I know, it’s only November 2nd today, but many of you are already starting your Christmas shopping, and I want to make sure that you don’t overextend your budget this year. So just for a second, put down those sale papers, put away your credit cards, and listen to how you could save yourself a fortune this holiday season. Here are 11 fantastic ways to save money this Christmas season.
Some people try to save money by waiting until the very last second to do their Christmas shopping. They figure that at this point the stores are deeply discounting their merchandise so that they aren’t forced to inventory a massive number of products for months to come. While this is partially true, the deep discounting only pertains to those items that are Christmas specific like decorations, eggnog, and Santa blankets. As for those typical gifts, they are already being discounted at this moment. Instead of day trading the market of toys and jewelry, it’s best to just find a decent deal and make the purchase early.
Now, if you decide to buy some presents early, you must also be able to tell yourself to stop buying. With all that extra time it can be easy to find just one more doll for Susie or dump truck for little Jack, but this will just lead to you spending more money rather than saving it.
#2. Set Up Your Total Budget
There are so many people that just start Christmas shopping without even thinking about how much money they actually have in their bank account. The typical move (as I learned just a few years ago) is to use your credit card and buy up all the gifts you think you need and then just start paying down that credit card after the holidays. Do you know how long it takes the average person to pay off their Christmas expenses? Six months! They truly don’t pay for all those gifts until the end of June! Isn’t that scary?
Instead of just loading up the credit cards and discovering the aftermath in January, try something a little different this year. Set up a budget based on what is currently in your bank account. If you have saved up a bit of money in the last couple of months (because you actually anticipated Christmas coming – who’d have thought?), then decide from that amount how much you would be willing to spend. For many, they will be comfortable spending around $400 each season. If, however, you only have an extra $50 at this moment, then that is your maximum Christmas budget (this is possible by the way, but you have to get creative!).
#3. Make a List of People and Gifts
So before you even start shopping, you want to first decide on your total budget and then make a list of people you would like to give to and the type of gift you would like to give them. This is a great way to intentionally give to various people without just heading out to the store and spending money on a whim.
#4. Estimate the Costs
Once you form your gift list, your next step will be to estimate how much each gift would cost you and total up the costs at the bottom of the page. For many, this total comes to far more than the overall budget they set for themselves (especially if your overall budget was $50). At this point, you’ll have a three choices. You can either:
- Cross their name off the list and give them nothing
- Choose to give a few people less expensive gifts
- Save money by making more gifts yourself instead of buying them from the store
If you really had your heart set on giving everyone on your list a gift, then it is either time to make a gift for them or buy them something that is quite a bit less expensive than you previously planned on. Ultimately, if they truly love you, they will appreciate any gift that you give them.
There are so many presents being given and received these days that each gift feels a little heartless and cold. Your gift to your sister might be new pajamas or a new shirt that you think she’d like. While you did put some thought into these gifts, how much time did it really take you to pick it out and wrap it up? Maybe 15 minutes? There isn’t a lot of heart in that. Now what if, instead, you gathered up a bunch of pictures of you and her and your memories together to make a framed collage? Not only would she love it, but it would only cost you about $2.00 for the thrift store picture frame and the glue. If you truly think about what makes your loved one smile, I bet you could make them something wonderful that won’t break the bank, and that they will cherish forever.
#6. Do Your Homework Online
If you are looking for a certain gift from a retail store, take your search online instead. Often times, especially around the holidays, you can find gift items for much cheaper online and with free shipping. I would advise searching Amazon.com and eBay.com. If you know of the retail store that is selling the item, check their online site. Often times you’ll find that it’s cheaper there!
As much as I hate to admit it, Black Friday and Cyber Monday do produce great deals on certain products. However, they also produce mediocre deals that many people bite on. Here is how the whole promotion works. They have some great deals on about 10-20 products, but only have a limited quantity of those items. The rest of the store might present itself to look like a deal, but it’s really not. This is how the store creates a net positive gain over this crazy sales weekend. If you find a great deal and are willing to fight for it, try the Black Friday sales. Just be sure not to get suckered into buying anything else in the process.
#8. Use Your Gift Cards
If you opened up your purse right now, I bet you would find some old gift cards that you just haven’t gotten around to using yet. Before they expire, why not use them to buy gifts for your friends and family? That remaining $10 on your gift card is a better savings than nothing!
#9. Use Your Reward Points
For some reason, we all tend to blow our rewards points on senseless things like spontaneous travel, a new Taylor Made driver, or some chintzy piece of junk from the credit card store. Instead of wasting your money on things you don’t need, why not use those points for gift cards that you can buy gifts with? If you enter the points now, you can still get your gift cards before Christmas.
#10. Find Discount Codes Online
Whenever I buy something online, I make a point to search Brad’s Deals and RetailMeNot.com for a coupon code before I check out. Many times I can get 10-20% off my purchase, or at the very least I can score free shipping on my purchase. If you are shopping online, always take an extra 2 minutes to search for some discount codes. It could save you $20 or more on your purchase. I’d say 2 minutes would be worth a $20 savings!
Bonus: Track Your Purchases With Cash
Consider this a bonus suggestion. If you often spend too much money around Christmas time, perhaps it would help if you had a visual for your spending. When you decide how much your total budget will be, withdraw that amount from the bank and keep it in your home in cash. If you go out to the store, take that cash with you to make the purchase. If you make an online purchase (with your credit card no doubt), take that money out of your cash pile and deposit it back into the bank. When you are out of cash you are done shopping. It’s as simple as that! This will show you exactly how much money you have left to spend without even having to think about it.
Are you ready to save money this holiday season? What tip do you like best? Maybe you have one of your own?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.