Shopping for everyone on your list, attending all of the holiday parties, and taking in all of the sights and sounds of Christmas can get expensive—but it doesn’t have to. There are a few steps that you can follow to ensure that you don’t end up with the winter blues, a whole lot of regret, and a huge credit card bill come January. Follow these 10 ways to avoid overspending this Christmas.
How do I avoid overspending during the holidays?
It may seem impossible to not spend too much during the holidays. You want to be able to enjoy parties, events, and even travel during this time, right? Only a Grinch would be worried about finances during the holidays! Believe it or not, you can do both— enjoy the holidays and still be aware of your finances… by planning ahead of time. Here are 10 ways to help you plan ahead to avoid overspending at Christmas.
Make a list.
Don’t just set out to shop without a game plan. Write down who you are buying for and what you want to get for them. And remember, if it’s not on the list—don’t buy it!
Set a budget.
Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend on the gifts you will buy. The easiest way to not overspend is to set aside a certain amount of cash, when the money is gone, your shopping is done. If you are buying online or using a credit card, save your receipts and make sure to keep track of your spending.
Don’t get drawn in by “biggest SALE of the season” advertising.
Just when you think that Black Friday has the best sales, then Cyber Monday comes along with a whole new plethora of items on sale. Really, until Christmas Eve, you can count on retailers trying to entice you onto their website or into their store so you can take advantage of the Christmas savings. Don’t get me wrong, the 52” flat screen HD TV is a great buy for $300, but if you don’t really need it, then that was $300 that you didn’t really need to spend.
Focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
It is so easy to get caught up in buying the perfect gift for that special someone or making sure everything is checked off the “Santa” list, but gifts, decorations, and holiday parties are not the reason we celebrate Christmas. Remembering that we celebrate Christmas because of the birth of Jesus, spending time with family and friends, and giving to others helps get things back in perspective.
Make homemade gifts.
As much as Grandma and Grandpa enjoy getting a new pair of slippers under the tree, they would probably enjoy getting a homemade gift from their grandkids even more. There are also plenty of homemade gift ideas that you can make for teachers, neighbors, etc. Here is a post about how I make delicious Buckeyes and other Christmas goodies and use as gifts.
Wait until the after-Christmas sales.
This won’t do you very much good this year, but planning ahead can save you 50-75% off for next year. Wait to buy lights, wrapping paper, and other decorations once they go on sale the day after Christmas.
Take advantage of gift card specials.
Many stores offer a free “gift” with purchase— $10 free gift card with a purchase of $40 of gift cards, for example. If there are items that you know you want to get from a store that offers this, buy the gift cards first, then use them to buy your gifts—and pick up a bit of extra spending power along the way. Besides these great offers, you can take advantage of store programs year-round to earn freebies! Interested? Take a look at how I was able to get free gas for my car for buying Christmas gifts!
With most stores having an online presence, it is pretty easy to look up current sales and compare from site to site which retailer has the best deals or offer free shipping.
Shop consignment stores for holiday clothes for the kids.
If you want to have the perfect holiday outfit for your kids for the annual Christmas picture, card, or school program, it can get very pricy. If you aren’t careful, you can sink quite a bit of money into a complete outfit that your rapidly growing child will only wear one or two times over the holidays. Many consignment shops offer “nice as new” and name brand clothing for a fraction of the original cost.
Attend FREE holiday events.
Many churches, individual venues, or communities offer free events such as plays, light displays, Christmas tree lightings, caroling, and festivals. These free events can offer a lot of great family fun—and it doesn’t cost you a thing!