The holidays are supposed to be a wonderful time for you and your loved ones, although sometimes the stress felt around buying gifts makes it feel quite the opposite. Remember that even if money is a little tight this year, there are ways to enjoy yourself and survive the holiday crunch.

 

Spending Money

 

Chances are you’ll be spending money on presents this season. According to the National Retail Federation, “A record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday”.  And given the statistics, they aren’t done yet. Shoppers are expected to spend “an average [of] $1,047.83.” which is an increase over last year and the last several years. Your personal average may be higher or lower, but regardless, you’d probably agree that there is room to trim that spending.  With careful planning, you can make a small budget go quite a long way.

 

Consider the following holiday money saving tips:

 

  1. Save Throughout the Year. Most people let the holidays creep up on them. Summer ends and suddenly, they realize it’s two weeks before Thanksgiving. You can’t pull money out of thin air and without a plan you’ll probably end up opening a retail credit card.   If you’ve done this in the past, you know firsthand that you’ll still be paying off last year’s gifts for years to come!

 

  • Automatically withdraw a small amount of money from each paycheck that goes toward your Christmas savings. Those small amounts add up to something big at the end of the year.  Make this a separate account from your main accounts.

 

  1. Shop Early. When you shop early you avoid the crowds and the pressure to make decisions quickly. Start by making a list of gift ideas for everyone. This way, as you see the items throughout the year, you can pick them up. You may even find that they’re cheaper during off-peak times compared to the seasonal rush.
    • Don’t forget gifts for your favorite teachers!

 

  1. Handmade Gifts. If money is extra tight this year, consider giving your loved ones handmade gifts. Handmade gifts are from the heart. They’ll provide memories that last a lifetime and are important reminders that the holiday season is not just about spending money.
    • A little research is needed. Shop early and buy in bulk.  Keep an eye out in the circular or through phone apps for the best coupons.

 

  1. Shop for Deals. Do your homework when it comes to shopping for deals. Prices can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. Luckily, the internet allows you to comparison shop quickly and easily from the comfort of your own home.

 

  • While you’re shopping online, always remember to stay safe. If you haven’t heard of the website you’re purchasing from, make sure that you’re shopping on a secure server. Also check the validity of the company and any buyer reviews and opinions.  Double check the contact details for the store, shipping times and return policies.
  • Even legitimate websites can be compromised. Try using Google Transparency Report to check:  https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search

 

Planning Your Budget

 

Whether or not you’ve saved throughout the year, it’s always a good idea to put yourself on a well regimented spending plan. Give yourself a total dollar amount and then decide how much you’ll spend on each person. If you need money for entertaining, decorating, food, or other things, budget for that as well.

 

Remember to check in with yourself before and after each shopping trip to make sure that you remain within your spending plan. While it may seem like additional work, it’ll save you time and money from dealing with big credit card bills in the new year.

 

Dealing With Stress

 

If the stress of the holidays has gotten you down, you’re not alone. It’s not fun to have to deal with the financial aspect, but it’ll help to keep the reward in mind.

 

If you’ve spent your money well, and your family is happy, you’ve done your job. Even if you don’t buy everything you wish you had, it’s okay. Remember that you can’t place a price tag on great memories. Be grateful for all that you have— especially the little things.