Most American expect to spend $830 this holiday season. If you live on a tight budget, this dollar amount is very high. Some people save money on gifts by making jams or beautiful crafts. However, you might not have the time (or frankly the talent) to produce a homemade gift that looks professional.
Travel also adds to the cost of the holiday season. You do not want to start 2016 with huge credit card debt. Here are some practical tips to reduce your expenses this holiday season.
- Make a Budget and Pay Cash – A famous study found that people spend more shopping when they use credit cards as opposed to cash. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on gifts now. Pay for every item in cash and avoid using credit cards.
- Allow Yourself Plenty of Time – When the recession hit, you probably saw many retailers offering steep discounts close to Christmas to get rid of everything from clothes to electronics. With improvements in the economy, it is now better to plan ahead and shop aggressively for good prices.
- Use Good Shopping Apps – Speaking of shopping aggressively, apps such as RedLaser and ShopSavvy help you find good deals on presents. These apps are replacing the circulars your parents used to ask for a “price match” on certain items. And coupon sites like Frugaa.com can help you save on everyday items when you shop online.
- Buy a Family Gift – Buying gifts for every niece, nephew, and adult quickly gets expensive. This situation leads you to feel resentful, not joyous. Ask your siblings and other relatives to describe a gift the whole family will enjoy. This strategy helps you save on time and costs for gifts and shipping.
- Focus on (Small) Kids – If you have young nieces and nephews, consider just buying gifts for them. If that is unlikely to fly with your family, purchase nice small gifts such as picture frames and candles for their respective households.
- Donate to a Favorite Charity – Do your grandparent have everything? Instead of spending $50 on a gift that just clutters up their house, donate $25 in their names to their favorite charity. It saves you money and your gift will be used immediately.
- Be Careful of Airline Fees – If you fly home for the holidays, carefully examine the fees for checking bags. One airline’s higher sticker price might be worth it if the company’s checked bag fees are low or included in the price. Read any “deals” closely to make sure you do not get hit with “administrative fees” for any reason.
- Don’t Rush – Ever heard that it is cheaper to fly on Christmas Day? Turns out that is outdated advice. Airlines got smart and closed that loophole. Investigate the prices for traveling on days throughout the holiday season.
Feel Less Stress
Between workplace and family events, the end of the year is more stressful than joyous for millions of people. You do not want this time of the year to feel like it is one chore after another. Apply the recommendations listed above to lighten the financial load this holiday season.