Shopping On a Budget During the Holidays

Shopping on a budget can be a hassle, especially during the holidays! It seems that there are endless dinner parties, holiday parties, and gifts to shop for. Here are 14 tips that will save you a lot of time and money during the holiday season (money that you’ll be able to put towards your after-holiday vacation!)

Online Deals

Is there a gift you have your eye on in-store? Before taking the plunge, go online to see what deals you can find. There are deals and savings that are online-only, so it makes sense to search and see if you can find a good deal online before you purchase big-ticket items. There are sales and deals every day, especially on big items (bed frames, grills, appliances, golf clubs).

Buy in Bulk

Big bulk stores can lead to big savings on supplies and food for large parties. If you know that you’ll be hosting large parties of people, save on food and serving utensils, dishes, and more by buying in bulk. Stock up on holiday essentials like hot cocoa, frozen dinner entrees, appetizers, plastic utensils, serving dishes, and more.

Don’t Procrastinate

Preparing ahead of the holiday season can save you a lot of time and money. Businesses are going to take advantage of last-minute situations, which will cost you more money. To avoid an expensive splurge, prepare well ahead of time. Begin planning your menu for your family dinner party as soon as possible, keep your eyes open for deals on potential gifts, and be aware of sales year-round.

Potluck Parties

Potluck parties are a reasonable solution for large parties. Instead of one friend or relative being responsible for all of the food, hosting, and costs, each person brings a dish to share. Food and parties can be a large expense during the holidays, and spreading the cost between people in a large group can cut down a lot of stress and spending for one person. Plus, you get to enjoy what each person brings to the table (literally!)

Generic/Inexpensive Brands

Buying generic brands can save money, and the products are often just as good as brand names. Try to find the most inexpensive products on items that guests won’t notice, like napkins, table cloths, decorations, small gifts, utensils, etc. You don’t need to purchase the best of the best for everything, especially if you’re willing to do a little bit of hunting for a good deal.

Thrift Store Sweater Parties

If you’re scrambling for a sleek and new party outfit, look no further than your local thrift store. If you’re looking for a cost-effective party outfit, consider hosting an “ugly sweater” party. You can go to any thrift store and hunt for the funniest or shocking sweater that will surprise your guests.

Set Your Spending Limit

You have to live within your means during December, just like you have to the other 11 months of the year. Make a list of all your holiday expenses gifts, food, travel, decorations, and plan on what you will spend on each section. Write down every person you’re buying gifts for, holiday parties you’re attending, the food you’re responsible for at each gathering, and other holiday expenses. Being organized will help you feel prepared for the holidays, and give you more control and a sense of security while spending.

Buy Last Years Electronics

Gifts are one of the biggest and most expensive spending areas during the holidays, and electronics are the most popular gifts. Because of Black Friday electronic deals, and tech companies that release newer models right before the holidays, there is plenty of new and flashy technology that you can purchase as a gift. However, last year’s electronics are often equal to brand new electronics in their quality and processing, so consider skipping the hype and save big bucks by purchasing last year’s model.

Save for Expensive Gifts

If you have a loved one that you’re planning to purchase an expensive gift for, begin your holiday budget sooner than normal. Setting aside a small amount of money each month is more reasonable and easier than a last-minute purchase. Your wallet will thank you.

Avoid Impulse Buying

It’s easier to spend money once you’re already shopping, so try to control your spending habits while you’re out shopping by consulting and sticking to your budget. Stores and online shopping have specific marketing to encourage you to buy more than you need to. Keep your sights on your pre-meditated spending limit, and save money by ignoring impulse purchases.

Get Creative

Save money and add meaning to your gifts by getting creative. Is there a hobby that will help you create something for your family and friends? You can make things like soap, jewelry, pottery, and paintings as a gift. These gifts add a personal touch, which will make it memorable and heartfelt. Food is another great gift. You can make things like peppermint bark, holiday cupcakes, fruit cakes, or other Pinterest inspired desserts. Perhaps a coupon to mow the lawn, or to babysit may be a more special gift card to your relatives. Use your imagination!

Go to the Dollar Store (especially for the kids on your gift list!)

If you have nieces, nephews, and small kids on your gift list, your first stop should be the dollar store. There is a wide selection of small and inexpensive gifts that kids will love. From coloring books, stuffed animals, picture books and more, the dollar store has a great selection for kids. A $1.00 dinosaur figurine is just as good as a $10.00 dinosaur figurine to a three-year-old.

Consider Secret Santa

Secret Santa has been the reasonable choice for large (or small) group gift-giving for years. Each person in your group receives the name of another person in the group, for whom they will purchase a gift. Set a spending limit to keep gifts in a reasonable range. This is an excellent solution for large families that want to give gifts to everyone, but can only afford one gift.

Consult the Finances of Past Holidays

Past purchases can teach us a lot about our spending habits and tendencies. Think about your budgeting from past years, or pull up your financial records. Are there items you spent more on than you remembered? You may be shocked to see how much you spent, but don’t let this scare you! Instead, let your past holiday purchases inform you how to adjust your budget this year. Do you need to raise the budget for gifts, and lower the budget for decorations? Let your past budgets sculpt your budget today.

The more you take control of your finances, the more in control you will be this holiday season. Let your budgeting and wise spending do the work for you, so you can enjoy your holiday!

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