You swear this is the year you’re going to watch how much you spend on holiday gifts. But then your credit card bill comes in and you’re flummoxed. You spent how much?!?! I get it. The holidays are a time that takes a hit on our wallets. That's why today's post is all about holiday financial tips. These tips will help you manage your money this season and in future seasons to come.
The best holiday financial tips to rely on this season
#1 — Make a detailed list
Do you know exactly who you need to get gifts for this year? If not, make a list. If yes, still make a list. Making a list is the best way to ensure you won’t miss anyone. But go beyond just writing down their names. Make a detailed list. Does anyone have a wishlist? Ask them to share it if they do. If they don’t, ask them what they want.
Write down any specific gifts next to the person’s name. This way you not only know who to buy for, but what to buy for them. This will make shopping easier and faster because you have a starting point. Encourage friends and family to make a wishlist. There are tons of sites to help with this like GiftHero, Giftster, and of course, Amazon.
#2 — Set a gift limit
Setting a gift limit per person is one of those holiday financial tips that will save you a lot of money. No matter how many people you have on your list, set a limit. Too often we forget that it’s not the number of gifts we give, but the gift itself. For example, you can limit your spouse to four gifts and your sister-in-law to two.
Does this mean you spend more on those people with a lower number of gifts? Not necessarily. The purpose of setting gift limits is so you can keep track of what you’re getting for each person. This is why shared wishlists are a great resource. You can get the set number of gifts and make sure they’re getting what they want. Win-win.
#3 — Pay in cash
Credit cards, tap pay, and more have made buying items quick and painless. But using those methods means you spend more money than you want to. That’s why one of my favorite holiday financial tips is to pay in cash. You don’t have to pay in cash for everything you buy, but it helps. There’s an interesting method called the Cash Envelope System. YouTuber Jazmine Waller talks about this a lot on her channel, Budget Treasures. Definitely worth a watch.
When you restrict yourself to cash, you’re at the mercy of what you have in hand. That’s why putting together a list with specific items is a great way to know how much you’ll need when you go shopping. What if the item is only available online? Then you can pay with a credit card, but watch yourself. If possible, try to find the item in the store. Or order it online and have them ship it to the store so you can pay with cash then. Make using your credit card the last possible option.
#4 — Don’t buy in a rush
One of the worst things you can do is buy in a rush. What do I mean? I mean clamoring to buy everything at once and in a short amount of time. Yes, you want to get holiday shopping out of the way, but it's never good to buy in a rush. It'll overwhelm your brain and force you to make bad spending decisions.
Instead, task batch your buying. If you know a few people on your list who want something similar, purchase them all at the same time. Saving everything for the last minute will only get you to overspend. Have a plan of attack. If you take a day trip to the mall, have your list and cash ready to go. Know ahead what stores you need to go in. If you don’t find everything that day, try again next week. Pace yourself!
#5 — Avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Raise your hand if your inbox was overflowing with Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails from every company and brand under the sun? While Black Friday deals are enticing, studies have shown the markdown of these items doesn’t make much of a difference in the end. Not to mention, most items on sale are items companies are eager to get rid of so you’re not really getting a deal. Small businesses are your better resource for Black Friday deals. They want to draw in new customers, not get rid of unwanted stock.
#6 — Consider making gifts
There’s nothing more generous than a handmade gift. Not only do they hold more sentimental value, but they’re also cheaper. Of all the holiday financial tips, making handmade gifts is often overlooked. Mainly because people don't plan ahead. If you want to make handmade gifts you need time to plan out the gift, buy the supplies, and make it. Handmade gifts can be anything from journal collages, baked goods, a painting, or a book of poems you wrote. The possibilities are endless and the person receiving the gift will cherish it for years to come.
#7 — Opt for experience gifts
If you’re at a complete loss about what to get someone, experience gifts are vastly becoming super popular. Experience gifts are small but mighty. They can be concert tickets, cooking classes, theater tickets, or sports tickets. While this type of gift is more expensive, it’s something the person will remember because they’ll get to "experience" it with people they love. So if you know someone who wants to see a specific band play, check their tour dates. Buy tickets to the next home football game. Have a paint night together. Experience gifts truly do last a lifetime.
#8 — Find some seasonal work
If you’re strapped for cash this season because of the ongoing effects of the pandemic, it might be worthwhile to find seasonal work. This time of year retailers and delivery companies like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon is always on the hunt for help. This is their busiest time of year and they can use all the help they can get.
Choosing to find seasonal work doesn’t mean you’re in a pinch. Helping out during the holidays is a great learning experience. Not to mention you get discounts on the in-store items. It’s also a great way to start saving for next year which we’ll talk about in a moment. So look to see what local stores are in need of help. A few weeks of your time will be a tremendous relief on their shoulders.
#9 — Start saving for next year
Finally, if you want the cherry of all holiday financial tips, you should start saving for next year now. If possible, keep track of how much you spent this year and use that as your baseline for next season. This will allow you to create a budget. Set aside $10 a week or $100 a month, whatever you can do.
By starting to save for next year as soon as possible you won’t have to worry about digging into your reserve. Save the cash in an envelope with the word “Holiday Spending” on it. Tuck it somewhere safe and whenever you can, throw a few bucks in there. Or set aside a certain amount in your bank account for holiday spending. Whatever you do, start saving now.
Remember that the holiday season is about spending time with family. Still, the importance of gifts and money will be at the back of your brain. If you’ve already completed your list, try these tips next year. If not, give a few a try. I promise you they’ll make buying gifts a little less stressful.
And if you’re in need of more tips and tricks, feel free to contact me. While I can’t stop you from spending money, I can definitely help you get everything organized.
Do you have any holiday financial tips that you swear by? Do you tend to overspend during this time of year?