12 Money Saving Tips for the Holidays

by David Sung

The Holidays are supposed to be the time of year for family, fun, & celebrating.  But for many of us, the Holidays turn into a time of frantic shopping, running around, stress and more stress….and more stress.  And if you’re like us, it doesn’t really matter if you’re just planning a simple Holiday dinner or a more elaborate event; you often wonder when you’ll have the time and/or money to do everything.  As always, the Cash Store and its crack staff of precocious bloggers have come up some few simple hints & tips to, hopefully, help everyone out there relieve some of the financial stress and anxiety that comes along during the Holiday Season.

1. Start Early – Yes, it may still be hot outside and you may still be in shorts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for the Holiday Season.  This is a great time to find items you already have and to make a list of what you will need for the Holidays.

2. Take Inventory – Look through your closets, under the beds, and in the attic or garage…you probably have more stuff for the Holidays than you realize.  Take inventory of wrapping paper, cards, ribbons, bags, etc.  Who know, you may even find some gifts you hid last year and forgot about.

3. Make A List – Make a list of all the items you’ll need to get for the Holiday season and list everyone you anticipate having to get a gift for.  Be sure to include on the list any of the incidentals you will need for the Holidays that you don’t normally need the rest of the year (extra tape for wrapping, decorative napkins for entertaining, wrapping paper or bags, etc.).

4. Estimate Your Costs – Once you’ve completed your list, add a dollar limit that you’re willing to spend for each item on the list and STICK TO IT!  Add up everything on the list and make sure you can live with the total cost. We don’t know about you, but it’s always surprising at how fast things add up when shopping during the Holidays.  According to the American Consumer Credit Council the average American family spends between $700 and $950 for Holiday items.

5. Budget Your Holiday Shopping – Now that you have your total estimated costs for the Holidays, you can better budget your shopping trips.  Plan to buy a few items per paycheck.  For example, it’s so much easier on the wallet to buy two gifts for $50 with each paycheck over the next few months than buying all your gifts for several hundred in a day or two.

6. Take Advantage of Layaway – Some stores still offer layaway programs that allow you to pay a portion of the total over time.  K-Mart, Sears, Toys-R-Us and Wal-Mart are a few stores that still offer these programs; please check with your local store for details.  www.Elayaway.com is a great website that offers layaway on a variety of products, services, and even gift cards.

7. Look Online for Additional Savings – Many retailers now make saving money just a simple click away.  Search online for retailers who offer coupons on their websites or via their facebook pages.  If you cannot find any savings there, try these online sources for additional savings: www.retailmenot.com or www.savings.com.

8. Check It (the list) Twice – As you complete your shopping, make sure to check the list and mark off the items you’ve purchased.  Check the list to make sure if certain items on the list are still needed and add any items you may have previously missed like a gift for your child’s teacher or stocking stuffers.

9. Inexpensive Does Not Equal Cheep – Gifts don’t have to cost a lot to make a grand impression.  Have the kids make gifts for Grandma & Grandpa. You can get inexpensive craft kits at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  Bake cookies for your child’s teacher or for your co-workers. More often than not, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the reactions you receive from these handmade gifts.

10. Get Creative – Think outside the box when it comes to gift wrapping and decorating.  The Sunday funny pages can make great wrapping paper for a kid or a guy; they are a colorful and creative way to brighten any package.  Go with a non-traditional colors and decorations.  Maybe you have a lot of blue ribbon in the closet; well use that ribbon with a coordinating color to spruce up a package or to trim the tree.  Christmas is no longer limited to just red & green.

11. Have Fun & be Merry – Being prepared in advance for the Holiday Season will let you take your time shopping for gifts. Starting early also allows you to spread out your costs over a longer time period which means less stress and anxiety.  Sit back, enjoy the Holidays with your friends & family, and watch everyone else stress out.

12. Start Early for Next Year – The “After Christmas” sales are a great time and a cost saving way to stock-up on those Holiday essentials that you can easily store away. Pick-up next year’s cards or wrapping paper when it’s 50-75% off.  You might even be able to start marking off next years gift list, but be careful not to buy anything that may be out-of-style or that will expire before next Christmas (like bath or food items).  And finally, make sure to store everything in a place where it won’t get ruined by weather, heat or cold.

-  Charlene Nyhart
Cash Store Blogger

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