Sunday, October 21, 2018

Enjoy the Holiday Season Without Breaking the Bank

While the holiday season is considered to be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most expensive. From Halloween costumes to Christmas gifts to New Year's parties, this time of year can cost a pretty penny. 

Holiday Season

If you are looking to get through the end of the year without blowing all your savings, there are some key money-saving techniques that will protect your bank account without dampening your holiday cheer. Keep reading for 7 ways to save money this holiday season.

1. Party Inexpensively

If it’s your turn to host the office get-together or family holiday reunion, you may be expecting to spend a fortune on food and decorations. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep your costs down. 

The first area to save is on invitations. Rather than sending paper invites through the mail, send your invitations through email. This will also make it more convenient for people to RSVP so you can plan ahead and not buy too many supplies. 

Consider having an alcohol-free party and instead offer coffee, hot cocoa, and tea. If this isn't an option, have a BYOB bash and set up a stylish bar with glassware and drink mixers. And remember, holiday decorations don’t have to be expensive. Opt for basic Christmas holiday lights, balloons, confetti, and inexpensive ornaments. 

2. Make Travel Plans Ahead of Time

Airfare is known to skyrocket the closer it gets to the holiday season. Making your plans ahead of time will ensure that you spend the lowest amount possible. If your travel dates are flexible, consider celebrating the holiday a little early or a little late. This will help you avoid the busiest and most expensive travel days.

If you plan to take a trip to see friends and family, stay someone’s guest room rather than a hotel. This will save you money and give you more time with your loved ones.

Rather than flying, consider a road trip. If time allows, driving to your destination will be cheaper than flying and will allow you to skip the chaos of airports during the holiday season. Plus, cars with more cargo space allow you to bring as many bags as you want. 

3. Cut Back on Daily Expenses

The holiday season is the time of year to spend less money on yourself so you can shop for others. Try to cut your personal spending in half so you don’t have to stress when it comes time to go holiday shopping.

When determining where you can save, evaluate your spending. Take a break from Starbucks and pack your lunch instead of eating out. Be more aware of your grocery shopping habits and use coupons whenever possible.

To really track your spending, give your credit cards a rest and use cash throughout the holiday season. This will keep you accountable for how much you are spending on a day to day basis.

4. Make a Shopping List

Before you go online or step into stores for your holiday shopping, make sure you've created a concise list of who you are shopping for and what you would like to get them. This will stop you from making impulse purchases or spending more than you had expected. Not only will this save you money, it’ll also save you time.

5. Keep a Budget

As the holiday season approaches, create a clear budget that will carry you through the new year. Include your normal expenditures such as rent, utilities, and food, and create special categories for travel, gifts, costumes, and parties.

Before you spend a penny on holiday-related activities, make sure you know exactly what your budget is and do your best to stick to it. If unexpected expenses arise, try to save in other areas so you can stay on track.

6. Save on Gifts

Gift giving can be one of the most expensive parts of the holiday season. This year, rather than giving pricey store-bought gifts, consider giving experiences instead. Buy a coupon online and take your loved ones out to dinner. Give homemade gifts such as hand-knit scarves or a large batch of Christmas cookies. 

Another great way to save is by giving used gifts. This doesn't necessarily mean scouring thrift stores for hours on end or giving gifts of lower quality. Online resources such as Craigslist, eBay, and the Facebook marketplace are full of great used gift options available for a fraction of the price.

7. Start an Inexpensive Tradition

One of the best parts of the holiday season is all the time spent with your loved ones. Save money and create a special tradition by planning a friends and family pumpkin carving night. Gather a group of people to go sledding, build snowmen, or have a snowball fight. If you live in a warmer climate, pack your favorite holiday foods and have an outdoor picnic and bonfire.

Follow these tips and your holiday bills are sure to be lower than they were last year. At the end of the holiday season, make a record of all your spending so you can accurately budget in the future. And don’t forget to get a head start for next year by buying everything on discount.

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