Whether you are looking forward to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Chinese New Year, holidays are meant to be filled with family, friends, and gratitude.
Unfortunately, the holiday season can be a stressful time for many, and without proper planning, may leave you financially stretched.
Below are a few ways to start saving money now, ensuring you have a stress-free holiday season.
1. Plan Before You Spend
With so many people you have to buy gifts for, you can lose track of what you are buying and who it is for. You forget that you already bought your sister a present, so you buy her another one. It’s too late to return one gift, so now you’re stuck giving her two and spending too much money on her.
That’s why planning before you spend is crucial. Staying organized helps you better manage your finances.
Make a list of all the people you need to buy gifts for, and write down specifically what it is you are planning to buy them. Keeping a list like this on your phone can come in handy when you quickly pop into Walmart for a few groceries and find yourself looking at the electronics sales section. Having a list keeps you on track when thinking about buying a gift for someone – and all the other expenses related to the holidays.
2. Have a Budget
Having a budget is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself when it comes to pretty much anything, including buying gifts for others. With no budget in mind, you can very easily overspend.
Plan in advance how much you want to spend this year. Put all of that money into a separate account to use when buying gifts. That way, you know that you can’t go over budget. To make things even more specific, have a budget for each specific person. By doing this, you know if getting your nephew that new toy is in your budget or not.
3. Look For Deals
Deals can be found everywhere, especially nearing the holidays. Look online to find great deals from discounted websites. GroupOn is an excellent platform for sharing great coupons and deals on products and services like spas, recreational centres, beauty services, and restaurants. Likewise, Honey is a browser extension that applies valid coupons to any purchases you make online. Not only does this save you time from scrolling through the web for promo codes, but it also saves you money. But remember – don’t go over your budget just because something is at a discounted price.
4. Use Your Loyalty Cards
Odds are you probably have loyalty cards from many different stores. You scan your card without even giving it a second thought – it’s just become a part of your routine. Have you ever looked at the points you’ve accumulated? If you use loyalty cards often, especially for places like grocery stores, you probably have a lot more points than you realize. These points can usually be used as a currency and, if you have enough, you can buy large gifts like electronics or kitchen appliances.
Take a minute to look up your loyalty cards and see how many points you have, and what you can potentially use these points for. They can come in handy if you’re looking to save money. And if you don’t have enough points for this, make sure you always scan your loyalty cards when you check out, as many companies apply 10-15% off when you do so, which can add up over time.
5. Give Yourself Time
The holidays always seem to arrive in the blink of an eye. Many people end up rushing to get gifts just days before Christmas, without leaving any time to consider the price they are paying. That’s why starting your shopping early is key. You’re able to carefully plan out gifts, and have the opportunity to wait for and find the best deals.
While it can seem out of place to buy gifts for people months before your holidays arrive, you’ll thank yourself later. Imagine if you finish all of your winter shopping by the fall, and you don’t have to stress about the gifts you have left to buy and if you have the money for it? Starting early also gives you time to make sure all of your holiday-related debt is paid off by the time the date arrives, so you can relax and enjoy stress-free.
6. Use Your Credit Card Wisely
Using your credit card sensibly is important. The holidays should not put you in debt just so you can make your loved ones happy (and I’m sure they wouldn’t be happy if they knew it put you in debt).
Using your credit card often is great for building a good credit score. The holidays are an excellent time for this, as there is likely a surplus in your purchases as you buy gifts for others.
But make sure that you are being careful and using your credit card wisely. Don’t buy anything you can’t afford, or that you know you won’t be able to pay off come your next payment. Interest rates can add up, causing you to spend more money over a longer period of time.
Think about whether using your credit card will help your financial situation in the long run.