The holiday season is coming fast upon us, along with many demands on our time (there are just so many cookies to eat, it’s hard to know where to start!), and demands for our money. According to the American Research Group, the average American plans to spend $992 on holiday gifts in 2018…and that’s only on presents! It’s no wonder that we’re all looking for a few extra ideas to stretch our dollars during the holiday season. Don’t forget that time is money, too! Here are ten great tips for saving time and money this holiday season:
Keep a stock of generic gifts on hand. Picture frames, nonperishable gift baskets, or ornaments can help you provide for unexpected guests or holiday party invitations, so you won’t have to rush out and spend an hour looking for parking at the mall so that you can buy presents at top dollar.
Keep it in the family
Join with other friends or family members to purchase big gifts, or give a family gift rather than individual gifts. A special meal for the whole family or a toy that both adults and children can enjoy may be just what Santa ordered.
If you belong to a big family or have lots of friends, suggest drawing names so that each person only has to buy one gift. Or, only give gifts to the children in the family.
Consider the trade-offs
As you shop, remember that your money is limited. If you’ve been saving for a vacation, consider whether you’d like to dip into those funds for a more extravagant holiday season, or whether you’d rather cut back a little during the holidays so you can have fun the rest of the year as well.
Bunch your lunch
To make your holiday shopping more efficient, ask your boss if you can take a longer lunch one day each week during the holiday season, and cut your lunch short the other days to make up for it. That will let you go shopping during the day when the stores are less crowded. This will also let you spend important time with your family at night.
Let your fingers do the shopping
Look for shopping bargains at your favorite Internet sites or at an auction site. There are some sites that do the price comparison for you, so you’ll know you are getting the best deal possible. Shop early to allow extra time for shipping.
Prepare for next year right after the holiday
Buy all of your decorations, gift wrap, and cards for next year at this year’s post-holiday sales.
Shorten your gift list
Is it really necessary to buy everyone on your list a present? Consider sending a thoughtful holiday card or e-mail, or even writing a family newsletter to update everyone about the past year.
Next year, pay Santa first
Set up a holiday savings plan. After paying off this year’s bills, put aside $50 to $100 a month for next year’s holiday presents. You’ll emerge from next year’s holiday rush debt-free.
Decorate on the cheap
Instead of splurging on holiday knickknacks, use your ingenuity to decorate inexpensively. You might buy wide colored velvet ribbon at a craft store and tie bows on everything from doorknobs and banisters to candlesticks.
Want even more great advice on how to save this holiday season? Here are Ten More Ways to Save at Christmas, Five Big-Ticket Items You Shouldn’t Buy During the Holidays, and Holiday Shopping Tips to Keep Your from Breaking the Bank. Are you ready to get your financial life in order for the new year? We think that’s a great resolution! Consider joining a local Money Club to enjoy comraderie, education, and inspiration on your money journey. If there isn’t a club in your area, you can always start your own!