Conventional wisdom states that the holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year,” full of gift-giving, celebrating, and spending quality time with loved ones. All of this is true, but the holiday season is also a time of heavy spending! Here are some tips on how to have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season without waking up to a huge financial hangover in the New Year.
- Do your research online before heading out the door. The internet makes it easy to compare prices on items you want to buy, with many major retailers listing the prices of their goods on their websites. You can also look for special online only deals on websites like Amazon or eBay; you could even save money on gas if the goods are delivered right to your door.
- Plan out your spending budget ahead of time, and stick to it! It is easy to go overboard with holiday shopping, especially when buying gifts for loved ones, but planning in advance and having strong shopping discipline are crucial. Calculate how much money you can afford to spend before you make any purchases, and if you use credit cards be sure to have a plan for paying them off by March 1st at the latest. Paying the interest on your credit cards for a month or two is acceptable, but allowing the debt to accumulate month after month can be disastrous.
- Give the gift of time! Instead of spending exuberant amounts of money on material gifts, you can give your loved ones the gift of your time by making custom holiday cards or presents, by offering your services (such as babysitting) instead of a material gift, or by taking your loved ones to a special event that is cheap or free to attend. For instance, you can take your family to see the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls, where there is no admission fee!
If you follow these three easy steps you are sure to save money during the busy holiday season, and trust me, you will be glad you did once those credit card bills roll around in the New Year!