Who doesn’t want to save a little money on the holidays this year?
Want to the holidays without post-holiday debt and the stress that comes along with it? Here are eight things you can do now to cut holiday spending without ruining any of the fun.
1. Look around. Before you go out and buy wrapping paper, tape and decorations check your closet. You may have some left over from last year. Make sure to keep all of your holiday stuff in one area so it’s easy to find and test lights once they’re out. That way, you know what you have and aren’t buying extra just because you see it in the stores.
2. Create a budget. Save all year round to ensure you have enough and leave some extra for incidentals. Some incidentals might include stamps for greeting cards, extra little gifts, and supplies for holiday baking. Also, try to save some money for the sales after Christmas too when you can buy all the holiday items at a steal.
3. Plan accordingly with credit cards. If you plan on using your credit card for gifts this year and you still have a balance on them, it’s important to know what you’re capable of paying off. Try to save some for the holidays coming up and wipe out the current balance. To minimize added interest, keep the budget to what you can (comfortably) pay off at the end of the month. Be realistic about what you can afford.
4. Get crafty. Do you suddenly realize — in early December — that you could have saved a lot of money using your evening TV time for some fun, crafty projects for holiday gifts or decorations?
Use your creativity, but don’t get overwhelmed. Compare the difference to what it would cost for you to make something versus finding it on a sale table. Also, use your craftiness sparingly and keep the list of recipients down to those who will truly appreciate your work.
5. Gift exchange. Exchanging gifts with extended family and friends doesn’t automatically mean burning through cash or spending hours shopping. Some possible ideas are to set limits on the price and to make it fun. For example, you could work together to hand make something and share it among everyone (like a recipe book or pictures) or exchange gifts secret Santa style so gifts are more specialized. People are so much more relaxed when they don’t have to compete financially with other family members.
6. Be prepared for travel. Start looking at airfare and hotel prices as soon as you know you’ll be going. The sooner you know the better because last-minute travel plans around the holidays can get tricky and pricy. Two months before traveling is usually the time when you’ll get the best prices on holiday travel. This means Thanksgiving should be booked around September and Christmas around October. It could help you save up to 50 percent on last-minute fares and hotel rates by booking ahead—especially for popular warm-weather destinations.
Other tips on air travel include:
Avoid flying Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Fares tend to be higher these days. Play with (the) flexible booking tool that a lot of sites have and you can see what the options are for different combinations.
Go nonstop. While the ticket may cost more, you also limit the risk of expensive weather-related. The last thing you want to do is deal with a missed connection from a blizzard that could have been avoided.
Be flexible. Family holiday get-togethers don’t always have to take place on the day. You know what they say “It’s the thought that counts”.
7. Decide what you’re going to serve holiday guests in advance. This way you can keep an eye out for specials on your favorite brands. Membership clubs are a great place to start when looking for these deals, particularly on items such as wine and chocolates which are commonplace during the holidays. Also, if you have room in the freezer pick up items that become pricier around the holidays, such as smoked salmon and beef tenderloin, at their pre-holiday prices.
8. Think ahead. Need a new tablecloth or some new dinnerware for that Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner? Or maybe you just want to repaint the dining room? Ask yourself “What do I need to do if I’m having people over for the holidays?” then set a time frame, and make it doable without overexerting yourself.
If the best thing you make for the holiday dinner is reservations, line that up now. At this point in time, you still have time to find out which restaurants are open and what they’ll be serving, plus you can book the time and seating you want.