The holiday shopping season is rapidly approaching and this may leave you feeling just a tad bit stressed about everything you need to buy. With a mounting list of gifts for your partner, your nieces and nephews, and of course, those white elephant presents for the company holiday party – it’s enough to make your head spin.
“How can I afford all this?” you may wonder. One way to ease the stress is to sock money away now for your holiday shopping. Here are 10 ways to start saving money today.
1. Automate your savings
Don’t rely on willpower alone to get you started. Instead, automate your savings and set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account to your savings account. This way you’ll grow your savings account every time you get paid. Even if it’s just $20 a month, this will still help you boost your savings. Plus, if you’re a Chime member you can automatically save 10 percent after every payday, and you can save even more by taking advantage of Chime’s round up program.
2. Create a budget
A lot of overspending and holiday debt happens because consumers haven’t created a budget and adequately prepared for the holiday season. So, come up with a holiday shopping budget and work backwards on meeting that goal. For example, if you need to save $1,000 and have two months to do this, try to save $500 per month.
3. Use coupons
Before you buy anything, you should always check to see if there are any coupons you can use to lower the price. But don’t worry, you don’t need to scour the newspaper and get out the scissors! You can use Honey, a program that automatically applies coupons to your online shopping cart. You can also check out sites like RetailMeNot to find coupons and deals.
4. Look for holiday bargains
During the holiday shopping season, retailers often tout great deals and sales. You can check out sites like UncommonGoods.com, Overstock.com and OrientalTrading.com for some sweet holiday deals, as well as unique gift ideas. For other sites, it can pay to do your research ahead of time to see what holiday bargains you can score. A little research can go a long way to helping you save money!
5. Cut out one thing
One of the best ways to save money is to eliminate something from your budget. If you’re saving money for holiday shopping, you may think you need to take drastic measures. But that’s not realistic and can backfire! Instead, focus on one thing you can cut out until the holidays roll around. For example, can you give up Starbucks from now until the holidays? Can you go on a restaurant ban until Christmas? Find something in your budget that is a “want” and cut it out. It’s only temporary. This will free up some money for you to spend on your gifts.
6. Save on shipping
Shopping online can certainly make your life easier. But shipping costs can add up quickly. Before buying anything online, check out sites like RetailMeNot to see if there are free shipping codes available. Of course, you don’t want to spend extra money just to get free shipping, but if you have a large shopping list, these free shipping codes make sense.
7. Use cash or your debit card
After creating a budget for your holiday shopping, this will give you a sense of how much you can afford to spend. In order to stick to this budget, consider using cash or a debit card when shopping. This way you can avoid holiday debt and spend only what you have available in your bank account.
8. Start early
When you’re rushing and things are last-minute, it’s easy to make mistakes and pay for convenience. Yet, aside from budgeting money, it’s important to budget time too. Going to the mall on December 23rd, for example, can lead to stress and you may end up paying more just so you can quickly get out of the stores. And, if you’re shopping online, you may be forced to pay a lot more for express shipping, instead of paying a fraction of that for standard shipping. So, give yourself the gift of time so you can save money.
9. Put it off the ‘gram
You know all those great group photos you took and put on the ‘gram? Get it off the ‘gram and go to your local Walgreens to print out those photos. You can get an affordable frame and voila: affordable gift. For about $5, I got a photo printed and a frame at the local dollar store and had a cute gift for my family. It was meaningful and a nice keepsake. Remember, sometimes simple is better!
10. Buy gift cards at a discount
A 2017 survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics found that gift cards continue to be popular gifts. The survey found that 59 percent of consumers planned to give a gift card, and gift card spending was projected to be a whopping $27.6 billion dollars. One of the best tips to save money on gift cards is to buy them at a discount. Check out sites like CardPool.com and Raise.com to score gift cards at discounted rates.
Want some of the best ways to save money during the holidays? Use these 10 tips to help you stay on track. These money saving ideas will help you stick to you budget and avoid holiday debt.
And remember: While the holidays can be stressful, starting to save and prepare now can help you get through the season without the added financial stress.