The holidays are right around the corner and you’re probably looking for ways to cut back on the gift-giving this year to save money.
Am I Right?
I mean why has Black Friday encroached on our Thanksgiving dinner? I remember when we had the entire day to socialize with family and still have enough time for seconds and dessert.
I celebrate Christmas, but sometimes I feel as if the holiday is becoming too commercialized and there’s pressure to buy and give more.
And I’m not alone…
According to the National Retail Federation, people will spend an average of $900 on gifts, decorations, food, etc. (this includes Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa).
I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money!
And when you take in account there are people that are spending even more than that, you can imagine the number of people who are going into debt during the holiday season.
Did you know that it is possible to cut back, stay out of debt, and not look like Scrooge this year?
If not, I will show you how to save money on holiday gifts.
Years ago, I used to buy gifts on credit and end up hating myself in January when the bill came in.
I was miserable and had to find a better way.
I love the holidays and Christmas is by far my favorite. There is no way I’m going to stop giving gifts, but I just knew that I didn’t want to go broke doing it.
Here are a few of the tips on how to save money on holiday gifts this year.
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Just Like Santa, Make a List
As much as you might love everyone, there’s no need to buy them all a gift. Especially if you’re going to buy someone a meaningless gift just for the sake of giving one, it’s a waste of money.
You can save money by creating a list of people who you want to purchase gifts for and who you are the closest to. Put some thought into your list and create one you will be able to stick to (use my gift tracker here to stay organized when giving).
Saving money should be your goal and you shouldn’t feel guilty not buying your husband’s fifth cousin’s kids a gift.
By limiting your gift-giving list, you’ll save quite a bit of money. You’re not Santa, so don’t try to keep up with him.
Create a Budget
Budgets aren’t just for your regular monthly bills, you will need to create one during the holidays to keep your financial health in check.
Going into debt just to fill the bottom of a Christmas tree is not smart – so stop it. Being in the “holiday spirit” can put you in a mood that justifies overspending, but it’s not worth it to go into debt.
To create a Christmas budget, determine how much money you can spend – AFTER you take in account your bills and savings).
Next, divide this amount by twelve months and put this money away (if you’re starting late in the game, divide it by the number of months you have left until Christmas).
Make the commitment to yourself to stay within budget, no matter how tempting it is to go over.
Build a Holiday Fund Through Automatic Deductions
One way to plan for gifts is by putting money aside through automatic deductions. Most financial institutions offer savings plan accounts, which make it easy to meet your savings goal throughout the year.
So how do automatic savings plan work? Each week (or every other week, month, etc.) money is deducted from your account and put into a fund of your choosing. You can use it for a trip, but for this instance, you can set it up as a Christmas fund.
You can set up one through your checking or savings account with your bank. Or you could also set up an account with Digit that will automatically deduct and deposit money back and forth to your accounts.
Out of mind and out of sight.
Give Yourself Some Time and Plan Early
It baffles me how most people wait until the last minute to shop for gifts as if they didn’t know Christmas was coming up.
When you wait until the last minute to go shopping for gifts, you tend to make rash decisions and spend more money than would have otherwise spent.
Who has time to fight the crowds or money to pay for overnight delivery on Christmas Eve?
I don’t, and neither do you.
Waiting until the last minute on anything, especially buying holiday gifts, will increase the likelihood you will pay exorbitant fees and rack up credit card debt.
Start holiday shopping as far in advance as you possibly can to save money – and eliminate the stress.
Shopping online can be a great way to save money on holiday gifts. Going online to do your holiday shopping not only saves you time but can actually save you money.
Consider comparing prices between retailers and take advantage of free delivery. In my case, watching sales and shopping online helps me to better gauge my spending. Especially since going to the mall minimizes the triggers that cause me to overspend.
So I avoid it at all costs.
Signing up for an Amazon Prime membership affords you many benefits, including free 2-day delivery and having gifts delivered as late as Christmas Eve.
Consider leaving items in your cart and come back to it later. Often times, the retailer will send you a reminder email or even better yet – a coupon code to take off of your order.
Also, clear cookies to see if you’ll be offered a lower price as well.
Love shopping online like I do? Try Ebates. It’s free to sign up and you can receive cash back from your online purchases.
I’m all about the dolla-dolla bills ya’ll...
…so I leave all credit cards at home and only purchase gifts with cash. Forcing myself to pay in cash also minimizes overspending on gift-giving during the holidays.
There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on credit card interest when you can just pay for it outright. I have seen firsthand how using credit cards to finance Christmas will put you further into debt.
Paying in cold hard cash can keep you within budget. If you don’t have the money to spend, you won’t buy it. This includes paying with a debit card, which can cause you to overspend as well.
Is there ever a great time to use credit cards?
If you’re responsible with your credit cards and only use them to earn miles or points, then, by all means, pull out that Visa (R). Just make sure you can pay them off when the bill comes.
Turn Opinions Into Gift Cards
One of my favorite ways to earn gift cards is by completing surveys.
Every month I earn between $200 – $350+ a month from completing surveys which I redeem for gift cards, such as Amazon and Starbucks. Around the holidays, I try to save them to buy gifts or give away as presents.
My favorite survey companies to earn gift cards:
These companies pay you in cash or PayPal gift card (which can then be converted into cash).
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