The holiday season is in full swing and with all this festive cheer it can be easy to justify over-spending. The secret Santa exchange at work, the white elephant get-together this weekend, thoughts of WOWing your kids on Christmas morning…and once everything adds up you become financially stressed. Sure, you’ll catch up eventually, but there are some ways to lessen the burden of holiday spending. First and foremost, it’s a good idea to be purposeful with your spending. Aside from that, there are several ways to redirect some money to give you more room in your budget to splurge on some meaningful things this year.
Money Saving Tips and Tricks
-Some banks and credit unions allow for you to “skip” a monthly payment. You’ll still need to make a percentage of the payment-usually just the interest owed that month-but it might be enough to give your holiday funds a little boost.
-If there are restaurants you like to visit, look for deals where you get a $5 gift certificate if you purchase a $25 gift card, or something along those lines. Then use the gift cards to dine out-it’s free money! Costco, for example, recently had $100 in gift cards for $80.
-If you get a bonus, don’t just spend it. Use it to leverage against debt or save for other things coming up.
-Instead of everyone buying gifts for everyone, suggest a secret Santa method, so everyone is still gifting-just not as much-so you’re really doing everyone a favor!
-There are shopping websites that reward you to do any shopping such as ebates. It’s totally legit-and worth checking out.
-There are browser extensions, like honey, that can search for coupon codes for your online purchases.
-Gift something homemade. Money can buy just about anything, but something handmade is always appreciated because of the thought involved.
-If you’re hosting, embrace potluck. Why should you have to do all the work and buy all the food? Everyone can bring something to contribute, and most likely they will enjoy doing so.
-Start cost-effective traditions such as: touring neighborhood Christmas lights, sledding, seeing Santa at the mall, reading Christmas stories, or baking together. Create memories without spending a lot.
-Check out the deals on Groupon for gift ideas. You can find some very interesting and unique gifts, and their offers and featured items are constantly changing.
-Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. This is something we should always do, but during the holidays there are so many extra things that will catch our attention. Create a list of what’s needed and do your best to stick to it. And if you see something you feel you can’t live without, make a note of it. If you’re still thinking about it a few days from now it might be worthy of your purchase. If not, you know it was just an impulsive thought.
-Adjust W4 withholdings for an immediate increase in take home pay. You have the ability to do this at any time of the year, so use it to your advantage, just remember to adjust it back after a month or two. You can choose to do this before the holidays to increase your spending power, or after when you’re working to pay off what you already spent.
-Use cash or prepaid cards to limit spending for kids or other loved ones and allow them to more easily see what they have left at any point.
-Separate cash into multiple envelopes that are dog-eared for specific types of expenses. This works really well if you have the discipline to save a little all year-stash it in your “holiday spending” envelope and when the holidays arrive, you’ll have a financial jump start. If you’re able to set aside enough all year, you could breeze right through the holiday season without a second thought to the financial impact…because there won’t be one.
-Don’t use credit cards when you don’t have to. Look to using credit cards when you know you can immediately pay off the balance in full. Getting caught in the cycle of paying it off later isn’t good for your financial health. Always think of the big picture. It might be bringing you joy today, but in a month it could be bringing you stress.
-Look at credit cards that give you rewards. If you’re going to use credit, you might as well benefit from it too.
-Rent outfits for holiday parties. If you don’t like to wear the same old thing but also don’t want to buy a bunch of new outfits you can rent one. Sites like renttherunway.com can help. These days there are also some great consignment shops to buy discounted lightly used clothes. Chances are good you won’t wear it again, so why spend a fortune when you don’t have to?
-Purchase 2nd hand gift cards. Many people receive gift cards that they don’t plan to use. You may be able to find discounted gift cards at cardpool.com… in addition, check your wallet for any gift cards you’ve received that you aren’t planning to use. Or if you can, use them to purchase gifts for people on your list.
-BYOB. If you are hosting a holiday get together, why not think about cutting the high cost of drinks and allow guests to bring what they want to drink.
-Redeem points. Many banks, credit unions, and credit card companies offer points. Check in with them to see if you can cash in some points.
-Cut coupons. Now is the best time of year to open up the coupon flyers in the mail and see what you might be able to take advantage of. A little bit of searching and cutting could save you a significant amount of money.
-Get a price match. With larger purchases like TVs and computers, it pays to shop around. Even if there is a better option elsewhere, you may be able to save time and money by asking if a store offers a price match guarantee. Many stores do, but they don’t always advertise it.
-Send an e-card. This will save you time and money on the material and postage.
-Invest in an artificial tree. You’ll pay a decent amount for a realistic looking tree, but it will last for many years. It will be less messy and less expensive in the long run.
-Buy LED Christmas lights. They are more efficient, longer lasting, and less fragile than traditional bulbs.
But Wait...There's More!
We can all use a little help finding extra cash around the holidays. If you are in a real financial bind and you feel this list of tips and tricks won’t make enough of an impact on your spending power this year, there are other ways to get creative with your financial resources. Retirement savings, former employer benefits, or life insurance policies might open some avenues you haven’t previously thought of. It’s best to discuss these options with someone to help you balance the pros and cons of any decision. Let us help. We have solutions to fit your financial needs, and the experience to help you move forward without taking a few steps back this holiday season. Contact us today to learn more about how to become financially healthy and stay that way.