The clock is a-ticking and the holidays are near. Gifts you’re a-picking, and your wallet shakes in fear. Sound familiar? Fear not! Follow these simple tips to save up a little extra green and make sure your holiday gift-giving doesn’t break the bank.
Here are 11 ways you can to stash some cash for gift-giving fun. Some tips will help you scrounge up a little extra cash this year, others will give you a great jump-start on next year’s holiday fund.
Start a penny jar:
Pay with cash as often as possible and empty your pockets of loose change each evening. If you prefer to use cards to pay for purchases, check into savings apps or see if your bank has a round-up savings program that allows you to round up each transaction and automatically deposit your change into a savings account. Whichever path you choose, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your money adds up!
Make a commitment for next year:
Give up a couple small treats a week. This can be a couple coffee shop lattes or sodas. Then, stash the money you saved on extras in a “not to be raided” box or savings account. Once Thanksgiving rolls around next year, you’ll have a nice, healthy fund to dip into for holiday gifts!
Pack a brown bag lunch:
You, like most people, probably don’t think much about little expenses. Things like grabbing a salad for lunch at the local cafe a couple times a week seem minimal, but those small purchases really add up! Pack a lunch a couple times a week and stash the money you’d normally spend on cafe food in a savings account. Saving just $10 to $20 a week adds up quickly and will give you a little extra cushion when the holidays roll around.
Make Saving a Family Effort:
Open a special savings account just for holiday funds and challenge your entire family to add to it. Even young children can be encouraged to save a portion of their allowances or forego a special treat, and it’s a great way to teach the value of saving money at a young age. Keep track of each person’s contributions and distribute the money in time for gift-buying next year.
Don’t save all your cleaning for the spring! Clear out your closets and gut the garage. Then, gather up unused household items and clothing and hold a garage sale! Use any money you make for holiday shopping and donate any unsold items to a local shelter or charity to brighten up someone else’s holiday this year.
Set a Goal (and Stick to It!):
Goals shouldn’t be reserved for new year’s resolutions! As you prepare for next year’s holiday season, set a monetary goal and be diligent about putting aside enough money each week to reach your goal by this time next year. It doesn’t matter if you set aside $5 or $20 at a time – building a savings habit is what’s important.
Spread Out Your Shopping:
People tend to spend a lot of cash all at once throughout the holiday season. Between gifts, travel, entertaining friends and family and even new household items that you want to snag while their on sale, it’s easy to see how we all get a little tapped out. Some costs are immovable, but shopping for gifts isn’t! Rather than waiting to buy all your gifts during the holiday season, stockpile items that you find on sale throughout the year to lessen the financial burden.
Focus on Experiences and Sentiment:
It’s easy to get caught up in gift-giving because it’s fun! But rather than going overboard with material things, consider getting one gift that’s a great experience (concert tickets, an airline voucher, etc), plus a handful of small items that are $5 or less. The memories made with your experience gift will be worth more than any material item and buying one larger item makes it easier to budget. If you fancy yourself a crafty person, you should also consider cutting costs by diving into Pinterest and coming up with some fun handmade gift ideas! Personalized items are truly one of a kind and are sure to warm the hearts of their recipients.
Barter with Friends:
The old adage, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know can help you come up with truly unique and affordable gift ideas. Do you have a friend that’s a beer brewer and a husband who loves a good unique brew? Or a cousin who refinishes furniture and a wife who would love to have a rustic coffee table for the living room? Take stock of the talents of your close friends and family members and offer up your own handiwork in exchange for a unique gift item. If you don’t have an in-demand skill, see if you can trade for a night of babysitting or if they’d be willing to honor a friends and family discount.
Set Aside Tax Refund Money:
Lots of people get a decent refund from their annual taxes. While it can be tempting to spend it on household goods or projects, setting aside a small amount as an initial deposit into your holiday savings can be a great idea. Decide on a percentage you can sacrifice and move it directly into a “hands off” savings account that you only tap into when the most wonderful (and expensive!) time of the year rolls around.
If it’s too late to make much of a dent in this year’s cash situation, make an early New Year’s resolution to begin your painless savings routine early next year and enjoy less cash-strapped holiday season!
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