Keep the ho-ho-ho in your holidays with six savvy spending tips.
The holiday season is almost here! Hooray! But is your excitement mixed with anxiety when you think about the ka-ching factor of holiday spending? According to the National Retail Federation, the average U.S. consumer plans to spend more than $1000 during the 2019 holidays — so it’s no surprise if you’re feeling a little worried.
But never fear! We’ve got six great ideas that can keep your spending in check, without missing out on holiday fun.
Tip #1. Set a budget — and stick to it.
According to the Coinstar 2017 Holiday Survey, 65% of Americans started the season with a spending plan, but most of them (77%) promptly blew through their budget. We’re not here to judge, but think how much better you’d feel if you only spent what you could afford. Come up with an amount that works for you, one that you won’t still be paying off as next year's holiday season approaches. Then consider what you’ll need to buy or pay for — from cards and postage to gifts, holiday decorations and entertainment — and divvy up your dollars.
Tip #2. Get your family and friends on board.
It’s hard to spend smart when your kids expect the latest electronics or your best friend insists on buying you an expensive little something. Sit down with your loved ones and discuss what the holidays are really about (you know, love, fellowship and spending time) and that you’d like to tone down the spending and rev up the fun of being together. Your attitude will make a big difference — so sell it!
Tip #3: Start early.
This applies to saving and spending. On the saving front, you still have a few weeks left to stash some cash. And once the holidays wrap, give yourself a New Year’s gift and start to save for next year! On the spending side, discover the benefits of year-round holiday shopping. You’ll save money and hassle and likely come up with better gift ideas. But keep two things in mind: your overall budget (it can be easy to overspend when you’re buying year-round) and where you’ve hidden your gifts (no one wants to come across that oh-so-perfect present for mom in March).
Tip #4. Pay cash.
Put away your credit card and stop spending when the cash is gone. You’ll resist the temptation to buy more than you can afford—especially the temptation to sign up for new credit cards or use more expensive store cards. Of course, this does require commitment and advance planning to get through your shopping list.
Tip #5. Rethink your gift giving.
Who says the best presents only come from the mall or Amazon.com? Homemade gifts can be a great way to stretch your budget and share a little bit of YOU. Or how about the gift of an experience? On the pricier end you could treat your favorite someone to a play, sporting event or fancy dinner. Or plan a special afternoon teaching a friend how to do a craft or bake your Grandma’s famous biscotti.
Tip #6. Take advantage of Free Shipping Day.
On December 14th, many online merchants will offer free shipping with a guarantee of delivery by Christmas Eve. This could take some of the hassle and expense out of last-minute shopping — but make sure you’re not trading “free” shipping for a more expensive price.
Happy holidays and good luck owning your better holiday season!