10 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Holiday Season

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The happiest time of the year is upon us; for many, it is also the most expensive. If you’re worried about paying for holiday gifts, decor, food, and other items this year, you’re definitely not alone.

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In 2021, consumers expected to spend an average of $998 on Christmas gifts and other items, according to the National Retail Federation. This included $648 in gifts, $231 in Christmas items such as food and decor, and $118 in non-gift purchases for themselves or family members.

This may seem like a lot; but, due to inflation, the number will likely increase even more in 2022. Over the past 12 months (to October 12), the consumer price index for all items has increased by 8.2 % (before seasonal adjustment), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to save money while on vacation, without sacrificing anything on your list. Here are seven expert money-saving tips that can help you stick to your budget this season.

Start by paying the bills

“Take care of your basic needs — rent, utilities, groceries — and then you’ll know what you need to spend on everything else,” said Keith Sultemeier, CEO of Kinecta Federal Credit Union.

Also, if you have variable rate debt, he suggested trying to consolidate it with fixed rate personal loans. Depending on your situation, this could allow you to reduce your monthly payments or pay off your debts more quickly.

Set a gift shopping budget and track purchases

Going on vacation without a shopping plan or budget is a quick way to overspend and get into debt,” said nationally recognized consumer credit expert Andrea Woroch. “Spend time now before the holidays reviewing your finances to see what you can afford and develop a giving strategy where you figure out who you are buying for and how much to spend per person.”

She suggested using an app like The Gift List or Santa’s Bag to create a shopping plan and manage your budget in one place, so you don’t overdo it.

Use rewards to increase your shopping budget

“Take advantage of free loyalty programs to earn cashback as well as exclusive savings on various vacation purchases,” Woroch said.

She suggested using Fetch Rewards to earn points toward free Amazon, Target, and Walmart gift cards.

“You can then use these gift cards to pay for gifts or give real gifts, without tapping into your bank account,” she said.

Plus, if you’re paying for purchases with a credit card, she recommends knowing which card you’re using, to maximize rewards.

Find money in your budget

“Spend time reviewing your bills to see if you can cancel extra services you don’t need or use,” Woroch said, “or compare rates with your competitors to see if you can save on your bill by switching.”

For example, she recommended using an insurance comparison site like The Zebra to find ways to lower your car insurance.

Monitor sales on daily purchases

Saving money during the holiday season isn’t just about finding deals on gifts, decor, and other season-specific items. Shelley Hunter, consumer gift card expert at Giftcards.com, says the more you can save on everyday items, the more you’ll have for holiday shopping.

“For example, layer your purchases with offers and promotions, especially those that give you a reward,” she said. “For example, many people who buy gift cards may do so through promotions that reward shoppers after the initial purchase with another gift card that they can use to treat themselves, buy something they need, offer again or even donate.”

Diversify your purchases

If you’re like most people, you probably have a preferred mode of shopping, but Hunter said being willing to switch things up can save you money.

“Shop online, in-store and even in-app,” she said, “since retailers can offer different promotions through different shopping channels.”

Stepping out of your shopping comfort zone could open your eyes to a whole new favorite way to shop; but, anyway, you won’t regret the savings.

Spread out your purchases and start early

Getting a head start on your shopping and checking off items on your list at a steady pace can help you feel productive, while racking up savings.

“Retailers will be running deals throughout the holiday season, and some promotions may overshadow others,” Hunter said. “Shopping during Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday, and throughout the season will not only help you spread your budget, but it will also help you get the most bang for your buck for the products and services you end up buying. to buy.”

Don’t forget the hidden costs

While most of us think about our budget for gifts, it’s easy to overlook the cost of trips to see family, shopping for ingredients to throw that perfect holiday dinner, or buying the perfect outfit for New Years Eve,” said Michelle Riiska, ChFC, Financial Planning. Service Consultant at eMoney Advisor. “Be sure to leave some wiggle room for these expenses in your overall budget.”

Budgeting for overlooked expenses will both reduce your stress levels and help you avoid going over budget this year.

To show creativity

It may sound cliché, but the best gifts truly come from the heart.

“Showing others you care doesn’t require expensive gifts,” Riiska said. “Thoughtful cards, homemade gifts, or shared experiences can be hugely meaningful, without breaking the bank.”

Start the trip early

If you know you’ll be traveling during the holidays, planning ahead can pay off with lower airfares and hotel prices,” Riiska said. “In the United States, the cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Not only can this help you save money, but it can also secure your prime travel dates and accommodations.

Hope these tips help you save enough money to get everything you need – and more – this holiday season. In fact, you might even be able to incorporate some of these ideas into your daily life to save money throughout the year.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 10 Tips for an Economical Holiday Season

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