The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. However, I understand how it can be quite stressful on someone’s finances due to all the shopping, decorating, events, and added expenses. The average household spends around $1,000 on Christmas.
That’s a ton of money, but I think I’ve spent that much in one year before. Spending a ton of money on the holidays can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. You’ll either have to work a ton of extra hours to make more money or put those expenses on a credit card. Putting it on credit is just debt you’ll have to pay off later.
This is why it’s always best to save money this holiday season. Here are five ways I’m saving money this year.
1. Not Exchanging Gifts With Extended Family
This year, my husband and I decided not to exchange gifts with family members outside of our household for the most part. Instead, we’re going to be increasing our savings for the down payment on the home we hope to buy next year and giving to our loved ones in other ways like with our time and talents.
We still plan to attend holiday parties and create memories together, but I just don’t think it’s necessary to involve lots of gifts this year and push the agenda that everyone needs more stuff. We’re at a really good place where we don’t need a lot, and it’s more of a priority to just spend time with family and relax over these next few weeks.
This may not be ideal for everyone, but so far I’ve been much less stressed now that I have a smaller gift list to work with. I’ve been experimenting with taking a break in terms of gift giving for certain holidays and this is the first time I’m doing it with Christmas.
In a way, holidays obligate us to purchase gifts for one another. Most times, we don’t even know what the other person truly wants even though it’s supposed to be a close family member.
If I’m going to buy something for my mom or siblings, I want to do it if it fits within my budget and out of the kindness of my heart. Not just because it’s a holiday and everyone else is doing it.
2. Staying Home More
This may sound boring, but staying home more during the holiday season will naturally help you save more money. You’d think since I work from home most days, I’d already been spending way too much time at home. While I am at home a lot, I’m usually in a corner hovered over my laptop and laser-focused on my work. This means I don’t really have a ton of time to actually enjoy my home.
If you have a demanding schedule, but manage to have a few days off this month, take the time to enjoy relaxing in your home. You can spend it with family or even invite people over.
When was the last time you binge-watched a great show on Hulu, cuddled up on the couch with a good book, played board games with your kids, or did Christmas crafts while enjoying some hot chocolate?
Instead of shelling out $60 for the entire family to go have breakfast with Santa or seeing an expensive play, split some of your free time between doing enjoyable things outside the home and inside the home to save money.
3. Sticking to My Holiday Spending Budget
Another way I’m spending less money is by sticking to my holiday budget. Each year, I start saving for the holidays early by making automatic transfers from my checking to savings account when I get paid each month. I estimate all my holiday expenses to help me determine how much I need to save.
Sticking to my budget involves saying no quite a few times but it’s better than getting into holiday debt. If I really want something, I try to find a quality sale or discounted version of the item.
For example, I am thinking about getting my son one of those smart watches that allow you to make and receive calls. It would be helpful for him to have as he gets older since I don’t plan on buying him a cell phone anytime soon.
Some of these watches retail at $150+ but I found one for around $40 on Amazon that I’m investigating before I make my final decision.
To keep track of my spending, I downloaded a free app for Android called Gift List. This app allows you to create multiple Christmas lists. Plus, you can set a budget and track how much you’ve spent and what you’ve spent it on. There is also a version of this app for Apple users and it’s called The Christmas List.
4. Cashing In Rewards
I always look forward to cashing in my credit card and loyalty rewards around the holidays so I can save money. If you have rewards credit cards, be sure to check to see if you’ve earned any points or cash back that you can use for your holiday expenses.
I have the Citi Double Cash card that I use for my regular monthly spending. I got this card earlier this year and have already earned over $100 in cash back. This card doesn’t have the best rewards rate. But, it’s easy for me to use. They offer 1% cash back on any purchase and an additional 1% cash back once you pay the purchase off.
I expect to cash in another $50+ in cash back rewards this month. Then, I’ll use it for Christmas and New Years Eve. In addition to using a cash back card, I also use a loyalty rewards site called Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is free to use. You can earn points for doing simple tasks like taking surveys and searching online. Other ways include playing games, watching videos, trying out offers, and more. I have at least $50 to redeem in Swagbucks points as well. Swagbucks lets you redeem points for gift cards to popular retailers. Or you can redeem your points for cash via a PayPal gift card.
5. Looking Into Gently Used Items
Finally, I’m looking into gently used items to help with saving money this holiday season. It will reduce my spending on Christmas gifts for my husband and son. We recently sold some of my son’s old toys on the Facebook Marketplace. The toys were in really good condition and sold for a fraction of their value in my opinion.
If I can find some quality electronics, home goods, etc. that are gently used, I’d definitely consider snatching them up. It beats standing in long lines and dealing with holiday traffic.