Saving Money for the Holiday Season
The holiday season is quickly approaching and as it gets closer you might feel like your income is getting smaller. Between travel, gifts, food and parties, you may shell out a great deal more money in the next 2-3 months than you normally would, leaving you with either a smaller savings account or a larger credit card balance.
To avoid breaking your budget during the holidays and starting the New Year with a debt hangover, start planning for your costs now.
1. Start looking at travel deals
Flying home to spend the holidays with family or friends can be expensive, especially if you are making multiple trips. As the holiday gets closer, ticket prices rise, so it makes sense to start booking your tickets now. In addition to utilizing discount websites, such as Expedia and Travelocity, compare prices on an airline’s website. These are sometimes more affordable and offer more options than discount sites. It’s also a smart idea to check websites each day, even after you book, as some offer one-day only travel deals. Finally, a plane ride might be the most convenient, but not necessarily the most affordable. In some cases, buying a bus ticket or taking the train is a more cost-effective option and you can avoid annoying baggage fees.
2. Stick to a list
Overspending on friends and family is easy when you’re just “flying by the seat of your pants.” Instead, make a list of gifts you plan to buy and stick to it. Having an idea of what you plan to purchase gives you more time to compare prices at competing retailers and online.
3. Buy one at a time
When you rush to purchase all your gifts in one day – barring a great sale – it can hit your budget hard and may leave you with depleted funds for the remaining months. We all know what this leads to: credit card debt. Instead, start picking up gifts a week or two at a time. This allows you to spread out your spending, which helps you experience less of a hit to your monthly income. It also lowers the stress of trying to get all your gift buying done at once.
4. Stay glued to your phone
If mobile applications are good for anything, it’s finding great discounts and sales. There are several mobile apps you can download that alert you to special deals, which may help you save money on your overall holiday purchases over time. You can also seek out scannable coupons via the retailer’s direct website if you’re looking for a specific item.