It is almost impossible to not get caught up in the fun (and sometimes the stress) of the holiday season. Saving money can be a little difficult, especially when you have bills to pay as well as friends and family to shop for. Here are a few easy tips and ways to save some money during the holiday season.
Decide how much you can spend-
Create a budget and set a plan. Creating a budget is crucial during the holiday season. By making a budget and a spending plan you’re saving yourself and your wallet from overspending. Be sure to take “extra’s” into consideration like the office Yankee Swap, the kids friends at school, and the surprise relative that joins you for the Holidays.
Narrow down your list-
Look at your list and be realistic about what you can and cannot afford. By talking with your friends and family and making gift expectation guidelines, you can figure out a limit of how much you can spend on gifts. If you do that then you can take things off of your list that aren’t needed or necessary.
Many people love getting hand crafted presents rather than over-the-top and overpriced gifts from a store. Making gifts for loved ones, especially handmade from the kids, makes for good memories.
Reduce decoration costs-
If you make your own decorations or hang up your child’s art work you can save money by not having to buy new or expensive decorations. Sometimes keeping things simple is best!
Giving gift cards is an easy, affordable gift to give and allows the user to purchase what they really want or need – no guess work on your part. Or if you have unused ones you could re-gift them or use them for your holiday shopping.
While this may seem tacky, it has become an accepted practice to send e-cards, especially to those that are not within your immediate circle. The cost of cards as well as stamps can add up quickly. Make two lists, one for those that truly should receive a card in the mail from you, like grandma, and those that would be fine with an e-card, like your second cousin.
You can frame pictures or just print some as a quick and meaningful gift. Photos are great reminders of memories shared with loved ones. Something fun and creative, as well as inexpensive, is making a photo board or collage. People appreciate being able to hang up something that reminds them of the past years’ fun times.
Thrift stores are great places to get inexpensive gifts, many of which you can find brand new or never worn. Things like candles, pretty plates and trays you can wrap up homemade cookies on, picture frames you can fill, and books for kids, can all be found in brand new or like new condition.
Make a little place in your home where you can put gift bags, wrapping paper, ribbon/bows, tissue paper etc. so you can easily wrap items when you get home. Wrapping stations at some stores are free (a great thing to take advantage of) but many ask for a fee or donation. Wrapping presents can be a fun way to spend time together as a family and is much cheaper to do at home. (HINT for next year, purchase wrapping items like paper, tape, bags and bows after the holidays when they go on super sale!) Another way to save is to skip the fancy and expensive wrapping papers and buy plain brown wrapping paper and have your kids decorate it with holiday stickers and stamps!
These are some simple ways you can save some money, keep stress levels low, and enjoy the holiday season! Saving money is always fun especially if it allows you to spend some of it on some fun activities with your family. Don’t let the holidays become a spending-spree nightmare, stay smart, stay focused, and stick to your budgets!
Author: Bailey Aines, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont part-time employee