Financial IQFeatured December 02 2019

12 Days of Savings

The holidays are now upon us, and each year you might find yourself a bit unprepared for the inevitable spike in your spending habits in the months of November and December. From family meals, travel, gifts, and social outings, the holidays are one of the most expensive times of the year. We have compiled some tips to help you spend mindfully during this holiday season.

Cook holiday dinners at home

As you plan for holiday meals, consider preparing food at home. Dining out with extended family during the holidays can get expensive. According to Forbes, it can cost five times more to dine out compared to eating at home. Save some money by planning all the holiday meals at home. You can find deals on meat at your local grocery stores and cook a 5-star meal in your own kitchen! Or suggest a potluck amongst family and friends.

Suggest a Secret Santa

Buying a gift for each person in the family adds up. Suggest a Secret Santa gift exchange instead for your gathering. Draw names from a hat or use an online randomizer to assign the recipients. This way, each person gets something they want, and you don’t break the bank buying 20 gifts for extended family.

Make a homemade gift

A homemade gift is a wonderful choice to not only save your hard-earned money but to create a more sentimental gift. Consider using your hidden talents – knitting, sewing, wood carving, writing, drawing, music, photography, etc. – to create a memorable and unique gift. Not only will you save money, but you will also gift a special and personalized item.

For larger gifts - look for 0% financing options

The holidays are the perfect time to make that big purchase – new furniture, electronics, or appliances. There are sales and discounts everywhere you turn, but you don’t want to spend your entire holiday budget on one gift. If you didn’t save the entire amount for these big-ticket items, consider choosing a store that offers a feasible timeline for zero percent financing.

Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Chances are, you can knock out your entire gift list in two days – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Whether you like to stand in line for the newest tech and toys or hunt for the best online deals, you can utilize the numerous discounts offered on these days.

Use coupons

Search online for promo codes before completing your online purchase and utilize coupon mailers and email offers. Even if you don’t do your shopping during the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, you can still take advantage of the many other holiday discounts!

Look for airline deals for holiday travel

Flying or driving to visit relatives for the holidays can get expensive – especially if you have a big family. Keep an eye out for airline and rental car deals to save you money on travel. Try to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, as those are the least expensive travel days according to U.S. News. Compare different sites and airlines to find the best deal.

Make a list, set a budget, and stick to it

If you tend to go a little crazy during the holidays – especially for gifts for kids and grandkids – you’ll want to follow this holiday savings rule: Set a max budget for all your gifts, travel, and food for the holidays. Make a list of items for gifts, travel needs, and food/drink items along with their prices, so there are no surprises when your credit card bill hits in January.

Utilize a budgeting app to track spending

Download a budgeting app to monitor holiday spending. You can set a budget for certain categories and check often to ensure that you are staying within your means. You can even check your app quickly WHILE shopping, so you don’t accidentally overspend at the store. Use this in lieu of or in conjunction with an organized list.

Host a clothes swap party for holiday clothing/dresses

There are already so many items to purchase during the holiday season, so why add this extra expense to the mix? Instead of purchasing new outfits for each holiday meal and gathering, host a clothes swap party with friends to snag some new {well, new to you!} holiday pieces for your wardrobe.

Make your coffee & lunch at home

This tip is a great way to cut spending year-round, but sometimes we forget how much we can save. Skip the Starbucks every morning this month and pack a lunch to eat at work. You’ll instantly add an extra cushion for that upcoming holiday spending.

Nix expensive social outings

Instead of planning social outings at restaurants & bars, movie theaters, ice skating, etc., opt for some holiday activities at home for the month. Host a movie night or game night, bake holiday cookies, or host a party at your house. Your bank account will thank you at the end of the month for going easy on it.

Sources:

Forbes

U.S. News

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