Healthy Living

Four Tips to Saving The Holiday Budget

Most people are getting creative this year to be able to buy all the gifts for the people who matter most. Unfortunately, holiday shopping is not as easy as attempting to save on car insurance by begging for more discounts from the car insurance companies. Shoppers have a tendency to wait until November to begin to think about the amount of money that will be required to purchase all the gifts for the people on their list.
Very few budget-conscious people will have saved money throughout the other 10 months of the year. There are some specific steps to take to maximize every dollar and save money in the holiday budget.

Establish a Budget

Only a select group of shoppers can ignore the need to set limits on the amount of money spent on gifts throughout the holiday season. The holiday budget must include the gifts associated with various parties, projects and donations that will be made before the end of the year.

  • Total amount – Gifts and donations given in previous years might be a valid starting place for the amount that will be spent in the current year.
  • Use cash – The entire amount of money should be withdrawn from bank accounts and held in cash. When people spend cash, they tend to spend 30 percent less overall. Use of credit cards can place a financial strain on the first quarter of the new year.
  • Per individual – Every holiday shopper has a basic gift limit for each individual. Gift budgets should detail how much money will be spent on each person, by name. The cash for each person should be placed in an envelope to enable the shopper to control the budget. Any extra money after a gift purchase can be saved for later.
  • Prioritize gifts – If the budget does not cover every gift, the wise holiday shopper will prioritize the most important gifts, such as those for immediate family.
  • Start early – Attempts to wait until the last week before Christmas to secure the best bargains can be a very costly approach to shopping. The rush to finish results in budget overruns.
  • Avoid extra gifts – In the effort to include everyone, the budget can be broken before the most important gifts are purchased. Additional gift purchases can be postponed until the other shopping is completed.

Not Necessarily New

Creative gift givers will use unconventional sources to find unique gifts for the people they know best. Collectors and do-it-yourselfers appreciate the items that are purchased from places where high-quality used items from yesteryear are found.

  • Antique mall – Every part of the country offers unique antique malls that contain a treasure trove for the person with some time to walk through the various booths. Ideas are gathered throughout the year, and a stroll through the antique mall yields great gifts at excellent prices.
  • Second-hand store – Before dismissing this idea, walk through a second-hand store that is run by one of the famous charities. Thrift stores are packed with great items at affordable prices. Some items have tags from major retail stores, which means they are new.
  • Online classifieds – Browsing major websites where people sell their gently used items can yield the perfect item for item from someone’s wish list. Shopping from the comfort of the home is more appealing that stomping through snow and cold in a crowded store parking lot.
  • Salvage store – One of the newer approaches to saving money is called a salvage store. The items in this type of store never sold on the primary retail market. All of the items are new, but the prices are ridiculously low.
  • Re-gift with care – Free items received from retailers can be used as gifts for someone who might appreciate the thought. Gifts received for previous occasions can be used to fill a need for another person. Just ensure that the recipient was not the original giver.

Service Instead of Stuff

Older people love to receive the gift of a loved one’s time. This idea is often overlooked as cheap or a “cop out.” Discussions with the older generations will yield important information about their needs, which can be filled without any money.
Imagine being able to spend an afternoon with someone talking about family history or their life experiences.

  • Give time – Make a coupon on a piece of paper that states willingness to spend four hours at the home of an older person. Maybe the need is for time together cooking or making something together. If this idea is offered to someone special, ensure that it happens before the end of March.
  • Perform a service – Adopt a neighbor that might need some help throughout the new year. Determine to help that person with something each week. Snow shoveling, grocery shopping or simply listening to old stories will do more for a heart than any material gift.
  • Establish a calendar – Prevent the slippage of time by buying a calendar and scheduling the first three instances at the time the gift is given. Busy people love to commit to too many appointments, but this effort will complete the idea.

Avoid Impulse Buys

Budget busters rarely happen intentionally. Savvy holiday shoppers will avoid those extra purchases that occur by waiting until the absolute last minute to buy priority gifts. Standing in a checkout line can result in many extra purchases that cause too much money to be spent.
Another cause of budget overruns is buying an item “just in case” someone else gives an unexpected gift. Not every gift must be reciprocated. Accept the kindness and do something for that generous person in the new year.
After completing the holiday shopping for the current year, commit to saving some money each month throughout the coming year to make next year’s shopping less expensive in the last quarter of the year. Simple financial discipline can prevent breaking the household budget in an effort to buy items most people do not need. Creativity is the most important aspect of the effort to give meaningful gifs to the people who matter most in life.

Author Bio: Cori T. loves the challenge of keeping her family in order while balancing two jobs as a fitness consultant and writer for auto insurance companies. She hates to see anyone go without a gift at Christmas!

Karla Urwitz
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