While some might argue that fall is the best time of year, there’s no denying that the winter holidays have their own special magic. The snowy weather outside, cozy nights by the fire, and time spent with loved ones just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. We love the holidays because they bring us together, make us remember what we’re grateful for, and we get to make memories that last a lifetime. If you’re not careful though, you might wind up breaking your bank account in the process of making those memories!
There are a lot of expenses surrounding the holidays. You’re spending money on travel, gifts, parties, outfits, decorations, dining out, etc. It can get very overwhelming very fast, which is why you need to start preparing now. That way, you can focus your time and energy on the people you love instead of worrying about how you’re going to afford everything. Here are some quick tips to help you plan ahead:
1. Book Your Travel in Advance
If you haven’t booked your flights yet, this is your sign to book them ASAP! The longer you wait, the higher prices are going to rise. Or worse, flights will sell out completely. The same is true if you’re booking trains, hotel rooms, and rental cars. Everyone knows that travel is pure chaos during the holidays and the only way to ease some of that pain is to make your arrangements in advance and have a solid game plan before heading to the airport.
2. Set a Budget (and Stick to It!)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever set a budget for yourself, then blown right past that budget once it came time to shop.
Budgeting takes self-control, both when you’re making it and when you’re actually out shopping. Even small gifts (and wrapping) can quickly add up to a very large price tag, so remember to factor in little knick-knacks and gifts for coworkers. Try to be realistic when you make your budget, too. If you know that only spending $25 on a gift for your best friend is wishful thinking, then factor that into your budget. And when you’re out shopping, make it a point to stick to that budget no matter what. Safely budgeting now means that once that credit card bill comes due in January, it won’t make you panic!
3. Start Shopping Yesterday
There’s no rule that says you can only begin your holiday shopping on Black Friday, so make your own rules! Start shopping in July if you want, or whenever you see something that you think your loved one will enjoy. If you begin your holiday shopping far in advance, you’ll skip out on last-minute panic shopping, which almost always results in you spending way more than you intended on gifts.
4. DIY Gifts!
Gifts are expensive (especially in this economy), but they don’t all need to be! If you have any kind of creative skills (like knitting, sewing, painting, woodworking, etc.), the holidays can be your time to shine (and save money)! Even if you’re not super creative, you can still DIY some gifts if you’re willing to put some time and elbow grease into the process. You can learn pretty much anything on YouTube these days. If you think about it, a DIY gift is actually priceless because it means you’re giving someone the gift of your time and care.
5. Remember Miscellaneous Expenses
While travel and gifts are likely to be the biggest holiday expenses, they are far from the only ones. And those other, smaller expenses can add up quickly! When you’re budgeting for the holidays, remember to factor in those other expenses, such as dining out with friends, holiday parties, decorations, outfits, and that Secret Santa present you totally remembered to get for your coworker!
6. Dine In, Not Out
We all love a good meal at a nice restaurant, especially around the holidays! This is the time of year when your calendar is probably booked with dinners, parties, and other kinds of celebrations. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attend them, but try to cut down on dining out when you can. Maybe that means making your own dinners instead of ordering in, packing a work lunch instead of going out to eat with coworkers, or even brewing your own pot of coffee instead of stopping at Starbucks for whatever gingerbread-pumpkin-peppermint concoction they have on their holiday menu.
7. Start a Holiday Savings Account
Just as you should have an emergency savings account for unexpected life expenses, it’s also a good idea to set up a savings account just for the holidays. By contributing as little as $25-$50 bucks a month throughout the entire year, you can easily have hundreds of dollars saved by the time the holidays come around. Just like budgeting in advance will help you have a less stressful holiday season, saving in advance will give you peace of mind.
8. Shop Around for the Best Deal
If you’re on the hunt for a particular item or stumble across something while you’re out shopping, try to hold off on buying it right then. You can likely find a better deal if you shop around first. Amazon often has better prices, but check sites like eBay too. The only caveat here is if you’re shopping for something truly unique or are trying to support local businesses, in which case, it’s understandable to pay a little more. Don’t forget that Small Business Saturday is a great way to shop local and save some money!
9. Prioritize Experiences First
While it’s great to buy gifts for your loved ones, that’s not the only way to show that you care about a person. In fact, some people actually prefer quality time over gift-giving as their form of love language. Instead of buying an expensive gift for your boyfriend or husband, try spending quality time together instead. You don’t need to spend money on an expensive night out either. A quiet night at home together sipping hot cocoa, decorating the tree, and watching Christmas movies is a dreamy way to spend an evening that won’t break the bank!
The holidays are a wonderful, but busy time of year. Just as you’re taking the time now to prepare and set aside some extra spending money, make sure you remember to also set aside time to spend with your loved ones and enjoy the holiday season together.
Don’t miss anything! Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get curated content weekly!