Holiday Budgeting Tips for the Savvy Consumer
Michael Thiemann, CEO and Co-founder at Zebit
As the holidays quickly approach, many consumers are looking at their growing gift lists and feeling overwhelmed with how they’re going to afford something for everyone on it. In a new study from SheerID, data showed that the majority of consumers plan to spend more than $250 or more on gifts this holiday season. And while knowing how much you plan to spend is a great first step, there’s quite a few more ways to save this holiday season.
Here are our top tips for budgeting like a pro this holiday season, and ensuring your bank account stays healthy and happy through January:
- Create a budget and stick to it: Creating a budget ahead of time is key for saving money during the holidays. Start by creating a list of what to buy, for who, and how much you have budgeted to spend per person. Don’t forget the small stuff like small gifts for party hosts and charitable contributions when you create your budget. Once you’ve created it, keep it visible and whatever you do, don’t stray from it. Your wallet will thank you come January.
- Trim your gift list: While it would be wonderful to be able to buy gifts for all of your friends, family, and co-workers, for most, that’s just not a reality. Gift exchanges can be an easy answer to this predicament. Have everyone pick a name, and set a maximum spending limit for gifts. Make the exchange a fun game or even host a gift-exchange party.
- Shop the sales: The holidays are a bargain hunter’s best friend – especially on the most recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Hundreds of stores have sales, giving you prime opportunity to buy gifts at a discount. Especially if you’re a teacher or military member, you can qualify for even steeper, exclusive deals. Do your research ahead of time, and see what brands are conducting sales or offering exclusive promotions.
- Shop early: Becoming even more common in recent years, brands are often starting promotions earlier and earlier in the holiday season. To get the best deals, shop early. Not only will you save on shipping, but you’ll also get prime pick of new inventory. If you wait until the last minute, you may face expensive shipping prices, out of stock items, or increased prices.
- Give the gift of service: Not every gift has to be a tangible item, so if you’re on a tight budget, think outside the proverbial box. Whether it be tutoring, babysitting, dog walking, or repairing a computer, these intangible gifts can often go a long way. And if all else fails, don’t discount the impact of a heartfelt note.
- Set expectations with your kids: While we all would like to give our children the world when you’re living on a budget, it’s important to set expectations of your little ones by having them write a list to Santa. Set the expectation that Santa can only bring one big present or a few smaller presents, and have them draft their list based on that understanding. Your kids should be able to tell you what they prefer, helping keep your budget in line and their holiday as cheerful as ever.
- Don’t rely on your credit card: It’s never a good idea to put anything on a credit card that you can’t pay off by the following month. Even with a sale price, if you put it on a credit card and don’t pay it off the following month, you may be responsible for accrued interest, which may end up costing you more than the original amount.
- Look for interest-free options: If you purchase on credit this holiday season, which many of us need to do, research some options that provide zero-interest credit. Beware of credit cards. While some offer no interest up front, it’s usually on a temporary basis. There are services out there that are always a 0% APR and have special incentives for certain consumers, like educators or those in the military.
By sticking to these tips throughout December, you put yourself in the best possible position for staying within your budget and saving money as you check gifts off your list. And if you don’t have the cash for necessary expenses, remember that there are zero-interest solutions available to give you the flexibility you need over the holidays.
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