If you’ve looked at your calendar lately, you’ll notice that the holiday season is upon us! Radio stations, shopping malls and your neighborhood stores are playing holiday music. Lights and trees are up all around us, and candy, flashy advertisements, and Santa displays are out in full force. For most of us, the holiday season stirs up sentiments of nostalgia, wonderment and peace. But underneath it all may be a little bit of anxiety related to your pocketbook.
We go into this season with the best of intentions to spend less money than last year, or to use our credit cards less—even trying creative methods by purchasing our gifts early. But, like last year, and the years prior, we often end up spending more than we had set out to. Here are a few helpful hints that will hopefully allow you to save a few dollars this season while still embracing the sentiments of the holiday.
Shop with Intent
It may be fun to wander around the malls this time of year but that unfocused behavior frequently leads to impulse buys. You may want to take in all the specials and events that take place this time of year, but instead of purchasing on the spot, bring along a notebook or smartphone to take notes on the items you wish to purchase later. Follow Santa’s lead and make a list. If you need to buy for 10 people, make a list with their names and potential gift options for them. That way, when you are out shopping, you have some guidelines to follow instead of blindly buying random gifts.
Do Your Homework
Yes, the holidays are supposed to be fun and joyful, but doing a little bit of extra work beforehand will save you money in the long-run. Once you’ve made your list of potential gifts, look them up online. You may be able to get deals by shopping online, or find a store that has your item for a lower price than the competitor’s. Look through flyers (both online and via post) for deals and compare prices. Make sure to write down the store names next to the gifts on your list for an easy reference.
Set Personal Boundaries
If you have a strict budget for gifts this year, make sure you stick to it. Setting boundaries and limits is important if you wish to stay within budget. It is, of course, the season of giving, but you shouldn’t attempt to bankrupt yourself in the process. Your detailed list should help you in sticking to your budget and establishing boundaries.
Another way to help you is to establish a time line for when you want to your shopping to be completed. Set aside a couple of days to shop for everything and everyone on your list. Once you’ve completed your shopping, refrain from going to the malls if you can. That way, you’ll eliminate the possible temptation of buying one more gift or experiencing buyer’s remorse over the gifts you’ve already purchased.
Think Outside the Gift-box
Though most people think it is expected of them to purchase gifts from stores, making your gifts or buying handcrafted items from a craft fair or market may be more economical and add a special touch. A gift certificate to a spa or restaurant, personalized gift baskets, and engraved items are also good ideas that can be tailored to suit any budget. For the earth-friendly, budget-friendly consumers, use your old newspapers or simple brown packing paper to wrap your gifts. Not only will it save you money, but you will save a few extra trees in the process. Creativity, in this case, is a thrifty ally.
All in all, the holiday season is ultimately about giving, sharing, and spending time with those you love. Gift-giving has become a major part of the experience. Using a few of these simple tips will help get you through the merriment with change to spare.