If you’re a mom then you probably have a pretty good idea of just how expensive the holidays can be. Between gifts, decorations, vacations, and parties, it can seem like an impossibility to stay on budget. For a season that’s supposed to be all about giving and appreciating what you have, worrying and fretting over money can feel like a betrayal of the festive spirit. But don’t lose heart. As long as you’re smart about where you shop and what you buy, both you and your budget can remain happy and bright this holiday season. Here are some smart money saving tips for surviving the holidays on a budget.
One thing there is no lack of during the holidays is retail sales. Practically every store you visit will try to tempt you with deals and special promotions of all sorts. The challenge is, which ones are really worth taking advantage of? It’s not always easy to determine, but there’s two pieces of advice that can help you navigate the distractions to spot the real deals: the first is to have a solid idea of how much an item normally costs so you can determine if a sale price is actually that much of a bargain.
The second is to create a shopping list ahead of time so you don’t get sidetracked and spend on items you didn’t plan on buying in the first place. Most impulse buys are not going to be good deals. Combined together, these two can help you avoid being taken advantage of when shopping the holiday sales. You can definitely use sales to stretch your holiday budget. Plan early what gifts, decorations, and supplies you want so you can watch the Sunday newspaper flyers, cut or download coupons, follow your favorite stores on social media for special promotions and be on the lookout for bargains year-round.
Does your tree really need to be the tallest on the block? Does it really need to be adorned with thousands of lights? The truth is that cutting back on how much you spend on decorating your house for the holidays will often give it a cleaner, more minimalistic appearance that will actually improve how it looks. Decorating your house is an important tradition for many families during the holidays, but it is never worth going into debt over. Things like credit cards and signature installment loans are options that are better saved for emergencies, not for an inflatable snowman for your front yard.
It can be tempting to feel you need to give your kids, family, or friends great gifts each year, but the truth is that it can easily become a big drain on your bank account. Instead of getting everyone you know a gift, try instead to cut back on your list to include just your closest friends and family members. If you can, convince your coworkers and circles of friends to do a Secret Santa exchange instead of exchanging individual gifts.
The other piece of the puzzle is reducing how much you’re spending on each individual gift. Something like a gift card isn’t just expensive, it’s also generic and impersonal. This year, why not take some time out to brainstorm thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Tap into what you know about the person you’re getting a gift for, and come up with something that reflects the special bond and relationship you have with the recipient. After all, that’s what Christmas is ultimately about.