Thanksgiving and Black Friday are almost here, so it’s time to start thinking about ways to make it through the holidays without overspending. Here are six things I do to maintain my budget during the most wonderful (and expensive) time of the year:
Make a Reasonable Budget
I’ve been making a Christmas shopping budget each year since I was ten. It started with a list of family members I wanted to buy gifts for, but has now expanded to include all of the events that surround the holidays. Presents for gift exchanges, hostess gifts, dinners with friends, holiday light tours and the list goes on. Determine a realistic amount for your holiday spending and begin to make a budget.
Prioritize Your Money and Time
Once you have a number in mind, think about the people who you would like to buy gifts for and the events you would like to attend. Sometimes saying “no” to an invitation or restraining yourself from spending on the perfect (but way out of your budget) gift can feel painful, but your sanity and finances will thank you for prioritizing what’s important to you. After you have settled on whom you will buy for and the social events you will go to, set a dollar amount to spend for each gift and party.
Pay with Cash
While I don’t normally use the “envelope system,” I find it a really helpful tool during the holidays. With your budget as a guide, take out the amount of cash you’ll need for gifts and use that predetermined amount instead of a credit card. Using an envelope of cash labeled “mom,” for instance, makes me more focused on buying her gift and helps me avoid impulse buys.
Don’t Shop for Yourself
Speaking of impulse buys, use the holidays as a time to take a break for buying things for yourself. More than half of shoppers admit to buying themselves a present while holiday shopping. While you might feel like you need a new sweater, dress or pair of shoes for holiday parties, use this season as a time to focus on giving to others.
You don’t need to get up early on Black Friday to get great deals. Lots of money-saving offers will flood your inbox and newspaper until Christmas. Don’t buy anything online without looking for a coupon code first. And stock up on great deals on holiday baking supplies and potluck dish ingredients while they’re on sale and have great coupons to use on them. Freebies at drugstores also make great white elephant gifts.
Find Ways to Make Extra Cash
Earlier today, I spent some free time entering some online sweepstakes and won a $25 gift card, t-shirt and hoodie. Even if you don’t win cash or gift cards, many prizes make great holiday gifts. You can also take surveys or do some mystery shopping if you have some free time.
How do you save during the holidays?