Saving for the holidays – How to plan your gift giving

/ Saving and Budgeting, Uncategorized

It’s hard to have a happy holiday when you’re stressed about money. If you haven’t already started putting money aside for your gift giving, below are a few tips on how to save up before a shopping spree.

  • The first step in any savings plan, no matter what the goal or timeframe, is looking at your budget. Begin with your monthly budget for December. Is there anything you can cut back on for this month? The season of giving might mean skipping your morning coffee shop run or postponing a night on the town. Even short-term sacrifices can mean big savings.
  • Your new holiday budget will incorporate your regular monthly costs, holiday-related costs (travel, lodging, cookies for your work party, etc.) and what you have available to spend on gifts. Looking at your revised budget, is there any remaining wiggle room? Consider carpooling to Grandma’s house, staying with friends or relatives instead of a hotel and making food instead of buying it. Those savings will add up and go toward your shopping fund!
  • Make a list of who you’d like to buy gifts for before you go shopping and consider breaking that list into tiers if you don’t want to spend as much on your Secret Santa as you do on your spouse or best friend. Browse sale fliers or the Internet to get some ideas for gifts before hitting the stores. Impulse buys typically equal wasted money.
  • Consider people on your gift list who would appreciate your services instead of a new sweater or gadget. Cleaning the house, cooking a meal or babysitting can be low or no cost to you but in high demand to loved ones! Making up a card or certificate listing what you’ll do is a nice gesture. Who wouldn’t love receiving a punch card for five free house cleanings?
  • If you can’t stick to your list, at least stick to your budget; when gift-spiration strikes at the store, consider a swap instead of an addition. It’s fine to change your mind about what you’re getting someone, but remember how any cost differences will affect your overall budget.

Holiday gifting doesn’t have to break your bank. Set a realistic budget, stay organized and stay in the spirit of the season!