The holidays are almost upon us, with weeks of celebrations, gift-giving, and eating a little bit too much stretching out ahead. The cost of all this merriment can soon add up though, with consumers in the US planning to spend an average of almost $1,000 on gifts alone this year, not including food, decorations, and other related spending. This is on top of the average spending of almost $200 per person on Thanksgiving, and $25 on Halloween.
With such eye-watering sums, everyone could use a helping hand to aid them in keeping hold of more of their cash. Here are some holiday money-saving tips.
Planning ahead for what you’ll need will give you time to buy everything. Write a list of all the people you need to buy gifts for and ideas of what you think you might get for them. You can also list out the food and decorations you’ll need to buy.
Planning ahead gives you time to shop around and find the best prices for each of the items on your list.
Leaving everything until the day before will result in you having to rush, and likely spend more than you needed to.
Take Advantage of Promotions and Discounts
Companies focus a lot of their resources on trying to get you to spend money on their products and services. One way that they do this is by offering promotions and discounts in the hopes that the lower price will convince you to buy.
If you remain aware of this while shopping, you can turn it to your advantage. Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts on the products that you would normally buy and the things on your list.
An example that works year-round is that, when you find your favorite toothpaste on offer in your local supermarket, you should stock up.
Since you can safely store it without it spoiling, you can take advantage of this discount by buying several tubes instead of one. This works with tinned and dried goods, some drinks, and kitchen consumables like foil. Over time, all these small savings will begin to add up.
In the run up to the big day(s), use this technique to buy the things you’ll need instead of saving it all up for the last minute when prices will likely be higher and you’ll be in a rush.
It’s not just food either, you can find promotions for just about everything. For example, if you enjoy wagering on sports, you can take advantage of free bet promotions from bookmakers to make your money go further. Similarly, restaurants and delivery services often run periodic promotions, so if you’re looking to go out for a meal or get a takeaway delivered, you can use these to spend less.
Once all the celebrations are over, head back to the shops and stock up on decorations, greetings card, wrapping paper, and other items that can be stored until next year. These are usually heavily discounted at the end of December and beginning of January.
Don’t Fall for False “Deals”
While you can always find plenty of great savings, you should also be aware of promotions that look great, but aren’t really any cheaper. Companies can jack up their prices for a few weeks before the holidays and then “discount” them to make it look like shoppers are getting a great deal. When in reality, they’re just paying the normal price.
Use sites like CamelCamelCamel to see the price history of products. This lets you understand if a price offered on Amazon today is actually a good deal or whether you should wait to see if it drops lower.
You can even set price alerts so you can be notified when a price has dropped below your desired amount.
Other great comparison sites include Keepa, Savelist and Fetchee, each with their own great features.
Organize a Secret Santa
Secret Santa is a great way to cut the amount you and your loved ones spend on presents, while all still showing each other that you care. You can each agree to a spending limit and/or a minimum amount, ensuring it’s fair for everyone.
Then, draw names at random, so everyone has one person that they need to buy a gift for. Later, you can all come together and put your Secret Santa gifts on a table or under the tree. Then, you can all open your presents together.
Be Smart With Leftovers
Using a shopping list should help keep you from going overboard on the food shopping, but it’s still really easy to get carried away. Especially when there are so many delicious looking things on supermarket shelves.
No matter how many people you have come for dinner, there’s always food left over. It doesn’t need to go to waste though; keep it in the refrigerator or freezer and you can use it for more meals.
There are plenty of recipes online that can tell you what to do with leftover turkey, including turkey curries, paninis, pies, salads, and soups.
Even if you can’t face any more turkey for a little while, freezing it will keep it fresh for a long time, so when you’ve got over your over indulgence on poultry, you can use it for something else.
Find Cheap and Free Entertainment
Love watching movies over the holidays? Then why not take advantage of a free trial from streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and more. Use them consecutively to get several months of free movies and TV shows so you can keep binge-watching into the new year.
This means you don’t need to get an expensive cable or satellite TV subscription or stock up on a loads of DVDs or Blu-Rays to stay entertained over the holidays.
Plan for Next Year
Ok, it won’t help you this year, but it will create a good habit that can help you out next year and into the future. Once the festivities are over, begin planning your celebrations 12 months in advance.
Set a budget and then plan to save 11 installments from January to November. This way, you’ll be sure you have the funds to celebrate how you want.