Depending on your outlook, the holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and spending time with loved ones, or a time of stress due to crowds and the strain on your budget. Well, we're here to help alleviate some of that stress with a few tips.
Save On Gifts
Make Your List & Check It Twice. Whether you know what you need to buy or who you need to buy for, put your high-priority items at the top. Remember, Santa has to buy presents for the whole world, but you don't. Keep your list handy so when you're at the store or browsing a store online, you can snag an item or two and check items off of your list a little a time. Spreading out purchases will help you check items off of your list and prevent straining your budget.
Know Your Limit. Take a look at your budget and determine what you can feasibly spend for the holidays. What disposable income do you have to allocate towards holiday spending and are there areas you can cut back to increase your holiday budget? Plan for gifts, decorations, holiday meals, travel, and more. We often overlook expenses such as gift wrap, holiday cards, and postage stamps, but they add up. If you can, build yourself a little buffer for unplanned expenses.
Make It A Group Project. If you're thinking about purchasing a big ticket item, ask a family member or friend if they'd like to pitch in with you. For example, maybe the kids want a new game system. Instead of mom and dad buying it, maybe it can be a group from mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa.
Another fun way to gift without having to buy for every single person is a White Elephant or Secret Santa gift exchange. White Elephants are perfect for family gatherings if you want a laugh and Secret Santa gift exchanges are better for a more personalized gifting experience. Either way, everyone gets to be involved without breaking the bank.
Watch For Great Deals. Black Friday is no longer a one-day event. There are always deals going on and this can be super helpful when trying to make the most of every dollar. In fact, did you know December 14th is National Free Shipping Day? Mark your calendar!
Finding a deal is awesome, but only if its on your list. Remember - any amount of money you spend on things that aren't on your list is wasteful spending. Even if you find something for 50% off, that other 50% that you're paying is for something you don't need.
Do It Yourself. DIY gifts may seem like a headache, but they're much more personal and often more cherished. But a gift that looks thrown together at the last minute may come across as insulting. To help prevent this faux pas, try one of these easy DIY Gifts from It's Always Autumn.
One of the best DIY gifts you can give is the gift of your time. We all have that one person on our list who just doesn't need any more stuff, so for this person try homemade coupons like babysitting, cleaning, or a home-cooked meal. Or, make it quality time by scheduling a fishing date or a movie night. Just don't forget to put it on your calendars so you both don't forget.
Save On Wrapping
Did you know that Americans spend more than $7 billion on wrapping paper each year1 and most wrapping paper cannot be easily recycled? Here's how you can save money and help the environment:
Reuse paper. If you've finished unwrapping gifts and notice paper in good condition, fold it up and set it aside for next year's gifting. Gift bags and boxes are even easier to reuse - just replace the tag and you're good to go. You can also use newspaper (think Sunday comics) or brown kraft paper, which is super fun to decorate yourself (or let the kids do it).
Use fabric. Fabric is becoming more and more popular as a tool to wrap gifts. Lightweight cloth like scarves can be used over and over again. Even better - if you're gifting a scarf - use it to wrap another gift. A two-in-one if you will.
Save On Entertaining
The average American party host spends about $1,422.65 on
party planning, according to the New York Post, and hosts an average of seven parties a year. That equates to about $200 per party, but we all know that holiday parties equate to a higher share of that total. Here are some tips to help reduce your bill when you host your holiday gatherings this year:
Try a different kind of meal. Sit-down dinners are more expensive to host. Try brunch, finger foods, or a pot luck. You can leave it up to each guest to bring what they want or assign dishes to ensure you have a good variety.
BYOB. Alcohol and liquor can eat up a party budget pretty quickly. You can eliminate or reduce this cost by limiting your offerings or telling your guests to bring their own favorite drink.
For some people, budgeting for the holidays is stressful and that can really suck the joy and happiness out of this time of year. Take a minute to think back on your favorite holiday memories and ask yourself - are they my favorite because of what I had or because of who I was with? When you have a plan, it is easier to stay focused on the reason for the season and don't let your finances drag you down.