It’s easy to get carried away and forget how much you’re spending during the holiday season.Here are 10 tips to help keep you out of the red so you can start the new year off without the holiday shopping hangover!
Post sponsored by Mobilicity
We know firsthand how hard it is to stay within a budget at holiday time. With parties, overnight guests, big dinners and gifts, the bills can add up quickly. According to a recent survey by Mobilicity, 58 per cent of Canadians say they spend more than they should during the holidays and a further 59 per cent find themselves making impulse purchases.
Don’t let your generosity get the better of your good sense. Try one or all of these holiday money saving ideas and you’ll thank yourself every January!:
10 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays
1.Buy your gifts throughout the year, rather than rushing around in December. For one thing, you’ll save yourself a ton of time by picking things up here and there when you’re already out and about at various stores, but you’ll also avoid the holiday rush, and the holiday prices! Extra bonus: You’ll be able to get gifts far cheaper – items such as clothing and electronics for example can be found deeply discounted after the holidays.
2. Start a “holiday fund”. Put holiday spending money away slowly throughout the year by loading up reusable gift cards specifically for holiday spending. Get one for each store you plan to shop in at holiday time and whenever you’re in, add what you can to the card. Then, if you have to do your shopping in December, you won’t have to touch your bank account.
3. Make a list and stick to it! This one reminds me of my dad, who likes to tease my mom when she goes shopping. His famous line (which drives her crazy): “Get in, get out and don’t touch anything!”. Amusing as my dad seems to find this, it’s actually sound advice. If you’re doing your holiday shopping in November or December, be prepared. The store is going to make your shopping experience as tempting as possible. Don’t be seduced– the sooner you can grab what you came for and make your escape, the better for your bank account.
4. Shop online This is a great way to avoid temptation, as it’s a much faster way to shop, and you’re not stopping every two seconds to pick up sparkly ornaments and cute, Santa-shaped teapots. If you’re a “toucher” (you can’t resist picking things up when they catch your eye), shopping online is a great way to avoid trouble.
5. Take the kids with you. One of the best ways I know of to get shopping done in record time is to make sure I have my kids with me. You know what I mean. If you have your munchkins in tow, there’s no way you’ll have time to browse and / or stray from your original plan. They’ll keep you (and your credit card) in check! Besides, cute companions!
6. Divide and conquer This is best done throughout the entire year as explained in #1 above, but if you’re a December-only shopper, there’s still time to budget! Just make a list of the gifts you need and their approximate cost. Tally them up and divide by 3. Then spend only (or as close to) that 1/3 total as you can for all 3 shopping weeks of December. For example, if your list’s total is $600, spend only $200 a week for all 3 weeks of December, rather than spending it all at once. This is especially helpful if you’re paid weekly, as the funds can be replenished on payday, helping you avoid overuse of credit cards.
7. Go Green! The benefits of being environmentally conscious are twofold. The obvious first reason is that it’s far better for the environment. But going green is often also a great way to save money. Some tips for having a greener (and less expensive!) holiday:
- Re-Use the Wrap – Why spend more on expensive wrap when you likely have some great wrapping materials in your home already? Glue fabric to a plain box to dress it up without the need for paper, try newspaper as wrapping and write the recipient’s name on it with a brightly coloured marker, wrap with plain kraft paper and use a pretty ribbon, or use a reusable shopping bag with some tissue stuffed inside.
- Give from the heart – Why not give homemade gifts this year? This is a great option if you’re crafty, but even if you’re not, there are countless quick and easy homemade gift ideas online – check sites like Pinterest for inspiration and give something extra special this year.
- Buy Local – Despite what the big box stores want you to believe, you can get some fabulous gifts at your local “mom and pop” stores. Less car travel means less gas, which is better for the environment and makes for even more savings in your pocket, not to mention the fact that you’ll save time by not going as far!
8. Think outside the “box”! Instead of hitting the mall, get creative (and more personal) with your gift giving by trying some often overlooked options. Some ideas: magazine subscriptions (there’s always a discounted subscription card inside and they usually have a gift subscription option), or credit card gift cards, gift certificates for services such as spa treatments or car service (did you know some car dealerships do this for oil changes?), or “IOU” type gifts, such as offers for free babysitting, dog walking, help with gardening (great for seniors!), etc.
9. Party on the cheap Hosting or attending a holiday party? This time of year is all about decadence and I’m not going to tell you to tone that down- we all deserve a little extravagance during the holidays! But who says it has to cost a lot? Make that party a pot luck, BYOB, and hit up a local thrift shop for your party decor. If you need a snazzy dress and / or accessories, borrow from a stylish friend or get sassy and pick them up at a trendy consignment store (a lot of these stores sell items that are new with tags, not just gently used items). You’ll be amazed at the fabulous finds, and nobody but you has to know where you got it! While you’re at it, bring in some of your own gently used things to consign and save even more on future shopping too! You’re welcome.
10. Minimize travel Family from out of town pressuring you to visit? When you’re on a budget, giving in to the guilt can be a huge strain on your finances. It’s hard to say no when it comes to loved ones at holiday time, but if youthink about what you’ll save by staying home, it might be a little easier to accept. Deciding not to make that 5 hour drive saves you time, gas, and wear and tear on your vehicle. If you’re foregoing a plane ride, your choice to stay home will also save you the cost of tickets, airport taxi, car rental, hotel, restaurants… the list goes on. Not to mention all the schlepping of stuff. You’ll also possibly be saving your own sanity if your kids aren’t the best travellers (and, really- can we expect them to be?), or if your mother-in-law is going to start in on you about having another baby. Besides, are you really going to get a good night’s sleep on Aunt Betty’s creaky old couch? If the relatives really want to see you, invite them to visit you this year, or introduce them to Skype, or just have a plain old fashioned phone chat instead. Bonus: Chillaxing in your own cozy bed.
Do you have some great money saving holiday tips? We’d love to know what you do to keep your money at this time of year- feel free to share in the comments section below!
Content courtesy of Mobilicity, Canada’s smart mobile carrier. Find out how to avoid a holiday shopping hangover and reduce your monthly spending all year round with unlimited data, talk and text, without contracts and hidden fees at Mobilicity.ca. Now that’s smart!