Holiday Savings Tips
Who doesn’t love the holidays? It’s the best time of the year, where family and friends get together and we finally get to just have some fun. But, in the midst of all this fun, laughter, food and happiness we easily can forget that it can come at a cost if we fail to plan ahead. Having fun is often confused with spending lots of money and being financially wild. But what can you do when times are tough and you are living on less?
‘Overspending in December can set a whole year off to a disastrous start’
And what about the dreaded January financial slump, after all the fun and games of the December holidays? Overspending in December can set a whole year off to a disastrous start. But with some advanced thought and planning and by using some of these simple holiday savings tips below, you can have fun this December and still have a good start to 2018.
TOP HOLIDAY TIPS
1. Know Your Situation
Going into December blind can be dangerous. The first step in planning for the holidays is knowing exactly how much money will be coming in. Knowing when it will show up in your bank account and deciding which bills need to be paid first. A very small number can even look forward to a little something extra at the end of the year or maybe even that elusive 13th cheque. It is also important to know when in Jan you will receive your next salary payment. Knowing if and when and how much is coming in helps you follow our next tip.
2. Set up a Holiday Budget
Now, admittedly it is seldom fun to make up a budget (unless it shows you how much you can spend on having fun during the holidays) but doing a budget will help you have clarity on what you can and can’t spend. Doing the boring budget first allows you to have fun later without all the stress of constantly wondering if you can afford it or not.
When doing you holidays budget don’t forget to include those pesky new year expenses for 2018! These expenses will include some unusual annual expenses like new year school fees, stocking up on your kid’s school stationery (don’t take your bosses pens and find yourself unemployed) and other once a year type expenses that roll around in the beginning of the new year (eg. your car licence or TV licence)
3. Plan To Give
We all love giving (or getting) gifts during the end of year holidays. Maybe you want to reward your kids for their hard work at school or perhaps you have religious holidays where it is traditional to give gifts. It is lots of fun to see smiles light up faces but it can come at a heavy cost if you are not careful.
A good tip is to plan who you want to give a gift to and how much you can spend on each person’s gift. Write it down in a list. Then add several possible gifts options that you think you could buy within your budget before you head out to the shops. Avoid last minute shopping for gifts. This way you can compare prices to find the best deal and you will avoid overspending on one person’s gift at the expense of others (or blowing your budget).
‘We all love giving (or getting) gifts during the end of year holidays…but it can come at a heavy cost if you are not careful.’
If money is tight and you want to ensure that everyone gets a nice gift then you can cut back and still make sure everyone gets something. A simple arrangement is that everyone buys one gift for one person in the family (rather than all buying multiple gifts). This ensures everyone gets a gift even when on a shoestring budget. Heading to big family get-togethers where you may be socially pressured into handing out lots of gifts? Give gifts at home rather and avoid all that stress.
4. Shop Around
This tip carries on from tip number three above. With enough lead time, (and a clear idea of your budget for each person) you can try to shop for special offers and discounts. An easy and quick way to do this is by shopping around online (saving you travel time and costs). You can find a lot of bargains this way and avoid impulse purchases that exceed your budget. Sometimes retailers overstock on some popular items and drop the prices to help move stock. Though you are buying online and may need to pay delivery, their prices may be much better and save you travel costs (and time). many online suppliers even offer free wrapping together with delivery. So, less wrapping paper costs as well.
5. Share the Costs
Holiday Food – Yummy! We all love delicious good food during the holidays. Big fancy holiday lunches with friends and family with roasts and all the trimmings. So tasty…and expensive. A Good way of reducing your spending while attending or hosting family lunches is to agree beforehand who will contribute what to the all the festivities. It should not be up to you to carry all the costs if many family members or friends will be getting together.
‘It should not be up to you to carry all the costs if many family members or friends will be getting together’
Agree in advance who will cover what. That way, you can add these figures into your budget (in advance) and will only commit to what you can realistically afford to bring along. If you are heading into the stores then don’t Shop On an Empty Stomach. Eat a decent breakfast before heading to the shops. That way you won’t be enticed by all those delicious smells from all the expensive baked treats that are on display trying to lure you into naughty impulse purchases.
6. Get Creative
If you get creative and prepare well then you can cut back on expenses for the silly season while everyone else tends to overspend. To help keep your expenses low you could:
– Try to make some gifts yourself. A personal handmade gift means a lot more than some generic store bought one (as long as you do a reasonable job). Check out local lifestyle or family magazines for cool ideas on how to turn everyday boring objects into cool and different presents. People tend to appreciate handmade gifts more and as a bonus, you get to save a some funds. Besides, recycling is cool and good for the environment.
– Give a gift card. Want to spend a very specific amount and not sure what to give? Nothing in the shops feels just right? Well, stick to your budget by simply giving a gift card from a store you know your loved ones shop at. Basically, you get them “the perfect gift” and they do the actual shopping (which can be fun). Just don’t be too stingy or you will look like a total cheapskate.
7. Give Yourself as a Gift
We all have skills and talents which we use for ourselves. Maybe it is cooking, fixing things or maybe some fancy professional skills. Giving others access to your professional skills for free will cost you little other than your time. And it can save your friends and family a bundle. As a bonus, you get to spend time with someone who you care about while at the same time letting them see how good you are. So wrap yourself up this holiday season and give the gift of YOU.
Plan Well and Have Fun
We all enjoy a nice relaxing break. Having fun is important for our mental wellbeing but enjoying it should not come at the expense of your financial wellbeing for 2018. These 7 simple savings tips for the holidays can help you manage your finances and will help you cut down on expenses during this coming holiday season. Some smart planning and preperation now can help grant you the gift of a stress free (and debt free) New Year too!
This article was put together with help from the nice folks over at Cyber Finance. They say if you are already stressed out financially and fear that this might be the worst end of year yet then you are welcome to call them and get some advice or help with your finances. You can find them HERE