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How to Lower Holiday Spending

October 18, 2019

Stay thrifty while keeping the holiday spirit

Holiday spending is often a budget-buster. The expenses can be numerous: presents, wrapping paper, cards, decorations, food, and travel, to name a few; and very few people have an unlimited holiday budget. If you don’t have the funds to buy everything you want, not to worry. A little bit of creativity and energy can get you through the holidays without draining your wallet.


Homemade Gifts

If you have the skills, making your own gifts is a great way to save, since supplies usually cost less than the finished product. Not only are homemade gifts cheaper, but many people appreciate them more than store-bought gifts because of the effort that goes into making them.

Not an experienced crafter? Write a letter or make a collage representing what the person means to you, or frame a memorable photo. If you can bake, standard cookies or brownies can be dressed up with sprinkles and ribbons in holiday colors. You can find great ideas on sites like YouTube or Pinterest. 

Offering your services is another great cost-saving gift, since it only costs time. Offer a free night of babysitting, or a month of lawn-mowing. Create a coupon the recipient can redeem at a later date.


Give the Gift of an Experience

Plan an outing with your family members or friends instead of a gift exchange. Everyone pays their own way, and you can keep the experience as simple and fun as the group’s budget can handle. Outdoor activities, or a local play or museum are a few examples. If you don’t want to strain anyone’s expenses, have a cozy potluck gathering at home. Remember to take fun photos, which can make great framed gifts in the future.


Gift-wrapping

People underestimate the cost of wrapping gifts. Skip the fancy wrapping paper and bows, and find alternatives. Newspaper (especially the comic section) can work, as can computer paper, or paper shopping bags. Use inexpensive craft supplies, such as glitter, paint, or pattern stamps, to add decorative touches.


Cards

Store-bought cards can cost $4 or more each. Sending them to 20 people would cost you $80, not including postage! Create your own cards using simple supplies, or create and send cards electronically to avoid additional costs. Make your own or use one of the many free services online. If you want to send physical cards, consider trimming your mailing list to save, or hand delivering them for a personal touch.  


Decorations

Save on store-bought decorations by seeing what you can use from around the house. Make a garland out of popcorn, and use local natural supplies like pine cones and acorns. To save on store-bought decorations, plan ahead for next year and only buy them after the holidays, when they’re at a deep discount. Garage or yard sales and thrift shops are also a great place to find discounted seasonal decorations throughout the year.


Food

If you host holiday dinners or parties, you may find yourself spending significant money on food. Potluck dinners are an easy way to shift some of the burden of buying all of the food yourself. If you don’t want to ask your guests to bring food, consider options like eliminating a full dinner and having only appetizers and desserts. Shop for less expensive food, available in some bulk-food stores.


Travel

Airfare is generally more expensive during the holidays, since that is when everyone flies. To save, consider having a “holiday” dinner during an off-peak time of the year, when airfare is cheaper. Whenever you do fly, being flexible can usually help you save; you probably won’t have to spend as much if you fly at night or have a layover.


You can have a great holiday season without spending a great deal of money. Be creative with your purchasing and avoid straining your finances, so you can celebrate during the holidays, and afterward as well. Still need some assistance with your seasonal finances? Start by learning about a Holiday Loan.
 

Learn More: Holiday Loan
 

Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness

Posted in: Holiday Loan

5 Steps to Creating and Staying True to a Holiday Budget

October 18, 2019

Enjoy the holidays by planning ahead

The holidays are a time for seasonal cheer, catching up with family, and for some—financial panic.
If you recently looked at the calendar and realized gift-buying season is closer than you thought, don’t worry. You can organize your finances by making an effective budget. Follow these 5 steps to better avoid going into debt this season.


1. List All of Your Expenses

Are you buying presents for everyone? Hosting a party? Attending a holiday concert or event? Write a list of everything you intend to spend money on (and how much each costs), then prioritize. You don’t have to cross anything off just yet, but make a mental note of which items are more important.


2. Set a Limit

Next, review your income and any money you’ve set aside for holiday expenses. Your goal is to figure out what you can afford without going into debt. If you have to dip into your savings, make sure to keep a cushion for any emergency costs that might come up. Now you can decide which expenses are important, and which ones can be crossed off your list.


3. Research Seasonal Sales

Sales go hand in hand with the holidays. This is when many retailers make a large portion of their annual revenue, so they want to attract as much business as possible. Find the best deals by signing up for email alerts and following brands on social media. You’ll be among the first to find out about those special seasonal sales. Also watch for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.


4. Comparison Shop

Unless you’re searching for a unique gift, your desired item is probably available from multiple retailers. Fortunately, the Internet makes comparison shopping easy, especially during the holidays when every company is trying to compete for your business. Make sure you visit different websites and do some research to find the best deals.


5. Pros and Cons of Payment Methods

Shopping online can make it easier to track your purchases afterward, though spending cash gives you immediate feedback about how much (and how often) money is leaving your wallet. During the holidays, when you’re purchasing many items at once, the cash method helps you realize how much you’re spending, though online shopping gives you an easier way to see all your purchases at a glance. Try using cash for some of your shopping, and see how that affects your budget. You’ll have the chance to shop in person, support local businesses, and possibly reign in some of your impulse purchases.


Follow these simple rules, and keep your holiday spending in check. If you still need some assistance with your seasonal finances, start by learning about a Holiday Loan.
 

Learn More: Holiday Loan
 

Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness

Posted in: Holiday Loan

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