It’s that time of year again. The air is turning cooler, the shopping centers are looking more festive, there’s a spirit of ‘goodwill’ in the air, and everyone wants your money! Tis’ the season! No doubt, you have more options for buying things than money to spend! If you’re like me, it can feel very overwhelming to save money through the holidays without feeling like you’re breaking the bank! I’ve compiled a list of my top twenty ways to save money and still be able to enjoy the holiday season.
After all, this is a time to be together and spend time as a family and not ‘ring in the new year,’ thousands of dollars in debt
Without further ado, here are my top twenty ways to save money through the holidays!
MAKE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
Before you do anything else, make sure you have a budget.
You definitely need to know how much money you can spend so that you don’t overspend.
Money goes so fast, and unless you have a plan, you might as well kiss it all, ‘Goodbye,’ right now. Without a budget, you will be way more apt to spend impulsively and excessively.
When you compile your budget, be sure to include everyone on your gift buying list, as well as any food responsibilities you will have, whether hosting dinner parties or attending various festivities.
Also important to know is whether or not you will need a budget for clothes. Do your kids have special programs they are participating in? Is this the time of year you decide to take your family pictures?
Think of all of the incidentals you are planning for and then build your budget according to how much money you have. But even more important than making the budget, is sticking to it.
Write a list and don’t deviate. Like I said earlier, everyone wants your money and they are happy to take it!
Stick to your budget!
SAVE MONEY FOR THE HOLIDAYS YEAR ROUND
It may be too late to plan for this year’s holidays, but consider setting a little bit of your paycheck aside each payday for the entire year. That way next year at this time, you will be ready for the holidays and won’t find yourself scrambling to make ends meet. Your holidays will be much more enjoyable if you have saved money throughout the year.
A very practical way to save without much effort, is to save all of your change in a jar. Keep a jar in a central location and it will be easy to toss some loose bills and change into. You’ll be surprised at how much it adds up and next year at this time, you will have a little extra to help with some of the added costs of the festivities.
Don’t rely on change alone though, as it probably won’t be enough to carry you through the holidays, but definitely add saving your change as a little extra boost to your budget.
SHOP ALL YEAR
Take the time to organize everyone on your shopping list and then plan to shop all year long. The advantage is that you won’t be forced to buy something at the eleventh hour.
If you shop all year-round, you can easily take advantage of sales and discounts. Sure, it takes a little extra planning, but the money you will save is definitely worth it. I also appreciate the fact that you can be more intentional about your gift-giving if you are shopping year-round.
A true story:
When I first met my husband, he was a bit of a last-minute shopper. We met in October and got engaged the day before Christmas Eve. We were so young and he had never really Christmas shopped on his own before. Once he knew he was going to be a part of our family, and being the poor college student that he was, (he hadn’t really saved up any money for gifts) he decided to get a gift my parents on Christmas Eve.
However, the only thing open in our small rural town was the local gas station. He was forced to buy a size medium Packers t-shirt for my parents to share! And although it never fit either one of them, we still laugh about it to this day.
I hope you see the importance of planning all year round!
PLAN YOUR MEALS AHEAD
Christmas doesn’t just include gifts. There are also added expenses with food.
You may be hosting extra people in your house during the holidays and that means extra mouths to feed. Or perhaps you cook a little differently for the holidays than you would any other time of the year.
If you plan your meals ahead of time, in the weeks before the holidays, you can pick up ingredients each time you grocery shop and you won’t feel the extra weight of a holiday grocery shopping trip.
That way you can also take advantage of coupons.
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
One very important ‘money stealing’ tip to note is not to compare yourself to others. Just because someone you know showers their kids with gifts, doesn’t mean you have to as well. What may be good for them is not necessarily good for you.
If you are trying to save money through the holidays, then resist the urge to compare yourself to others. It really is okay to develop your own family traditions and way of doing things.
Teach your kids that even though their friends might receive certain gifts, it doesn’t mean that you love your kids any less if you don’t give them the same.
Comparison has never been constructive, and it could force you to spend more money than you have.
DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO GO ‘ALL OUT’
If you read my post about the Thanksgiving pie Buffet, then you know that I am a little bit excessive. I always feel like I want to go ‘over the top’ with everything I do. Thankfully, I have a husband who reins me in and helps me to see that I don’t have to go ‘all out’ on everything.
Sometimes simple is better. And it’s definitely easier on the budget.
Find a few special holiday traditions and focus on them rather than trying to do everything.
I’ve actually found that the times I have gone overboard with Christmas gifts and food, the kids are less satisfied and don’t appreciate things as much. In more recent years, I have been trying to cut back and it has helped with our budget and our family’s happiness. It’s OK to cut back on the extras.
CONSIDER GIVING ONLY THREE GIFTS
I have noticed a trend amongst my friends of only giving three gifts for each child for Christmas.
Not only does this help with the family budget, but it also makes the gifts that you give more special and intentional. You can search the internet for various ideas for the three gifts, but I especially like this post and the ideas this family had.
Most kids already have more things than they know what to do with. So it’s not a bad idea to ‘give less for more.’
We have seven kids and have been giving them Christmas gifts for almost seventeen years. That means there are a lot of toys floating around our house and because I try to keep them organized, our toys have not seen a lot of wear.
Now, I love to give a brand new toy to my kids each Christmas, but I’m beginning to realize that some of our toys are actually ‘new’ to our little kids.
