Tips for Saving in the Lead Up to the Holiday Season
Everyone wants to impress during the holidays. Whether it’s giving lavish gifts or going on a family holiday, budgeting for these events can quickly get out of hand. If you’ve got kids, your summer budget could be disrupted even further as you struggle to find enough activities to keep them entertained. So how can you juggle social events and your family as well as your finances this holiday season?
The below tips can help you find out how you can keep the holiday season as stress-free as possible this year.
1. Reassess your budget
I won’t bore you with how to create a budget (this one from MoneySmart is great if you need help getting started), but there are certain things that often get overlooked during the frenzy of the holiday period.
Everyone loves to see that they’ve stuck to their budget at the end of a hectic year, but more often than not, they’ve blown right through it. If this has happened to you on more than one occasion, it’s a sign that your budget may be too tight. Little to no wiggle room means that you’re stuck when it comes to last-minute purchases that exceed your budget. Take a careful look at your budget and reallocate where you can, especially if you find that you’re leaving a surplus in another area.
There’s so much to keep track of during the holidays that it’s easy to overlook the little things. You might have a budget for gifts, but do you have one for food, wrapping paper and cards? Take time to carefully go over everything you’ll need for an event, a day out or for holiday preparations. Overlooking the little things can easily mean that you’ll blow your budget.
2. Be a practical gifter
While there is the temptation to be extravagant with your gift giving, getting someone a practical gift means that you might end up spending less, and best of all, they’ll actually be able to use whatever you’ve given them.
Practical gifts don’t need to be “trendy” and you can often order them online from the comfort of your own home. Just make sure to order your gifts well in advance to leave plenty of time for shipping. And since you’ve organised your gifts early, you won’t need to make a mad dash to the shops to buy gifts that may have had their prices inflated before Christmas.
3. Don’t forget your gift cards
Chances are you’ve got a bunch of gift cards that only have a couple of dollars left on them. Bring those with you on your next shop. Whether you’re buying gifts, decorations or ingredients for Christmas dinner, those extra gift card dollars will add up, helping you save.
Ask the cashier to do a split payment as you’ll likely need to cover the remainder with your own cash. If you don’t know what your remaining balance is, most gift cards let you check it online.
Along with your gift cards, it’s easy to forget that your credit card may have a rewards program too. You can redeem the points that you earn for frequent flyer points, merchandise or credit on your account. If you’ve got a stash of points and you’re not sure what to spend it on, consider redeeming the points for merchandise or gift cards that you can give as a gift. This is a smarter way of spending on plastic.
4. Use nature’s power
With all the festive lights, events and extra laundry that you may have to do, the holiday season is likely to make a dent in your energy budget too. Take advantage of the warmer weather by drying your clothes on the line instead of in the dryer. If you hang them up in the morning they’ll be dry by just after lunch!
Reduce your air conditioning usage by closing the shutters on any windows that face the sun and opening any windows that are in the shade to promote air flow. At night, open the windows that are higher up to let the hot air escape. You may find that the house will be cool enough that you don’t need to use the air conditioner.
The holiday period can be stressful due to so many areas that need attention. Minimising your financial stress means you’ll have a smoother holiday period. Small actions such as paying close attention to your budget, giving practical gifts, using the remaining funds from your old gift cards and harnessing the warm weather for your energy usage will lessen the strain on your wallet as well as your stress levels.
Guest blog from Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at Finder.com.au