parties and merrymakings are held during this time of the year. Adding to the festive air is the “spirit of giving” that compels everyone to buy something for someone. And then, there’s a long list of shopping centres and online stores that offer big discounts on various items as they get rid of old stocks and make room for new supplies.
With all the countless events that you have to attend and bargains that you just can’t afford to miss out on, it is often inevitable to spend more than your usual budget and almost impossible to save money. However, even when spending temptations abound, you can still keep your spending at a reasonable level and save money during the holidays.
Here are smart ways to do it.
1. Make a Holiday spending plan
Planning and organising your expenses in advance can help you budget and track your spending. It also serves as a guide that prevents you from getting sidetracked by unnecessary expenses that often come in the form of flash sales, limited-time service offers, and impromptu lunch and coffee trips.
To avoid spending a lot of these gratuitous expenses, create a holiday spending plan according to your forecasted expenses and how much you can afford to spend.
- Start by allocating a set amount for your holiday expenses.
- Then, make a list of all the expenses you’re expecting to incur as the holidays unfold. These should cover all the costs of attending events and parties, costumes and outfits you’re wearing, the gifts you’re giving out, Holiday decorations that you’re putting up and the food you’re making on Christmas and New Year’s eves.
- Divide your overall Holiday budget over your different spending needs. Be realistic with your budget. It may be ideal to limit your budget for gifts to only around $30, but this may be difficult to follow if you have plenty of godchildren to give presents to.
- Try to spend only within your allocated budget for each spending category. If you’ve set a $200 budget for holiday decorations, for instance, hold yourself back from buying that lovely 300-dollar artificial Christmas tree. If you overspend in one category, you can use the unspent budget from other spending categories.
- Track your spending. As you go through the holiday season, monitor all your holiday-related spending and see to it that you don’t spend beyond your allocated budget.
Tip: Sticking to a cash-only system for your holiday spending is more effective in controlling your purchases and tracking your expenses. This is especially true for small purchases that can easily go unnoticed with credit card use but can quickly add up if not monitored and controlled.
2. Take advantage of shopping sales
Plenty of stores and service centres offer great discounts on products and services during the Holiday season generally for two reasons:
- To take advantage of the shopping sales frenzy
- To get rid of old and slow-moving stocks and make room for new items
Stores understand that during the holiday season, people are more likely to spend money. Apart from year-end bonuses, home decorating and gift-giving have also become traditional holiday activities. While decors and gifts do not need to be commercialised, the stores provide convenience for many people who do not have time to DIY stuff. Those who do may also need to purchase materials to create personalised items.
The holiday season falls at the end of the year, which is a time when many stores try to sell as much of their products as possible to hit the sales quotas and to get rid of slow-moving old stocks. This results in stores--from supermarkets to fashion outlets to car dealerships--offering a lot of bargains and lowest prices of the year.
If your Holiday spending budget is ample and you’re planning to buy a car for yourself or for a loved one, December is also a good time for car-buying. Numerous researches have shown that car prices are at their lowest during the last month of the year, specifically on December 31 when dealerships try to sell as many soon-to-be outdated models as possible.
Even if you don’t have enough savings to buy a vehicle by cash, you can take advantage of this period by getting your dream vehicle through a car loan.
3. Send e-cards instead of the traditional Holiday cards
If you’re the type of people who love to send out holiday cheers to family and friends, write your well-wishes on Christmas e-cards instead of buying holiday cards. The latter costs aplenty and may even require postage to reach their intended recipients.
Meanwhile, e-cards won’t cost you anything because you can get them for free on the Internet. You can also personalise them with photos of you and your family or whatever fancy decors you want to include in the cards. Aside from saving money, you can save trees and promote environmental conservation by going paperless.
4. Try Potluck
Instead of solely preparing the food for dinner parties on Christmas and New Year’s eves, recommend a potluck reception. Have your guests bring their best recipes to the banquet. Aside from giving your friends and relatives an avenue to showcase their culinary masterpieces, the idea of sharing fits very well with the occasion.
Of course, you’ll also save a lot of money from buying less food or food ingredients for cooking, as well as electricity and energy from spending less time in the kitchen.
5. Treat yourself less
Holiday-themed food and drinks abound during the Christmas season. Sometimes, you just can’t afford to miss out on these limited-time treats. Go on then, treat yourself. But always tread with control. That little “Christmas latte habit” of yours may be draining out your Holiday spending budget. If you stop spending on coffee-outs and dine-outs, you will have more money in your pocket.
You’ve probably received a holiday sticker card from Starbucks or stamp cards from other fancy coffee shops, which lets you get a free next-year journal after completing 12 stickers or stamps. While this is ideal if you frequent coffee shops often, this marketing promotion runs for a limited time only, which compels you to buy more coffee than usual. If frequenting coffee shops is not part of your monthly budget and if using a journal is not really your thing, you’re only throwing money in the bin by joining the hype.
Shopping and is another activity that should be controlled. While there are plenty of sales and holiday vacation trips on bargains, it is best to check your budget first before “grabbing” any great offer. Is the discounted product or service something you’ve been planning to have even before it was on sale? If not, do you have the extra money in your budget for its purchase? Bargain shopping can actually end up being expensive if it gets out of hand.
The Holiday Season is a season of shopping frenzy. Nevertheless, you can still effectively control your spending and save money if you have a clear budget plan and you’re fully committed to managing your finances well.
Positive Lending Solutions is a finance broking firm in Australia that can help you find personal finance that suits any of your lifestyle needs. To talk to one of our loan experts, call 1300 722 210 or fill out a Loan Pre-Approval form.