11 Ways To Save Money This Holiday Season
The holiday season is here, and for many, it means the season of spending — but it doesn’t have to mean overspending. Check out our financial tips to enjoy budget-friendly holidays.
Try these tips to keep your holiday spending in check and only buy what you can afford:
1. Assess Your Savings
Do a deep dive into your essential expenses and determine how much money is available for holiday spending.
2. Review Your Current Debt and Available Credit
Before you pull out your credit cards to cover your holiday shopping costs, pause to consider how much you can really afford to spend. Be honest with yourself about how much debt you can pay off in a reasonable amount of time. Set holiday spending limits and stick to them.
3. Make a List of People You're Giving Gifts To
Go into the holidays with a clear idea of who you're shopping for to ensure you are being intentional with your budget. Gifts are sure to be among your biggest expenses during the holiday season, so prepare ahead of time. Make a list of each family member and friend you are planning to give a gift to. Estimate how much you think you'll spend on each person. Compare the total to your spending limit and be ready to adjust. The more detailed your holiday budget, the better off you will be once the shopping has begun.
4. Give Fun Experiences Instead of Physical Gifts
With inflation taking a toll on tangible items, take the opportunity to give an experience or activity instead of a physical gift. Whether the fun is outside, like snowshoeing in the mountains, or inside and cozy, like a paint-and-sip class, it's sure to create amazing memories.
5. Consider Gift Cards
Another great way to combat inflation is with gift cards. They can keep the cost of gifts down by staying true to the budget, and you won't have to worry about taxes or shopping around for the best price; it's a win-win on both sides.
BECU is partnering with Black Black Friday this year: You can buy a $50 pre-paid card for only $40, or $100 gift card for only $80 and shop locally for a greater value while the promotion lasts.
6. Identify Travel Expenses
One large expense of the holiday season is often traveling. Whether via airplane, car or train, most people spend more during the busiest travel time of the year. Add up all your costs, including accommodations, gas, rental cars, ride shares and holiday and winter activities, so you have a realistic view of your spending ahead of time.
7. Plan for Last-Minute Gifts
Surprise expenses are sure to arise, like getting invited to a last-minute holiday party, or an unexpected guest joining the family for celebrations. Allot a section of your budget for last-minute gifts. If you don't end up needing it, roll over the money to next year's holiday budget and start strong — or use the money to pay off credit card debt.
8. Search for the Best Prices
Many retailers (including travel companies) advertise special promotions and deals to celebrate and encourage holiday spending. But beware. Not all deals will save you money. Compare prices and search for places that price match to get the lowest price and best value. Search for promo codes that can reduce online shopping and even food delivery costs. There are several websites that track these deals. Check out CouponCabin, RetailMeNot and SlickDeals.
9. Account for Costs of Homemade Gifts
While getting crafty can definitely save you money, DIY gifts still come with a cost. Add up your expenses for materials and think about the value of your time.
10. Include Charitable Giving in Your Budget
Charitable giving this time of year is a great way to give back and support your community in a big way. Make sure to add your donation amount to your holiday expense budget for future use. Even better: Include charitable giving in your year-round budget.
11. Watch Out for Scams
While a lot of retailers and online shops offer enticing promotions this time of year, beware of copycat sites and phishing scams that can put your personal information at risk.
Plan for Next Year
Once the holidays have ended, take a look at your budget and start preparing for the next holiday season. Adding the holiday expense category to your monthly budget in 2024 will ease preparations next November.
Consider opening a separate savings account or BECU Envelope and contributing to it every month to save for the holidays all year. You can set up direct deposit or automatic transfer to the account. By the time the next holiday shopping season arrives, you will already have the money you need.
With these tips, you'll be well on your way to the best holiday season yet. Preparing your holiday budget ahead of time will help you spend with intention and keep you on track toward your financial goals.