‘Tis the season for giving! Between the parties, festive décor, and gifts for everyone on your list, the holiday season can be an expensive time of year. Planning ahead can help you buy the gifts you want for all your family and friends without breaking the bank.
Need a little help making the holidays more affordable? Here are some top shopping tips for the holiday season.
Create a Budget
Before you start shopping for everyone on your list, create a holiday budget. For starters, you’ll want to determine what you want to spend this holiday season and stick to it. Come January 1, you’ll be glad you did.
List all the people you plan to shop for — family, friends, colleagues, children’s teachers, your mail carrier, etc. Next, estimate how much you plan to spend on each person. Don’t forget to add in the little details such as wrapping paper, bows, cards, postage, travel expenses, decorations, etc. Then, calculate the total.
If you’ve stretched thin or maxed out your budget, it’s best to re-evaluate your lists. Can you spend a little less on every person? How about narrowing your list of recipients? Maybe you attend fewer festivities this year to save on costs.
Start Saving Early
It might be too late to save for the holidays this year, but this tip could benefit you in the years to come. In fact, it’s never too early to start saving for the holidays. Indeed, setting aside some money each month over the course of a year is a lot better than spending a large portion of one month’s earnings on the holidays.
Spread Out Your Expenses
Regardless of whether you were able to save ahead of time, spreading out your expenses might be one of the best holiday shopping tips to adopt. Instead of waiting until December to purchase all your gifts, start as early as possible. When it comes to holiday photo cards, your best bet is to create them in November and mail them out by early December so they arrive on time. After all, what’s better than checking off a holiday to-do mere weeks after Halloween? If you know what you want to buy your loved ones or need time to make it, experts recommend starting that early, too. Space out your shopping trips to ensure you don’t build up a large bill at any one time.
Take Advantage of Sales
Of course, if you finalize your list early enough, you can take advantage of early holiday sales. Why pay full price when you can get the same item at a discounted rate? Here are the biggest sales opportunities:
- Black Friday: The Friday after Thanksgiving is always a busy shopping day, as countless retailers offer their lowest prices of the year. With many stores opening their doors the night of Thanksgiving, though, make sure to check when certain Black Friday sales start. Some stores will remain closed both Thursday and Friday.
Pro tip: Many Black Friday deals can be found online, meaning you don’t have to cut short your family festivities, wake up before dawn, or stand in long lines.
- Small-Business Saturday: The Saturday after Thanksgiving is a day when many small-business owners offer their cheapest prices on goods and services.
- Cyber Monday: The Monday after Thanksgiving is the day to shop online. Whether you’re shopping your favorite online-only retailer or your go-to brick-and-mortar store’s website, you’ll find countless virtual deals on Cyber Monday.
Put Your Creativity to Work
Nobody said you had to buy the most expensive gifts for your loved ones. Sometimes the best gifts are inexpensive.
To that end, opt for a homemade gift rather than something store-bought. For example, make a meaningful craft like a scrapbook or holiday ornament, bake your favorite holiday cookies to share, create a recipe book of your best dishes, knit a wool hat, and/or gift a “coupon” for one-on-one time with you. Let your imagination run wild. The options truly are endless.
Have a Happy Holiday Season
The holiday season should be filled with love, laughter, joy, and time spent with those we hold near and dear. In other words, don’t stress over money. If you follow these shopping tips, you’re bound to experience a more enjoyable holiday season with family and friends.