Photo by Ron Dauphin on Unsplash

Now that Halloween is over, the Holiday Season is upon us! If you have walked in any store recently, including your grocery store, you may have noticed aisles full of red and green items. David Thoreau once said “The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much,” which is such a true statement as we enter the last part of the year. It is never too early to set our intentions for the holidays.

Budget

Many people shop without a plan. Don’t be like them. In a few quick minutes, you can make a holiday budget. This is an easy time of year to lose track of how much money you are spending. Not sure where to start? Consider a few of these categories:

  • Gifts for Family
  • Gifts for Friends
  • Gifts for Coworkers
  • Gift for teachers, mail carriers, trash collectors, hairdresser, etc.
  • The Oops “I Didn’t Realize That You Were Giving Me A Gift” Gift
  • Holiday Hostesses Gifts: Does your boss host the office Holiday party in their personal home? Make sure that you come prepared with a hostess gift in hand and that the gift is part of your budget.
  • Get Togethers: Have a potluck holiday office party or does your family ask that you bring a dish to the Christmas lunch? That dish needs to be part of your budget. Even providing a dip with chips can be an easy $10 that you need to account for during the holidays.
  • Holiday travel: Are you driving or flying? Make sure to count that cost into your budget.
  • All the trimmings: Decorations, gift wrapping, tape, and even the bows for your gifts all cost money. You will need a section for the frills of Holiday season in your budget.

Once you’ve purchased their gift, wrap it, cross that person off your list and move on to the next family member or friend. By having a plan of what you want to purchase for those will allow you to focus more on what to buy rather than just browsing each time you enter a store or visit a company’s website.

When to Shop

A recent article by USA Today gives insight on when is the best time to purchase some of your favorite items while enjoying deep discounts. Here’s the scoop:

  • November 22 – Save 13% on sporting goods
  • November 23 – Save 33% on tablets, 22% on televisions and 16% on computers
  • November 25 – Save 3% on jewelry, 18% on appliances and 22% on apparel
  • November 26 – Save 19% on toys
  • November 27 – Save 14% on bedding and furniture

Consider buying the items on your list on these days to help stretch your Holiday budget even further this year.

Other Factors

Consider this season paying for all of your gifts in cash. This method will give you a concrete idea of how much you are spending and once the money is gone, it is gone and preventing you from overspending. Additionally, when you are shopping, consider utilizing deal-oriented and comparison websites such as RetailMeNot and Hip2Save to help you save this holiday season. Ebates and Ibotta are both great apps that reward you with cash back for simply shopping online. By buying grandma’s sweater with these sites, you can be rewarded with spending cash to enjoy after the holiday season.

It is the Thought that Counts

Strapped for cash this year? Consider proposing a Secret Santa at work or among your family to reduce costs. That way you are only buying for one person rather than 20 or so of your coworkers. Or give the gift of volunteering by donating money to a local charity in that person’s honor or time through activities like ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

Do not discount any handmade gifts that you give to friends and family. A tradition our family has is to bake cookies for the elderly neighbors on our street and delivering them around Christmas Eve. My children enjoy the process of making cookies (and sneaking a few), wrapping them and then delivering them to our adopted grandmothers. It is more than the sweets themselves as these very sweet ladies enjoy the visit and the love my children have for them is reciprocated. I tell you that story to say, don’t get hung up on the price tag of what you want to buy your loved ones. Just taking the time to remember them this holiday season and making them feel special will mean so much more.

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