This is a blog swap post from LaTisha at Financial Success for Young Adults where she writes about investing for college students, budgeting and tips for a successful career. Check out my post over at her site today Money Saving Holiday Tips.
Are you ready for the holidays? It seems like this year has gone by so fast and we are already into the holiday season. It all starts with back to school in my opinion. The stores start gearing up to push as much stuff as they can into your shopping bag and get as much as they can out of your wallet. Then on top of that, there are gift exchanges, holiday parties, and charitable organizations. The best way to save money during the holidays is to see the potential budget breakers coming and be ready.
The first place that a store will try to get you into the mood to spend money is on a holiday commercial. They start with some themed holiday music and show happy families on Christmas day or around the table at Thanksgiving. You see this and your mind starts thinking about planning the holidays even though it’s only October!
How to Fight it: If you realize that these commercials will be showing whether you like it or not, the best way to fight it is to plan your schedule ahead of time. Take note of when you will start putting together your meal plan, schedule your time to go shopping. If you plan your own schedule you won’t have to worry about commercials rushing you into the holidays unprepared. Look for coupons on sites like Answers.com coupons to save some money on things that you really need to buy.
In Store Decorations
I have to admit that I love when the stores start to decorate for the holidays. You may see some blue and white or red and green, even orange and brown. Those colors signal that the stores are gearing up for their holiday sales campaign. The idea is that you will go from the store to your house and notice the drastic difference in colors and knick knacks and go back to stock up on all sorts of frillery. (I don’t think that is a word but it really captures the ‘frills’ visual)
How to Fight it: Buy your decorations after the season is over when they will be half price or otherwise deeply discounted. Resist the urge to buy new decorations each year and after a few years you will have all of the decorations you need to get in the holiday spirit.
Whether these are mandatory or impromptu, they have the potential to push you over your budget limit. Some you don’t even see coming. The last minute office exchange that should be a 5 dollar limit but turns into ‘let’s outdo each other’.
How to Fight it: This is a great place to put to use your holiday shopping skills. There are plenty of inexpensive ‘nice’ gift options that are available to you. When you go into your favorite store, the sales are usually in the back. Wal-mart has a discontinued aisle with brand new stuff that they just don’t plan to stock anymore. Those items are all discounted. And also remember that a simple gift card works as well.
We get the letters each year. The local charity is stopping by to pick up your old clothes and any donations. There are the bell ringers outside the stores, kids raising money for food drives and even people running in the cold weather so kids with terminal illnesses can go to Disney World. (Hint Hint 🙂 ) But this is the best part about the holidays.
How to Fight it: If you are strapped for cash already, make sure to create a charitable giving budget so that you can stick to it. Remember that if you want to write your donations off on your taxes, they have to go to a 501©3 organization. Make sure to get a receipt and give until your heart bursts. That is what the holidays are for, sharing with everyone around you.
What techniques do you use to stick to a holiday budget?