Many people dread the holiday season because of the aftermath of bills and the hit it takes to their bank accounts. But showing others you care and celebrating the season do not have to cost a fortune. With a little careful planning and some willpower, you can save money on Christmas and curb your holiday spending so that all you have to look forward to in January is using the gifts you received.
Make a List
Impulse buys are the crux of the retail holiday season, and it’s easy to get sucked in to purchases that you don’t really need. Instead of simply wandering around stores searching for gifts, make a list of what you really need and who you have to buy for and stick to it. If you have specific gifts in mind for certain people, purchase those gifts only and nothing more. And if you know who you have to buy for but not exactly what to get them, write down what gifts you buy as you purchase them to keep track. This way, you won’t be left with five gifts for one person that you don’t need and no gifts for someone else. Once you’ve met your quota, stop shopping.
One of the reasons people overspend during the holiday season is that they don’t pay attention to how much they’ve spent. It’s easy to just keep buying, running your card through the machine, and then getting shocked with a bill much bigger than your budget the next month. To keep track of your spending, save all receipts and record them in a budget. This way, you’ll be fully aware of what you’ve spent and how much money you have left.
Don’t Use Credit Cards
Credit cards are the easiest way to blow a budget. When you continue to swipe your credit card through the machines at the stores, you’re spending on credit, and nothing is coming out of your bank account-at least not until the bill comes in. Spending with credit creates a false sense of security, and before you know it, you’ve spent way more than you can afford. Instead of using a credit card for holiday spending, use a debit card, or even better, cash. This way, you will constantly see how much you’ve spent and how much money you have left.
Enlist Help From Others
If you’re planning a holiday party, save money by making it a potluck. Ask everyone to bring a favorite dish, and you’ll provide the main course and drinks. If you have a friend with extra decorations or wrapping supplies, see if you can share. Bartering with friends is a great way to save money and get help from others who have different skill sets than yours. Chances are, others will be happy to help when you can offer different services; when everyone shares, you save money and have a better time.
Shop All Year
When you know the preferences of people close to you like children, spouses, siblings, parents, and friends, it’s easy to snag gifts they’d enjoy when they go on sale, no matter what time of year it is. I shop for others all year, whenever I see good deals, and then keep track of what I’ve spent and what I’ve purchased. This way, I save money and time, as I’m not part of the last-minute holiday rush of shoppers.
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