Practical Living

Smart Spending: A Guide for a Budget- Friendly Holiday Season

Ah, the holiday season- a time of giving, but always, the season of SPENDING! Last time I talked about how to stay organized to avoid being overwhelmed by the holiday season. Read here!

Today, let’s delve into the holiday money problem! Don’t let the holiday season break your wallet. Many people forget the concept of budgeting and money management, and when holidays arrive; they tend to overspend, or they don’t have the budget to celebrate the holidays. These are my tips to save money while still enjoying a happy holiday season.

1. Start planning early

So many people stress out during the holiday season because of the spending on gifts, decorations, and festive activities. The holiday season happens at the same time of the year; make a plan so you’re prepared! Without proper planning and budgeting, your spending can quickly add up, and if you don’t watch out, all those expenses will become an overwhelming debt. Let’s kick off the new year without debt stress.

Knowing your goals and priorities to help you set a better and realistic budget that covers your holiday expenses, from gifts, food and drink, decoration or even travel! Once your goals are set, you will have more time and flexibility in how much you will need to save weekly or monthly. Planning early allows you to save in small chunks for a longer time to meet your goals without stress. You can easily determine how much you will need to save for each category as well. These are big categories for most people:

  • Gifts: Begin by narrowing down your gift list. It seems easy but it can also be challenging. You will find more tips below.
  • Travel smart: Many people need to travel to visit their friends and family, or they want an awesome holiday trip! Budget for your gas and tolls, airfare, bag fees, even hotel stays! I also highly recommend you plan for food during traveling too, so you don’t have to buy expensive airport food.
  • Food and drink: Your holiday grocery bills will be higher than normal! There are certain things you can purchase ahead of time to save such as pantry dry goods, canned goods, and some housing essential supplies.
  • Decoration: This cost may be low or high but there are ways to spend little money and get the maximum effect to make your home and environment festive! Read more down below.
  • Entertainment: Holiday seasons also provide various entertainment. But not everything costs money. You can search for free local holiday outings that you can attend with your family and friendss. If you want to see a certain show, you should book your ticket early and snatch some early bird deals!

See!! So much saving just by planning ahead already.

2. Make your gift lists and check them twice (or however many times you would like)

Create a detailed list of people you need to buy gifts for and also any other holiday related expense. People tend to overlook this step, but this simple list is going to help you stay within your holiday budget and stay organized! Most importantly, the list will prevent you from any impulsive purchases and ensure you don’t forget anyone.

3. DIY like a pro

You don’t have to buy all the gifts or all the decorations. Embrace the power of DIY. Homemade gifts can be thoughtful and cost efficient. Consider creating personalized gifts or homemade holiday treats for your friends and family! This doesn’t just help you save money; you also get to add personal touch to your gifts. What is more heartfelt than that! Your DIY gifts are going to show how much you care for your people. 

4. Set gift-giving boundaries

Feel free to discuss gift-giving limits with your friends and family; that way you can manage expectations and help each other reduce financial strain! Set your own Secret Santa or White Elephant games which can help you reduce the number of gifts that you need to purchase. Moreover, you can also set a budget limit for the gifts, so you don’t feel pressure to purchase gifts that are out of your budget. Purchasing a high price tag gift doesn’t guarantee the happiness. The most important is whether your gift makes people feel heartfelt or sincere. 

5. Shop early and smart

Start your holiday shopping early! Don’t wait until the holiday rush; you already have your detailed list. Keep an eye out for sales, promotions, and discounts in store and online. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are excellent opportunities to snag some goodies and other holiday essentials. However, those are not the only shopping times. You should also utilize Prime Days or other store promotions. Another tip is always look for the best deals by comparing prices online and in-store! You can utilize a price comparison website and app to help you get the best deal out there. 

6. Take advantage of rewards and rebate programs

Some people tend to use cash or a debit card for their holiday shopping because they want to avoid accumulating credit card debt. It’s a good way to prevent overspending and accruing unwanted interest. That’s what I loved to do, but now that there are many credit cards with cashback and reward programs, I choose to use credit cards instead. In fact, use them strategically to maximize your benefit and earn extra cashback or points on your spending. The most important thing is to please make sure to pay off the balance in full to avoid interest charges.

If you are doing online shopping, make sure to shop with a cashback shopping portal to get extra cashback! My favorite platform is Mr. Rebates and Rakuten! If you don’t have an account yet, hurry up! Sign up only take a few minutes. Here are the links:

Another online shopping site that people love to use is Amazon. Shop with your Prime credit card if you have one. You get 5% cashback from your Amazon purchases, and sometimes amazon even provides 6% for later delivery option. If you aren’t in a rush, you really don’t need two days plus you get to use less boxes!! 

7. Deck the halls in frugal style

Now, let’s talk about the decorations. You don’t always have to purchase new decorations every year. There is no need to break the bank just to transform your home into holiday wonderland. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You can find free decorations through Facebook marketplace, craigslist or even some community groups from your neighborhood! Just be patient and search for what you need.

Another thing I love to do is shop for decorations after Christmas. Some stores offer 70-90% off for holiday decor; it’s so crazy but you can buy ahead for next year! I got a Halloween doormat at Target after Halloween for just $2. It was such a steal. Even though it’s no longer Halloween, I still use it because it’s so cute! Take advantage of those post-holiday sales! Lastly, don’t forget the power of DIY, you can also make your own decoration or ornaments! Repurpose your unwanted items or some items that you haven’t use for a while. All these tips are going to help you add some unique touch to your festive home!

8. Festive meals planning

It may be your turn to host a holiday gathering! I highly recommend making it a potluck style where everyone contributes a dish! There is no shame of hosting a potluck meal; you don’t have do everything! That way help you eases the financial burden and it also prevent you from being overwhelmed by preparation! Trust me, all that cooking will make you crazy! Let’s not struggle like that. Potlucks also make the holiday feast experience more inclusive and diverse.

This holiday season don’t get a money problem hangover after the celebration! By planning ahead, setting boundaries and being creative, you can enjoy the magic of the holiday without breaking your bank! Spend smart and enjoy your holiday!

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