In almost every industrialized country in the world, December is the most expensive month of the year. Some of that has to do with cold weather raising energy costs and factors like that but much of it has to do with holiday spending.
Year after year individuals and families alike overspend on Christmas and may not even realize it until January. Gifts, parties, traveling, hosting family- it adds up fast.
Common Cents (Mondays at 1:30 p.m. on 93.3) covered the topic last week. Below are five specific tips. Click on the Mixcloud link to hear even more helpful hints.
Stores and shopping malls have existed a long time and make their money by knowing how to entice shoppers. If you go in without a plan, it is almost inevitable that you’ll spend money on something you don’t need. Make sure you know what you’re looking for when you stumble into the store and know what your price cap is per item: “I know Jenny wants a new Easy-bake Oven but $35.00 is as high as I’ll go.”
2)Leave the credit card at home
This goes well with the point above. When you know what your budget for the day (or for the whole season) is going to be, just bring that to the mall- in cash or use your debit card. That way, when you’re tempted to go over budget you won’t be able to. Relying on plastic to solve problems is where people can get into trouble.
3) Plan really really far ahead
The best time to think about the next Christmas is when you make your January budget. Having a savings account (or a jar, really) for gifts is an excellent plan. Every month save 20 or 30 dollars, or whatever you want, into your “gifts account. When birthdays or graduations pop up throughout the year, use money out of the gifts account. All the money that rolls over until December becomes your Christmas gifts budget.
4) It’s okay to cheap-out on cards
They’re just cards, dude. Greeting cards are crazy-expensive nowadays. $7.99 for a card? Are you for real, Shoppers? It’s far more important what you write in the card, than how much that card cost. Buy a box at a dollar store, or make your own. Be careful here too: some fancy scrapbook/stamping supplies can drastically increase your card-making costs.
5) There are better ways to buy books
Bookstores a dangerous. You walk into one of them and it’s hard to make it out with your net worth intact. Buy used books and/or buy them online. There are plenty of used books on Amazon for under 10 dollars. You need to make sure you think ahead here, too. Order bundles together and order them in November or early December. Having multiple packages and putting a rush on the shipping will drive up the price.
That’s five, but there are so many more ways to save money at Christmas! Click on the MIxcloud link below to listen to the whole episode and find out how to use nostalgia and meaning in gifts to save money, methods for getting cheaper clothing and hear tips for saving money wrapping gifts, hosting parties and travelling to other cities.