6 Money Saving Tips To Plan For The Holidays Now
It seems like every year, the holidays sneak up on us quicker and quicker. Labor Day grilling turns to Thanksgiving turkey carving with the snap of a finger, and before we know it, it’s time to buy gifts for family and friends. Gift giving is part of what makes the holiday season special for many, but there’s no denying it has become an expensive and often financially burdensome time of year. The average U.S. adult spent $862 on holiday shopping in 2017. That steep spending can hurt wallets well into the winter (and beyond).
To make this year’s holiday shopping truly holly and jolly (without any buyer’s guilt and remorse) check out six of Tobin & Collins favorite money saving tips you can use to plan for your holiday spending.
Tip #1: Set a Budget and Work Backwards
How much are you truly able to spend this holiday season? We’re not talking about your credit card limit, or what you can pull from your savings account. Rather, think about the quantity of cash on hand, or the amount you’d be able to save up, that would allow you to complete your holiday spending without compromising your living expenses and existing financial goals. From there, work backwards to determine what that number allows you to spend on each person for whom you’re buying. This will push you to make more strategic, sensible choices about what you buy. Rather than starting with a list of items and adding up the cost after, the items you select should be determined by your fixed budget. Remember, people love gifts for their meaning and sentiment, not how much you spent on them!
Tip #2: Set Up a Separate Savings Account
Sometimes we need little tricks to help our mind understand that certain funds are off limits. Setting up a separate savings account dedicated to holiday spending can help you do just that. By contributing money to a designated account, you can more clearly visualize how much you have to spend this season. This decreases any ambiguity or false sense of security about your saving efforts, and decreases the chance you’ll spend that money on other purchases. Who among us hasn’t made a promise, like skipping a lunch out to save the $20 we have in our wallet, only to spend that same $20 on another incidental cost the next day. If it’s not in your holiday savings account, you don’t have it to spend for shopping. Consider leveraging automatic withdrawals from your checking account each time you receive a paycheck to make saving a no-brainer.
Tip #3: Only Pay with Cash
Oh, how easy it is to lose track of spending when payment involves just the swipe of a card. To keep your budgeting on track as you approach the holiday season, consider the advantages of paying with cash. Using cash gives us a tangible, visual representation of how much money we’re spending. It also can work as a spending shut-off valve. For example, let’s say your budget allows for $200 of incidental spending per weekend. By taking out $200 from the ATM on a Friday evening, you’ll be constantly reminded of how much you spend throughout the weekend each time you go to pay and see how many bills are left. If come Sunday you’re greeted with an empty wallet, you know you’ve hit budget and have nothing left to spend.
Tip #4: Don’t Overlook the Simple Genius of Spare Change
Money is money – even when it in comes in the smallest of sizes! Keep your spare change throughout the day and add it to a designated change jar before you head to bed. You’ll be surprised how quickly the value of that jar adds up over time. Why not be intentional about saving that change, if the alternative is to let it slip through some figurative and literal cracks?
Tip #5: Commit to Giving Up Something
What’s one part of your spending routine you don’t necessarily need? Coffee is a classic example, but think too about things like that pack of gum in the grocery checkout lane, sporadic Amazon orders, or the second glass of wine at dinner (when you have your own bottle at home). Commit to cutting out one nonessential part of your current budget for the next few months and instead funnel what you’d spend on that item into your holiday savings account!
Tip #6: Plan Holiday Trips Ahead of Time
For many of us, the holidays are also a time for traveling to visit family and friends, or using time off from work to take vacations. Holiday travel can be particularly pricey, so book flights and other accommodations sooner, rather than later, if you already know which dates you’ll be traveling, as prices increase the closer you get to the holidays. Sign up for airline email newsletters or get Google flight alerts when flight prices drop so you can try to catch the best deals!
What other holiday money savings tips and tricks have you picked up over the years? For more on saving money, be sure to explore the rest of our blog! Tobin & Collins is committed to keeping our clients financial sound. For more in-depth financial planning, reach out to our team of experts at 201-487-7744 or visit us online.