Tuesday, 11 November 2014

6 Money-Saving Strategies for the Holiday Season

There is no time of year I love more than the holiday season. I love the Christmas carols, the smells of cinnamon and pine, the time with family, the decorations - in my book, it's all awesome! But this is also the time of year where panic usually sets in because I know I have to budget for Christmas spending and figure out where the money is going to come from.

However, for the first time in many years, we are going into the holiday season with a real plan. Because we started The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitnessa few months ago, I've already been saving every week. It feels good to know that we will have enough money saved so we won't be strapped for cash or using credit to purchase gifts this year.

6 Money-Saving Strategies for the Holiday Season:

1. Save NOW
I am posting this on November 11th so that means you have over a month to start putting away a little money each pay period to build a bit of savings to get ready for your holiday shopping. This might mean you have a few less lattes, and sell a few items online, but save and make it happen. Ideally, if you can buy a little all year, it won't be such a tight crunch when Christmas rolls around.

2. Start a list
Sit down and figure out who you HAVE to buy for and determine a set amount for each person. Even if you think Timmy is going to look so adorable in that Rudolph sweater, avoid buying more than you budgeted for. I start gathering ideas for my kids as soon as they start spewing out ideas. I keep a list on my phone so it's handy when I need to add to it, and I can wait for deals when they come up.

3. Don't buy for every person you know
I know we tend to think that we need to buy for more people than we really need to. Is it necessary to buy for extended family, all your co-workers and the florist? Learn to draw the line! If these people ARE important to you, why not send them a beautiful card with a heart-felt note? That means so much more than some chocolates or cheese log anyway.

4. Think strategically
Keep your eyes peeled for sales. Buy online IF you can get great deals and free shipping. Cyber Monday can have some crazy cool deals  - this year it falls on December 1st. Mark your calendars. For online shopping, I love Zulily and Amazon.com! Use money-saving apps like Checkout 51 or Coupgon, and use your rewards points (see tip below).

*** This is a really awesome tip for those of you in Canada. While I was shopping at The Real Canadian Superstore a few months ago, I mentioned how much I love the PC Plus Program. The clerk said her mom saves all her points throughout the year so she can redeem them at Christmas time to purchase a majority of her gifts. I totally snagged the idea! I have almost $100 in points saved up (I started a few months ago). I highly recommend you get this app and card, especially if you're buying groceries there anyway. Most weeks they will give you an automatic 25,000 pts ($25) if you spend $250 on groceries. This is on top of the points you get from purchasing selected items!

5. Make homemade gifts
Even before I was a money-saving machine, I often made homemade gifts for neighbours, teachers, daycare workers, etc. because I feel like it means more. Last year we made this awesome, DYI Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix from Seeded at the Table. We packaged them in mason jars wrapped up all pretty-like, and gave them to our closest neighbours. The ingredients were fairly inexpensive and it made quite a large amount. We even made a batch to keep in our cupboards. It lasted a long time!

6. Do your research
If you want to make sure you're buying quality products, check out online reviews. You can also check out what stores are having deals from the convenience of your computer or smart phone. Most of your favourite retailers have emails you can sign up for which notify you when they have promotions.

Stick to your plan, start early, and don't forget what this time of the year is really all about. What are some of your money-saving strategies for Christmas?

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