Ahhhh its that time again. The time where people spend their money and buy things. It’s that time when sales look good, stores are trying to get rid of things, and bonuses from your job are right on time. For those of us who have to watch every penny how do we not go broke during the holiday season?
Have a real budget
So you say you are going to spend only $1,000 for the holidays. That’s it….nothing extra. That $1,000 has to stretch for your entire family, friends, and others who you want to give to during the holiday season. Don’t depend on a bonus check and don’t use credit cards. Try to have a real budget and stick to it no matter what. If you do get a bonus use that money towards paying down student loans or something else that needs to be paid. My actual budget every year is $250 for each child. The hubs and I didn’t exchange gifts during the holidays we made it about the kids so my actual budget is $500 give or take a few. I do not go significantly over my budget at all. I have a plan and I know what I need to get early on. If my hubs family decides to exchange name and it goes over my budget I politely decline. Make sure whatever your budget is….it’s cash and not credit. Now that the hubs is gone my budget is still $250 for each child and I stick to that!
Find cheap gifts
Easier said than done but it can be done. Look for coupons and discounts everywhere. Think outside the box and shop around and do something nice. I have a friend who loves beauty so I went around to various places that have the dollar bin in the beauty section. I grab a bunch of stuff and put it in a nice basket or jar for her and she loves it. Pay someone to take photos of a family that is in need of updated photos. I had a guy contact me to take photos of his mother and he is going to take the photos and do a memory book for her for the holidays. The total cost of the gift will only be $75 and that included the photos with me. Go to Groupon and get something nice for someone. There are many ways to find discounted gifts that don’t break your budget and doesn’t look cheap
Give the gift of time
Like the above this is free. Give someone a homemade coupon for a free night of babysitting. Go help a friend volunteer at a homeless shelter. If you are good at organizing offer your time to organize someone’s closet or kitchen. If you are good at cooking offer to cook a weeknight meal on a busy night for someone. Time is free and to me it is more valuable than any gift you can give me. A free night alone while you babysit my kids….where do I sign up.
Travel off peak
I know that people travel during the holidays. Travel someplace that most people won’t even think about traveling to someplace odd and not really a holiday destination. This saves you money. Travel early in December to save money and make it an early Christmas. Start your own tradition of having Christmas with your parents (if you live out of state) on the first weekend of Dec. Travel is cheaper and there isn’t a lot of hustle and bustle going on. If I do travel I go by car and I drive my own car during the holidays (although I do like to rent I save money and only drive my car during the holiday season) I stay with family and friends so I won’t have to pay for a hotel. If traveling is beyond your means, offer to play host and invite your family to you for the holidays. Sometimes people are waiting on you to make the first move.
Layaway or use QVC
I am the queen of layaway and yes it still exists some places. That’s how my mom was able to give me a nice Christmas every year. She did layaway and my Christmas was always nice. If no one does layaway near you you can always order and pay on time with QVC. QVC is my go to place for things I want now. You do have to pay monthly for QVC and I have never had a problem with them. The key is to remember when they will take out every month because if you keep only a few dollars in your account at a time then you are liable to have a negative balance often. I put the date on my google calendar for the months that it will take out and I always put it a few days ahead of takeout time so I have enough time to move money if I need too.
Buy early and save as much as you can. If you can’t afford things be up front in the beginning. I never buy my kids everything they want. They get one item on the list that I can afford and that’s it.
What are your tips for saving money during the holiday?