Keeping costs low during the holiday season is nearly as tough as keeping the excess weight off during Thanksgiving. While many of us are well intentioned when it comes to keeping expenses down during the holidays, our best laid plans are often crushed by the reality of the cost of food, gifts, decorations, and all the little extras that seem to sneak up on us during the season of goodwill.
If you’re fed up with overspending and want to find some ways to keep your costs down this Christmas, here are a few ideas that might help you with your cost cutting goals.
1. Pay cash
When it comes to Christmas and holiday spending, it’s easy to lose track of your expenditures and your budget when you’re swiping credit cards and writing checks left and right. When you’re shelling out cold hard cash for your holiday expenses, it tends to have a greater impact on your awareness of just how much you’re actually spending and on what.
2. Make a list
Yes, just like Santa Claus, you should be making a list and checking it twice. The only difference is that you are keeping yourself from being naughty by not overspending. Making lists of what you need, as well as their associated costs, can help decrease “impulse” buys and assist you in maintaining a reasonable budget.
3. Compare prices on-line
You can find great bargains, get free shipping on products, check out customer reviews on gifts you’re considering, read blogs about coupons, discounts, and perform quick and easy product and price comparisons on the Internet. It is a great resource and can save you quite a bit of money when it comes to your holiday cost cutting.
4. Watch for coupons & advertisements
Whether on the Internet or through newspapers and direct mail packets, you can save hundreds of dollars by using store coupons. Finding coupons for 10%, 15%, 25% in store discounts or more can save you big, especially if you do the majority of your holiday shopping at establishments that offer these types of deals. Consider checking eBay or Craigslist where you might be able to purchase a coupon for a dollar or two that could save you 15% at a store where you might spend several hundred dollars.
5. Talk to family & friends
Friends and family are great resources when it comes to discovering bargains. You might also want to discuss whether to even undertake the whole gift giving process with your loved ones. Rather than exchanging gifts neither side wants, consider getting together for a dinner or party instead. It’s likely easier on the budget, and you’ll make lasting memories – and you don’t have to return those.
6. Buy discounted gift cards
Gift cards can be a great deal this season. Start your search at Gift Card Granny, a comparison shopping site for discounted gift cards. Such items can be perfect gifts, especially for children and spouses. A gift card can allow family members to buy things they probably would’ve spent money on anyway like clothes, home supplies, food, etc., thus keeping the expense within the family and possibly saving you money down the road.
7. Make your own gifts
While they are not always gift favorites, homemade food or gifts can be greatly appreciated and remember, it’s the thought that counts. For a spouse or partner you could give a massage coupon or certificate for work around the house that needs to be done.
8. Shop at discount stores
Just because a store has a well-known name and spends lots of money on advertising, it doesn’t mean their products are any better than a discount store. Local discount stores often offer the same style products but at a fraction of the cost when compared to high-end retailers.
9. Hunt for dollar bargains
Dollar stores are great places to find fun treats and stocking stuffers. You can spend $20 at a dollar store and load up on great treats for kids and adults of all ages.
10. Start shopping for Christmas 2010 now
It’s never too early to start saving money. Save money by shopping now for next year. Keep an eye open for deals when you’re out shopping and don’t forget – places like Goodwill stores, resale shops, and garage sales can be perfect places to find super cheap holiday decorations and gifts for next year!
About The Author
Kris writes about managing personal finances for an Australian credit card comparison website, CreditCardCompare.com.au specializing in 0% balance transfers and balance transfer for life credit cards. When he isn’t writing about money, Kris is often found reading and enjoying the outdoors. Check out more of his writings by clicking here