Surviving The Holidays On A Budget
I firmly believe that if we only started talking about saving for the holidays in November, it would already be too late. Why? Because one of the easiest ways to save on holiday gifts is to start early. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck or are on a tight budget, preparing for holiday shopping & getting it done in advance can ensure your finances aren't completely thrown off course in December. Based on what I've learned from my own habits (and from observing people with far superior shopping skills), I think it's safe to say that if there are still leaves on the trees still everywhere when you’re starting your shopping for the winter holidays, you are more likely to ring in 2017 without credit card debt. Here are 5 thrifty tips to help you survive holiday shopping without wreaking havoc on your budget.
1. Space out your Christmas purchases.
If you do all of your holiday shopping in one day, it’s going to be a ridiculously expensive day. Don’t let your bank account take the hit all at once. If you don’t feel like you can save the full amount to cover one big day of shopping, give yourself a week or two in between each gift purchase. Look at your finances to determine how much you can afford to spend every two weeks on gifts so you can self-impose that budget. Not only this but with having a newborn/or having a little one you all know how expensive having a bub's can be. Budgeting is a new favorite. WIPE OUT THE SPREADSHEETS.
2. Start before the prices start to fluctuate.
I learned this trick years ago but never really stood by it. I just was reintroduced to this by a friend of mine who shops all year round & actually as a closet she called "The Gift Closet". She really enjoys giving. Prices around the holidays aren’t necessarily guaranteed to rise or fall on a specific day (other than pre-determined sales). A lot of the price increases depend on supply & demand. If retailers have items that aren’t flying off the shelves, they might dip in price around the second week of December, but if a product is in high demand, the price could jump. Starting early allows you to get a jump start. This brings me to Black Friday... Oh the lovely day of Consumerism. BUT Let's be real we all love good sales & Black Friday is a great opportunity to save a couple loonies.
3. Decide on the buys or experiences you want to give everyone, and then compare prices on often-discounted sites.
Make a list of everyone you need to shop for, & then write down the corresponding gift you want to buy them. If it’s a product like clothes or games, check Amazon, or on online retailer who carries. Scope the scene for the best deal before purchasing in person. If you are buying experiential gifts for people, price compare on sites Groupon. If you’re buying your someone a month membership to hot yoga, spin glass, or hell, just a nice dinner for two. Check Groupon. You could spend the full $100 or you could spend $60 & save.
4 Make a list of everyone you want to shop for, and how much (approx) you want to spend on each person.
It’s perfectly okay to admit that you don’t want to spend as much on your high school best friend as you do on your in-laws. The sooner you set a price limit for each person on your list, the sooner you can pin down what you’d like to get them. If you are shopping for someone without a price direction, you’re much more apt to overspend.
5 Abandon holiday guilt. (My Husband is bad for this)
While admittedly, this is the least specific budgeting technique, letting yourself off the hook guilt-wise really can save you money during the holidays. Just like you can’t stay friends with everyone you went to elementary school with, you can’t buy presents for everyone you’ve encountered in the last year. There is no requirement for how many people you have to shop for, and giving presents among friend groups and coworker circles is not required. You do not have to buy for your friends kids. Especially if they have multiple. Stop with the guilt!