5 STEPS TO HELP YOU SAVE MONEY FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, maybe not quite yet, but the holidays are right around the corner! And while we love the parties and festivities as much as the next person, we’re also well aware that the holidays can get a bit expensive.
That’s why we’ve compiled five steps to help you save money during the holidays. Financial stress and overwhelm should never overshadow the fun and joy of the holiday season. Follow these tips and set yourself up for financial success come December:
1. SET A BUDGET
Experts agree that the best way to save money is to set and follow a budget. It’s the very first step in achieving financial success. To set your budget for the holidays, begin by reviewing last year’s expenses. Did you establish a budget? Did you stick to it? What were some anticipated expenses? What caught you by surprise?
After you evaluate last year’s spending, consider your priorities for this holiday season. How many people are on your gift list? Will you be traveling or incurring any additional expenses? Ask yourself these questions to help you begin thinking about your finances. Once you have a realistic idea of how much you’ll need to spend, set your budget accordingly. It’s also helpful to determine a gift price limit. This will help you stay on target.
2. GET EXTRA MONEY
An ideal way to save money for the holidays is to generate additional income. There are many things you can do to bring in some extra cash. Consider dog walking, babysitting, housesitting, or working in retail as a way to supplement your finances. Take some time to go through your personal items. You’d be surprised how much money you’d be able to make by selling items you no longer use.
Looking for a way to generate money without having to complete additional work? There are several things you can do that will slowly but surely add more money to your bank account. Purchasing a savings plan is an easy way to start. You’ll receive access to exclusive discounts and deals and enjoy perks like dining and grocery store coupons. This is a simple way to put more cash in your pocket come the holidays.
Another money-saving strategy is to set up an automatic savings account. Many banks have automatic savings options that easily transfer money into a separate account as a way to build your savings. For example, Wells Fargo has the Way2Save savings account plan that allows you to set up automatic transfers every time you use your debit card. Research to see if your bank has a similar option.
3. REDUCE YOUR EXPENSES
Cutting back your expenses will also result in more money for your holiday budget. Take a look at your expenses and see if there is anything you can reduce or eliminate. Sometimes small purchases add up in big ways. Pack your lunch, make your coffee at home, host a potluck dinner with friends instead of going out to eat. It’s easier than you think to find excess expenses to cut.
Now is also a good time to negotiate lower bills. Call up your cable provider and see if they’d be willing to lower your bill- or better yet, cut cable altogether. Make an effort to lower your heating bill. Find ways to cut back on expenses and watch as the dollars add up.
4. PLAN OUT YOUR GIFTS
There are many things you can do to make your gifts less expensive this year. If you’re buying individual gifts for members of a group, suggest a Secret Santa gift exchange. You’ll still be participating in the holidays, but it will help everyone save money. Other ideas? Go DIY and make your own gifts.
No matter what your strategy is, it’s important to start preparing now. If you begin your gift process early, you’ll be able to find better discounts and deals. Thoroughly research expensive items to find the best prices. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy your gifts. Thoughtful planning and research will save you a ton of money in the long run.
5. TRACK YOUR EXPENSES
Now that your budget is in place, you have to do the hard part and actually stick to it! Track your expenses and check in weekly to make sure you’re staying on target. The simple act of monitoring will motivate you to follow your budget.
Create a spreadsheet, review your bank statements, or input your expenses into a budgeting software. Find a system that works for you and use it. Check in every single day to make sure you’re following your budget. Your bank account will thank you later.
The holidays can be an expensive time for all of us. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to our finances and find ourselves in panic mode come January 1st. But by following the above steps, you’ll be able to save money for the holidays and feel proud of your determination and fortitude.