The leaves are changing colors. The temperature is dropping. Pumpkin spice is showing up everywhere. You know what that means, right? It’s holiday season! Get ready for plenty of family time and celebrations.
With every gathering, though, there’s the potential for a gift-giving extravaganza. If the thought of buying gifts for all your friends and family has visions of dollar signs dancing in your head, don’t despair. You don’t have to empty your wallet this year to give your loved ones a little something special.
Before you start shopping, keep reading. Here are seven ways to save some moolah while looking for the perfect present. Holding on to more of your pennies is a great way to boost your holiday spirit.
1. Leverage Your Debit Card
It’s tempting to put your holiday purchases on a credit card. You can buy all your gifts and pay them off over time. That might sound good, but it ends up costing you more. If you don’t pay your balance off immediately, those interest fees add up. Instead, consider paying with current funds to avoid racking up debt.
Using a fee-free debit card makes it easier to use your own cash while leaving more bucks in your pocket. You aren’t required to maintain a minimum balance with most fee-free accounts. That means you won’t have to worry about incurring fees if your balance dips during the holidays. Some cards even offer features like round-up savings, which lets you save while you spend. The price of every purchase is rounded up to the next dollar, with the extra cash sent directly to your savings account.
2. Set Some Gift-Giving Limits
Buying holiday presents can feel overwhelming if you have a big family. Trying to find a little something for everyone without going broke can feel impossible. If you’re worried about it, there’s a good chance others are, too. To save everyone money, consider suggesting a spending limit.
There are lots of ways to do this. With Secret Santa, everyone buys one gift (under a spending limit) for one person. Your group could also choose to only buy gifts for anyone under age 18. If you’re worried about everyone feeling included, think about planning a family trip. Everyone contributes to the overall cost, and everyone can participate.
3. Develop a Holiday Budget
Not every family wants to limit the present purchasing. That’s OK. If that’s the case, though, you can still control your spending. It just requires a bit of planning — and some willpower. It’s a good idea to start planning early so you can create a solid holiday budget.
Be realistic about how much you can afford to earmark for gifts. If you love transforming your home during the holidays, don’t forget about decoration costs. Potluck dinners are also a holiday favourite, so set aside funds to make your signature dish. Of course, stick to the budget as best you can. Set a smidge extra aside, in case you go slightly over.
4. Snag Some Free Shipping
These days, getting everyone together for the holidays can be tricky. Traveling is pricey, and it can be tough to get enough time off work. As a result, you’ll probably end up shipping a few presents to friends and family. Depending on what you buy, the added shipping costs can cut into your budget.
Fortunately, you can avoid that extra expense by taking advantage of Free Shipping Day. This year it’s on December 14, and more than 1,000 large retailers are participating. Along with free shipping, they also guarantee that presents shipped that day will arrive by Dec. 24. To sweeten the pot further, many retailers are also forgoing any minimum purchase requirements. You avoid the crowds while saving money — it’s a win-win!
5. Skip the Extras
If you’re looking to “make” some extra cash during the holidays, you don’t need a side hustle. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick look at where you’re already spending your money. Are you willing to cut out a few things for a month or so? If so, you can make a solid donation to your own gift-giving fund.
Do you have a habit of running through the drive-through for a $5 morning latte? Make your own coffee for a month and put $150 back in your pocket. Does your family eat out at a restaurant once a week? It’s difficult to pay less than $60 for a family of four, even at a modest family restaurant. By cooking four more meals, you’ve added another $240 to the mix. Doing without some luxuries is a simple way to boost your holiday budget.
6. Skip the Traditional Holiday Cards
With snail mail being mostly bills or advertisements these days, sending a holiday card might sound great. Between the cost of the cards and stamps, though, it can also be expensive. Depending on how many cards you send, you can easily spend around $100.
You can pocket that money instead by switching to digital cards. There are several websites that offer free e-cards. They provide multiple designs that you can customize with family pictures and music. You can create holiday cards from the comfort of your home and skip the stamp-buying trip to the post office.
7. Give the Gift of Time
If your budget is super tight this year, don’t worry. You can still give the ones you love a meaningful gift. This is a great opportunity to show people you care by giving them your time. For many folks, that’s the gift they would prefer anyway.
Is someone in your family a new parent? Consider offering a free night of babysitting, or offer to do a few loads of laundry. Do you have an elderly neighbor who struggles with chores or errands? Think about raking their leaves, shoveling their driveway, or picking up groceries. Lightening their load will mean so much more than giving them another trinket.
The holidays are a time to show the ones you love how much you appreciate them. That doesn’t require you to break the bank, though. Keep these tips in mind for gifts that your family — and your wallet — will love.