It’s all too easy to overspend on the holidays. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s, there are gifts, parties, new clothes, and food and drink to consider—all while getting swept up in the excitement of it all.
According to the National Retail Federation, US consumers were expected to spend a massive $166.9 billion this holiday season inspired by friends, neighbors and celebrities on social media.
Everyone wants to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest, but you don’t want a January comedown that includes worrying about your finances. Luckily, there are lots of ways to celebrate in style without breaking the bank.
Create a (realistic) budget
Don’t decide on an arbitrary number and make that your budget. Go back over what you spent last year and create a true-to-life picture of your expenses. Factor in any changes in lifestyle in the past year, such as getting married, buying a house or the birth of a new child. Once you have a real view on what you will spend, you can start looking for places to curb your costs.
Suggest doing Secret Santa with family, friends and co-workers
Only having to buy one gift stretches your money further and eliminates a lot of the stress around holiday shopping. It’s especially perfect for large gatherings where you don’t want to buy for everyone but don’t want anyone to feel left out.
Use your phone to save money
If you see that must-have item in a store, price check it on your phone to see if it’s cheaper somewhere else. You can also use your phone and search engines to find promo codes for many retailers. A lot of stores also have price-match policies that you can use.
Homemade gifts and decorations are often the most cherished and appreciated. Children love arts and crafts, so making decorations not only saves money, but creates festive memories for everyone.
Give your time
Offer to babysit the kids so your brother can have a night out with his wife, clean out the garage for your elderly parents or grandparents, or volunteer at your local soup kitchen. Time and consideration are often the greatest gift.
Don’t wait until the last minute
The early bird catches the worm, and this is especially true when it comes to doing holiday shopping early. The longer you wait, the more retailers can jack up prices. Make a November resolution to get all your shopping done early this year.
Rotate hosting duties
Hosting can get expensive—food, beverages, party favors, and decorations. If you do Christmas Eve, let someone else take on New Year’s Eve. This works especially well for family gatherings. If you are hosting, be sure to buy in bulk—wine, canapes, chips and dip.
Cut or freeze other expenses for the duration of the holiday season
If you’re traveling or just not motivated, see if you can freeze your gym membership for the month of December. Likewise with other expenditures like MealPal, kids activities, cable and so on.
Remember we’re all in the same boat
Everyone overspends on the holidays. There’s a good chance that if you suggest a way to save money, everyone will be delighted. This includes setting limits on what you spend on gifts for each other or encouraging everyone in the family to make a dessert or side dish.
Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.