In recent years, I’ve been trying harder to recycle gifts, and in doing so, I’ve been able to save money through the holidays.
Take inventory of the toys that you have and see what you might be able to recycle.
Drawing names is a fun way to make a connection between two people in your family.
Rather than try to buy a gift for everyone, considered drawing names. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that as a parent, (because you want to give everyone a gift) then you can at least draw names between siblings.
We have drawn names for our kids for stocking stuffers, and they absolutely love shopping for each other. It’s a nice way to save money through the holidays and still feel like everyone is giving/receiving a gift and participating.
DON’T MAKE IT ABOUT THE GIFTS
You might consider not buying gifts at all.
After all, the real reason for the season is about Christ’s birth, and although I don’t think gift-giving is a bad thing, it can become overwhelming and cause stress, taking over the true meaning of Christmas.
If you choose not to buy gifts, make sure you make the holidays about spending time together. You can consider starting a new family tradition and doing something fun together.
I guarantee you, that even if you choose not to do gifts just one Christmas, nobody will die! Your kids might even find that they appreciate just spending undivided time with you.
One year my in-laws decided to give the money they would usually use to buy gifts for our kids to a missionary to buy him a bike. It was neat to share that missionary story with the kids and they appreciated being able to help further the gospel.
Another year, my grandma donated the money she usually spends on Christmas presents to Operation Christmas Child. Again, our kids were happy to help other kids in need.
SHOP THE SALES
If the thought of not giving gifts for Christmas doesn’t appeal to you, there are still many ways to save money during the holidays.
Take advantage of the numerous sales that are taking place during the holiday season. But don’t fret, you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night and stand for hours in line in order to shop the Black Friday sales.
If you’re careful to watch, the same sales will come around again before Christmas. The retailers would have you to believe that the only chance you have of getting a ‘good deal’ is to plow someone over with a cart (please don’t do that! 🙂 ) but the truth is, you can snag many of those deals, in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Black Friday isn’t the only time.
Ebates is an excellent way to earn cash-back on the purchases that you have to spend on. (And if you sign up, you’ll get $10 cash back after you make a purchase!) I love the idea, because if I’m spending anyway, why not earn some cash back?
It’s worth your while to check it out. I have been able to earn cash-back and save money through the holidays by shopping with Ebates. (Hint: they even have a way for you to refer friends and earn money as well.)
Ibotta is real similar to Ebates. (They also have a $10 welcome bonus!) The basic premise is that you are rewarded for shopping when you upload your receipt to their app.
Again, since you may already be making special purchases through the holiday season, why not earn money as you shop? And like Ebates, they have a referral program as well.
STAY OUT OF THE STORES
One really good way to save money through the holidays is simply not to go in the stores.
I don’t know if you’ve started to notice, but on a trip to our local Walmart I saw the aisles jam-packed with extra stuff. The retailers are gearing up for you to spend money and everywhere you look there are displays and propaganda calling for you to spend at their store.
If you stay out of the stores, you will be much more likely to save money through the holidays.
SHOP ONLINE AND SAVE ON SHIPPING
The remedy for staying out of the stores, (and my personal favorite) is to shop online. I don’t feel the time pressure and it’s so much nicer than fighting the crowds. I can carefully consider which gifts I’d like to buy and shop accordingly.
As a bonus, most online retailers have specials on shipping right now. Which makes it much easier to make your dollar stretch.
And you won’t be tempted to pick up an iced coffee or a candy bar at the checkout! 🙂
In keeping with the theme of shopping online, Ebay is an excellent place to find good deals.
I am totally fine with my kids having second-hand toys at a second-hand price. If you’re careful to watch the auctions on Ebay, you can find some really good deals on good quality items.
SELL THINGS AHEAD OF TIME
Since we’re talking about online shopping anyway, why not get in on the seller’s side of things and earn a little extra money to help you through the holiday season?
As you know, this is the time of year that everyone is looking for a deal. Toys are ‘hot’ items as well as electronics.
You might consider selling some of the toys your kids no longer use on Ebay to earn money for the holidays.
BUY DISCOUNTED GIFT CARDS
Discounted gift cards are a great way to save money through the holidays. Sometimes you can buy gift cards for a percentage off of the face value, which will definitely help you stretch your budget.
Check Groupon, local online rummage sales on Facebook, as well as eBay.
Every little bit counts when you’re trying to save money!
DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE DOLLAR TREE
The Dollar Tree is an often overlooked store that has little ‘gold mines’ of savings.
Whether stocking stuffers, place settings, or items to make DIY gifts and decorations, don’t forget to check out the Dollar Tree.
I have been pleasantly surprised by things I have found that have made really good gifts and have helped me save money through the holidays.
And they also have a very nice online store!
DIY YOUR GIFTS AND DECORATIONS
One of the best ways to save money is by making your gifts and decorations. Not only does it save money, but it also gives you something fun to do.
My friend Jennifer, at jennifermaker.com has great ideas for making holiday decorations.
Use your imagination and a little creativity to make your gifts and decorations this year and you will save money.
NOW YOU HAVE SOME IDEAS TO SAVE MONEY
Hopefully these ideas will give you somewhere to start with saving money for the holidays. Even if you just choose a few you will be sure to see some savings.
Try not to stress over money! The holidays should be an enjoyable time. Whether you have little or plenty, remember to count your blessings!
What tips do you have to save money for the holidays? I would love to hear ideas you have to make your money stretch. Please comment below and let me know how you prepare financially.