Do you remember the first week into this year when the holiday bills started coming in? How did you do? Did you blow up your budget?
The holidays can come with a hefty monetary commitment. From the specialty foods you need for your holiday meals to the holiday cards and gifts, the numbers can add up quickly and, for some, unexpectedly. Don’t fret, with a little financial foresight and some ingenuity, you can still have a wonderful Christmas holiday at a fraction of the cost.
We have assembled a list of tried and true holiday budget tips to help ease the burden on your bank account this season and seasons to come.
Create a Budget and Start Saving Early in the Year
Usually by mid-year, you’ll have a good idea of what the people in your family (especially the kids) want for Christmas, so putting together a Christmas gift budget shouldn’t be too hard come May or June. Go to your bank and ask about a Santa Savers’ account or open a special checking account so you can start socking away money towards Christmas gifts and expenses. A small diversion from each paycheck into one of these special accounts will add up quickly, giving you the funds you need to get gifts for everyone on your list. Another added benefit of early financial preparation is that you can increase or decrease your budget as is foreseeably necessary.
Shop Discounts, Early Sales and Online
By starting a Christmas Shopping Savings fund earlier in the year, you will have the money to take advantage of discounts and sales on the items you are looking for throughout the year. Off-season sales are great sources for winter seasonal gifts such as snowboard gear, winter clothes and more. You may find better deals on summer gear as fall wains to winter, as well.
Other great deals can be found online by signing up for daily deal newsletters such as Brad’s Deals, Deal News, Living Social or Groupon. If you’re looking for electronics’ sales, sign up for email blasts from Newegg.com, Tigerdirect.com or Bestbuy.com. Check Amazon.com for deals on all kinds of items, especially if you’re a Prime member. To make it easier to find the items you want at a price you’re willing to pay, many of the online retailers will allow you to set up a price alert. Most retailers have email newsletters that you can sign up to get the jumpstart on sales. Starting your Christmas shopping earlier in the year allows you to spread out the cost over several months’ vs. paying out all of that money in a rather short period of time.
If You’re Traveling for the Holidays – Planes, Trains or Automobiles
Plan your trip early, set up alerts on airline and travel websites to notify you of deals and sales for the dates you are looking to travel. Some of the best times to purchase airline tickets are within 8-4 weeks prior to your trip. You can also find great last-minute deals is to sign up for airline email list directly. To get the best deal on train tickets, book your tickets at last 12 weeks ahead of your travel date. If you’re traveling by car, checkout group discount sites such as Living Social or Groupon for oil change or maintenance deals to get your car road worthy for your trip. For the cheapest gas at the time of your trip, apps like Gas Buddy can help you find the best deal per gallon in your vicinity.
Create or Bake Your Own Gifts
With such incredible online creative and culinary resources such as Pinterest, do-it-yourselfers have unfettered access to any number of DIY gift ideas and holiday baked goods. Homemade gifts have sentimental meaning and, if you’re planning on making multiples of the same thing, can be extremely affordable to make if you buy your supplies in bulk. Making homemade gifts is also a great way to get the entire family involved for some creative or culinary fun!
Bartering Skills for Gifts
So you can make a killer baked goods and your neighbor is an excellent photographer? Why not trade skills and have a professional family portrait taken in exchange for some homemade mini-Bundt cakes that your photographer friend could give to his or her clients as gifts? Trading talents is an age-old tradition that can be surprisingly inexpensive for each party. Talk to someone you know with a particular talent that you would like to do some trade with.
Take a Year Off from Giving Gifts
If your budget has no room for gift giving this year, talk to your family about it. Make alternate plans to spend some time together instead. Or, perhaps, talk about giving “services” as gifts to one another. Mom’s always love getting shoulder massages or foot rubs. Dad’s like to have some extra help out in the yard or in the garage. Kid’s like it when you sit down with them and partake in a creative endeavor such as model building, drawing or playing make-believe. With whatever amount of money you’ve saved for the holiday, plan out your family’s favorite meal and prepare a feast. Follow that up with a movie from Redbox (less than $2.00 per rental) and make up a huge bowl of popcorn for some quality holiday family time. This generally works better when the kids are older and less materialistic.
Get Some Fast Christmas Cash
If you tried to budget but it didn’t work out as you had planned, you’re not that great in the kitchen or don’t feel that you have a particular skill that is worthy of bartering; there are still plenty of options available to you.
Sort through your stuff to see if there are things you no longer use that might be of some value to another. You’d be surprised what you can sell on the used market and how many outlets you have to sell your used items.
- Garage or Yard Sales
- Your local Craigslist
- Your local newspaper and more!
If you have nothing to get rid of, don’t fret. There is always the option of taking out easy personal loans. Companies like CASH 1 offer Personal Installment Loans in Nevada for $100-$1,500 and, if you hold the title to your vehicle, look into a CASH 1 Auto Title Loan in Arizona or Nevada, up to $50,000 cash today. Even if you don’t hold your title, CASH 1 Arizona can help you with a Title Equity Loan. Both an Auto Title Loan and a Title Equity Loan allow you to keep your car while you repay the loan and CASH 1 has the lowest rates around.