I know it is only September, but the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier every year. And with problems plaguing the retail sector right now, including labor shortages, lack of inventory, and eager consumers ready to spend, consumers are forced to start their holiday shopping sooner. If you are the type of person who likes to wait until the last minute, this year may not be your year.
Your biggest advantage this holiday season is the gift of time. The more time you have to shop, the more time you have to save money, gain the assurance in getting the gifts you want, and avoid the hassle and stress of scrambling to buy gifts at the last minute.
Get Started: Set a budget. It can be as simple as mapping out your holiday expenses on pen and paper or feel free to get fancy with an excel spreadsheet. Do not forget to include all the holiday parties and get-togethers. Those will have a cost as well.
To help stay on track, set clear expectations with family and friends this holiday season. You can still be generous and stay within your budget. Lift the pressure by providing alternative ways to show you care. Things like homemade gifts, a white elephant party, or even a holiday season without gifts can be well received by loved ones.
Get Free Shipping: There is a level of ease in shopping at home online and avoiding the crazy lines in the stores. If you can, time your purchases during sales earlier in the year or on Black Friday. The easiest way to save money is to only shop at stores that offer free shipping. Many online retailers provide free shipping if you spend a certain dollar amount in their store. You can also try and find coupons for your favorite retailers online.
New Traditions: When planning for financially smart holidays, look at your yearly traditions. Keep traditions that you can afford, but do not be afraid to adjust old traditions to make them budget-friendly. An easily modified tradition is gift gifting. As people grow older and become financially stable, they often need and want less. Instead of the traditional exchange of gifts, look at starting a secret Santa gift exchange or giving the gift of experience. Spending time with older loved ones may be just what they want, in lieu of gifts and tangible items.
After Holiday Sales: Many retailers discount things like wrapping paper, bows, gift bags, decorations, and Christmas cards right after the holiday. Take advantage of those discounts and stock up for the following year.
To set yourself up for a financially smart holiday, set aside monthly savings to spend throughout the holidays. You can do this year-round and stretch your budget. If it is too late to take advantage of this holiday budgeting hack for this holiday season, plan for the following year to build up savings that will fund your holiday spending splurge.