It’s hard to resist buying that shiny, new, expensive thing for a loved one (or ourselves, let’s be honest) and a month later, curse ourselves when the credit card bill rolls in. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way! With a little planning and recognizing what’s really important about the holidays, staying in the black can be a little easier.
Here are five tips for keeping to a reasonable budget while still making the holidays merry.
1. Determine Who Needs Gifts
Here’s a little secret: Your family will still love you if you don’t buy them all extravagant gifts. You may even have family members who either won’t expect a gift or would be fine with something small that just shows thought.
Make a list of your family members who fit into this category. You may have to manage expectations, as well. Let your family know in advance if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford grandiose offerings.
You might be able to apply some gift-giving homogenization and give a single gift that everyone could use, such as an escape room experience, go-kart racing, or other group activities.
2. Pay for Gifts With Cash
Using credit cards is awesome. You get rewards, you defer payments to later dates, you get perks like private lounges at airports; they’re just great. Except that they’re designed to make you spend more because you don’t think about just how much stuff you’re buying.
When you set your gift budget, take it out in cash. Also, set amounts you want to spend on each family member. Don’t just take the wad of cash shopping! That way, you don’t exceed the budget for one person and take it out of the budget for someone else.
3. Take Advantage of Coupons and Rebates
Companies don’t mind offering rebates. Do you know why? Because most people will never take advantage of them. Buck that trend and become a smart spender.
Before you purchase that perfect gift, scour the web and your newspaper for coupons. You can also download browser extensions like Honey that automatically try coupon codes at checkout.
4. Make Gifts
Making gifts might have a negative stigma in your mind. “You mean like a macaroni art?” you might think to yourself. No, the gifts you create can show forethought and creativity.
Are you a good writer? Create a personalized poem or story for each family member. Are you a graphic designer? Make some epic Christmas cards and print them yourself. The fruits of your labor will be just as appreciated as something store-bought.
5. Use Sales Before and After the Holidays
Yes, you should be watching for excellent Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals every year, but you also need to pay attention to sales after the holiday season is over. Stores are trying to dump inventory and will slash prices on items.
Some gifts will be just as exciting to receive next year as they will be this year. Running shoes aren’t going to go out of style, guitars will play just as beautifully, and a big screen TV is just as big no matter when you buy it. Just make sure you have enough space to store it all.
Bonus idea: if you’re going to be shopping for the the holidays, considering using a rebate or cash back site. They’re typically a good way to get between 1% an 20% back depending on what you’re shopping for. For example, Rebate Fanatic is has 4.5% back on North Face backpacks,
Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.