Holidays are here, which means spending time with the family, eating good food, enjoying the cooler weather, and spending a ton of money on gifts.
…wait, what? The holidays are not about spending money! If you’re on a tight budget, or you prefer to live more frugally and minimalist (like myself), the holidays don’t have to be a time of financial stress.
So instead of the 12 days of Christmas, I’ll share with you my 12 tips to help you decrease your spending and save more money this holiday season.
1.Plan your gift giving way ahead of time.
Don’t feel like you are late to the game because you haven’t done this yet. You still have time! Planning ahead versus just walking up and down the aisles will help to decrease the likeliness of you to impulse buy. Write down a list of all the people you plan on buying a gift for, the gift you plan on purchasing for them, and how much you approximate that the gift will cost. This leads me to my next tip…
2. Budget your money for the gifts that you decide to buy.
After you make your list of gifts and an approximate total of how much all the gifts will cost, look at your budget and see what areas you can pull from to fund these gifts. Maybe this holiday season you spend less at Starbucks and cook at home a little more, and use that coffee shop and restaurant money to go towards your holiday budget.
3. Pay for your gifts with cash only.
By paying with cash only, this will allow you to tangibly see how much money you’re spending on holiday gifts. This will also prevent you from spending money that you don’t have. This is extremely helpful for people that don’t pay their credit card bill in full every month and for people who carry consumer debt. But this is also helpful for people who tend to impulse buy and not keep track of their money.
4. If you are a responsible credit card user, pay for your gifts with credit cards that offer your rewards points or cash back.
This doesn’t necessarily save you money at the forefront, but by using your credit card, you can earn rewards points or cash back for your purchase. I only recommend this to people who are able to pay off their credit card bill in full every month, and for people who have no consumer debt. Consider signing up for a new credit card ASAP to get a chance at a spending bonus! I would recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Capital One Venture, which both have great bonuses right now.
5. Buy your gifts crazy in advanced, or wait for a major sale such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Some people do all their holiday shopping months before, which is a great tactic if you can plan that far ahead. If not, take advantage of holiday sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On these days, businesses tend to really slash down the prices for big ticket items, which can save you a lot of money.
6. Price compare and see if you can find the same item for cheaper at another store.
I love doing this! For example, if I’m in Best Buy and I see some headphones that I want, I’ll bust out my phone and check Amazon/Target/Walmart to see if it’s cheaper. If it is, I’ll find an associate and show them the cheaper price and barter to have it sold to me from their company at that lower price. Otherwise, I’ll leave the store and purchase my item with another company. It’s a win-win situation: you get the item for cheaper no matter what, and the company that accepts your offer has made money off of you.
7. If you are traveling, buy your transportation tickets for off travel days.
I recommend buying your ticket at least a couple months in advanced for your holiday travel. Unfortunately, after Halloween, that’s when domestic travel flights tend to spike. Look to fly on less popular days, such as Christmas Eve. Also consider flying at times that most people don’t like to travel, such as taking a red eye. With Christmas Day being on a Saturday this year, expect flights on Sunday December 26 to be more expensive.1In general, flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday seem to be cheaper than Fridays or Sundays.2
8. Opt for gifting your time or a DIY item instead of buying a gift.
No, you don’t have to go and make chore coupon books like you used to do for your parents when you were a kid. But a heartfelt letter with a plan to go on a hike or cook a meal together can go a long way. If you are crafty, make something from the heart that will show your love for them, without breaking the bank.
9. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to gift exchanges.
This one can be difficult, especially if this is a tradition in your family during the larger family gatherings. In Episode 184 from Jen and Jill at Frugal Friends Prodcast, they talk about how saying “No, Thank You” can go a long way. I think we forget how much our wording of things can really help us in awkward situations. Remembering your manners and politely declining something that you don’t value may gain you more respect than you think.
10. Disclose to your family and friends that you do not plan on giving material gifts this year.
This may be a little intimidating, but by being open about why you have decided not to give material gifts will help them to be more understanding. When I told my family why I decided to do this, as I wanted to promote the value of material minimalism in gift giving, and spending more time with them is what I valued over material gifts, they were very understanding. In fact, they appreciated that I chose to not give material gifts, and now they ask me how to be more minimalist!
11. Instead of buying multiple gifts for each person in your family or friend group, offer to do a Secret Santa or White Elephant style of gift giving.
This might be tougher if your family traditionally gives a gift to each member. But hey, you miss all the shots you don’t take. See what they have to say, and you may be surprised at how many of your other family members will be thrilled that you would like to do this instead.
12. Make sure that you are not going against your values for this time of year.
Remember what you value, and don’t let the holiday season make you feel like you have to go against your values. Yes, it may take some creativity and planning ahead to make sure you can stay aligned with your values this holiday season. But knowing that you stayed true to yourself, will guarantee you a happy and joyous holiday season.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! And if you are having trouble with your personal finances during this time, click here to sign up for your FREE 20 minute consult with me, and let’s work together to figure out a plan to help you on your personal finance journey!
Note: I am not a certified financial advisor/planner or a certified financial analyst or a CPA or an accountant or a lawyer. Remember, I am an allied health professional, just like you! This website/blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please consult with your financial advisor(s) regarding your personal finance, investment, and tax matters.
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