7 Ways to Save This Holiday Season
Each year around the end of October, the milk aisle is suddenly accompanied by all sorts of eggnog, and bearded figures in reindeer drawn sleighs have overrun the toy aisles. The socially distanced greetings sound less like “hello” and more like “Merry Christmas!”. Everything starts smelling like pine and it’s no longer jacket optional weather.
The holiday season is here. It’s a wonderful time of the year. But for many, this can also be a stressful time of year. How do you get the gifts, make the dinners, and prepare the holiday activities without losing your sanity? Or breaking the budget?
Worry not. We’ve been doing this for a long time and we’re here to share with you seven tips on how to best make your way through this season with minimal stress, maximum joy, and without totally wrecking your finely-tuned budget.
1. Create a gift budget
Financial success doesn’t just happen. You have to plan ahead. Come up with a budget for what you want to spend and give yourself ample time to shop so you’re not hit with any week-of-Decemeber-23rd-last-second-desperation-purchase-fees.
One way of doing this: have a general idea of the total amount you’re prepared to spend, divided by the number of gifts you plan to give. This will give you an average budget for each gift you want to buy. Some will be more and some will be less but it will give you a sense of whether or not you are on track to keep that budget balanced, even as you spoil the loved ones in your lives.
2. Make a shopping list (check it twice) and stick to it
You may not consider yourself a forgetful person, but once you see all the holiday listings and products - it can be hard to keep that budget focus. Shopping without a list can lead to overspending, and that's why “making a list” is number two on our list.
Plan ahead by making a list before you start shopping so you’re able to get what you need and leave what you don’t in the digital cart.
3. Consider homemade gifts
This time of year is the perfect time to revisit those DIY Pinterest boards, ladies and gents! Tapping into your inner creative to make some homemade gifts can save you on your holiday budget, all while still meaning a lot to your loved ones.
Some might argue that homemade gifts might mean even more than a store-bought gift! After all, everyone is so busy nowadays, but you set aside time to hand make something special for a loved one. Your gift is what’s in the box plus the time it took to get it there!
Struggling to think of a DIY Christmas gift? Heres a list of 85 ideas to get the creative juices flowing.
4. Take advantage of technology
From online shopping to sending money to friends and family, technology can help make this holiday season a (mostly) stress-free one.
Almost all banks (Starion Bank included of course!) have mobile apps that track your purchases, pay those final end-of-the-year bills, and allow you to make online purchases quickly and effortlessly with a digital wallet.
A great product (especially for those "Let's go in on a gift for mom together!" scenarios), is Zelle! Split purchases or send cash to friends and family right from within the Starion app to get that extra special (or extra pricey) gift for a loved one! The best part? You’ll never have to touch a dollar bill or an ATM.
5. Don't procrastinate!
We all know the horrible feeling of waiting until the day before Christmas to scramble for those last few gifts. Although next day shipping is great, there are no guarantees during the cold, wet winter months. Especially that close to the holidays! When you shop on a time crunch, you’re more likely to overspend too. So, this year - stick to the budget, make a shopping list, and start shopping early!
6. Buy in bulk
Many online stores offer discounts for buying in bulk. Consider bulk gift-buying for all your nieces and nephews (or for your high school friends who you never see but feel like you should probably get something this year for) and save!
7. Channel your inner baker
Who doesn't love baked goods? You may not be the best baker, but just about anyone can whip up a batch of Christmas cookies. Consider throwing in a cookie or two with your other gifts to add a little pizzaz and holiday spirit to the gift. Most folks would take a gift of baked goodies over other stocking stuffers any day!
There are hundreds of easy holiday themed recipes online that don’t take advanced degrees in baking to master. And bonus: your house will smell like Christmas even if the baked goods don't exactly turn out.
Planning ahead is important when it comes to having financial success without mental stress. Whether you are planning for retirement or just for a few gifts, it's the foundation to good financial practice.
We will be using some of these tips and tricks for our holiday season, and if you do too - this year may just be a little more enjoyable than the last.