‘Tis the season for giving and many Americans have been shopping for loved ones for well over a month now. As the festival of Hanukkah wraps up, Christmas approaches and other holiday celebrations draw near, many are buying last-minute gifts and preparing to host big feasts. While it’s fun to spend money on friends and family, it’s also important to fight the urge to overspend.
With 2016 approaching fast, many people are beginning to think about what their New Year’s resolutions will be. According to Nielsen, living a happy, healthy lifestyle are top-of-mind for many. One-quarter of people say they want to spend less and save more in the new year. As in most things, it’s better to start earlier rather than later. However, it’s and after the holidays are over, you’ll be happy you did.
Making A List (& Checking It Twice)
Prior to shopping, many people make a list of people they want to buy presents for. They may even make an entire list of gifts to give each person before heading out to stores. Bankrate explains this method, while full of good intentions, isn’t the best for your checkbook. Instead, the first thing people should do is set a budget. Decide how much you are going to spend altogether on holiday shopping. Then, make the list of people you want to give gifts to.
Next, determine how much you will spend on each person. When you do go shopping, stop by an ATM to take out cash. Allot a certain amount of money to each person. When the cash is spent, don’t resort to using your credit or debit cards to continue shopping. This strategy will help you visualize how much you are really spending and prevent you from going overboard.
Nolo suggested cutting people off of your gift list. This doesn’t have to be as heartless as it sounds, however. Talk to these people and suggest doing something else that is less expensive. For instance, you could admire holiday lights together or do an outdoor activity together, like skiing, skating or snowshoeing.
If you don’t want to take anyone off your list, try putting together some homemade gifts. Many people remember these as thoughtful gifts, though they cost less than a something you might find in a department store. If you know how to knit or sew, consider making a blanket or mittens. Or, if you’re an avid baker, bake some cookies and give them in a nice tin.
A tried and true method to save money any time of year is paying attention to weekly ads. U.S. & World News Report suggested that people planning holiday shopping check out store circulars that point out some great deals.
One Real Simple reader explained her strategy to cut costs during the holidays is to seek out coupons for gifts. She said using as many coupons as possible will help to save money throughout the season. Bankrate said finding coupons to your favorite stores isn’t hard if you know how to look for them. Checking out a store’s website will generally point you toward some savings. Social media sites are also popular methods to distribute coupons to customers.
Take Your Shopping Online
Shopping online helps to cut down on costs because you won’t have to pay for gas or parking and it also saves you the most precious resource of all, time. Most stores today give consumers the option to make purchases online. U.S. News & World Report explained there are apps that can help with the buying process as well, such as Pounce. This app gives users the option to buy a product by taking a photo of the item from store circulars from popular retailers. Pounce CEO and founder Avital Yachin said this benefits customers in many ways.
“By not having to brave mall madness and holiday traffic, users save money on gas, tolls and parking,” Yachin said, according to U.S. & World News Report. “They can also do all their shopping on ‘their time,’ not just during mall hours.”
By shopping intentionally and paying attention to your budget, you are sure to enter the new year financially sound. All it takes is some planning and creativity to show your friends and family you care while also saving money.