- Set yourself a budget. Most people overspend during the holidays because they don’t go in with a budget for each person they are going to buy presents. Typically, when you go on an impulse shopping spree, you often spend more than had originally planned for before the shopping excursion. My recommendation is to set a clear budget with a fixed dollar amount per person, and then work yourself backwards. Remember, it isn’t always the amount of gifts that somebody gets . . . it’s the thought of the gift that counts. If at all possible pay cash and stay away from the credit cards.
- Think about what you are going to give people who work for you, with you, or who help you. People such as the mail person, trash collectors, paper delivery people, etc. If you’ve got people that work in your house or do work for you in a regular basis, think about how much cash or what small gift you are going to get them. It’s best that if you give a gift, keep if uniform among this group with a limited budget. If it is going to be a money gift, it is typically to give anywhere from $10 to $50 depending on the type of work they have done for you.
- Be smart about giving gifts at work. First of all, it is not mandatory or necessary to give gifts to your co-workers. If you got 20 people that work with you, it’s often difficult to figure out what to get and where the line stops on who gets gifts. I recommend doing some sort of secret gift exchange with a dollar limit so it adds some fun and keeps the cost down. Hand written note cards with small gift cards can be a great idea, or a magazine subscription so they will think of you all year long. I might even recommend just doing something nice such as bringing in a specialty cup of coffee with a donut or muffin one morning.
- Watch your budget with your family, especially your kids. I have three kids so I know this. Is this going to be the toy at the bottom of the chest that you gave them last year, or is it something that’s going to end up in a drawer with all the other toys from years before? Stick with fewer gifts versus more, but put thought into what your kids will really use. Relatives will usually fill in the extra joy of having a few more things to open for your kids, so stick to a few nice things.
- My last thought which is a little radical is to consider doing gifts after holiday time instead of the big holiday days. Enjoy those days with small gifts, food, family, and fun, and then all agree to go shopping after December 25th. If you do, you will all find bargains, and be able to get each other a lot more for a lot less as things go on sale during that time. If you can delay the gratification, have everyone over on December 27th or 28th and exchange all of your gifts then. It won’t lessen the holiday spirit but it will lessen the amount out of all of your walletsJ
Stick to these five holiday money saving tips, and you just might find yourself not having to make a New Year’s resolution to pay off your bills!