It’s the middle of December and you probably have either finished your Christmas shopping or are still in the midst of it. Either way, you will most likely end up spending quite a few dollars this Christmas. While it may be too late to save a bundle this year, you can aim to make next year your cheapest ever. Here are some things you can do to save money for next Christmas, starting now.
Save Your Money
Make a budget. Without a set budget, you are bound to spend way too much. Think about how much you spent this year, and how much you would like to spend next year. Make a list of people you bought gifts for this year. Take off any you will not be buying for next year, or add any you may have forgotten about this year.
Spread the budget out over the year. Rather than feeling the pinch at the end of the year, spread the amount out over the course of the whole year. Take your budget and divide that number by 12. This is the amount you are going to save each month. Make sure that is a realistic amount, and will not sabotage your monthly expenses. If there is a chance it will, go back to the Christmas budget drawing board and re-crunch your numbers.
Open a Christmas account. One of the easiest ways to make sure that you actually contribute to your Christmas fund each month it to set up a separate bank account and have your Christmas money transferred automatically from your regular bank account. Your shopping money will be set aside and you never have to remember to do it.
Cheat your checking. Want another way to save some extra cash without feeling it? When balancing your checkbook, round your amounts down. Say your ending balance comes out to $128. Round that down to $120, or heck, even $100. You can take that extra $8 (or $28) and stash it in your Christmas fund.
Give up one thing. Do you buy yourself a special cookie each day? Or how about that morning coffee at the coffee shop that costs about as much as a meal? By giving up just one luxury a day, you will save yourself about $5 daily. If you do this 5 days out of the week, that’s $25 a week, or $100 per month! By the end of the year you could have saved $1,200 just by giving up the premium coffee. Instead, brew your own at home and take it to work with you.
Frugal Gift Giving
Start a secret Santa. If you have a family, group of friends or workplace that likes to exchange gifts, suggest you do a secret Santa instead of buying gifts for each person. Everyone gets a gift plus the added bonus of a fun mystery, and you will have saved yourself a bundle by buying only one gift.
Suggest a gift cap. No Secret Santa? Suggest that your family and friends put a limit on the amount each person can spend. This levels the spending field so no one spends too much and gets little in return, and also makes it easy to stick to a budget if everyone else is doing the same.
Do a group gift. If you have a boss that you want to buy a gift for, ask around if any of your co-workers want to go in with you. If you get a big enough group together, even a costly gift won’t break your bank after dividing the total among everyone.
Make it a homemade holiday. Are you crafty? Can you cook? Nothing says love like a homemade gift. It takes time and love to actually make something for someone, but it also saves you money. If you sew, you can make personalized towels, tote bags and matching pajama pants for the whole family. If you crochet or knit, you can gift everyone with a nice scarf or sweater. If you would rather cook or bake, homemade goodies are always a good bet.
Get Your Discount On
Buy discounted gift cards. Gift cards to many popular stores, both online and offline, can be purchased at discounted prices. You can check online sites such as CreditCardsCo.com and MarketProSecure.com for gift cards that are marked down up to 30%. You may also find discounted gift cards in retail stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Sam’s Club. Purchase these as gifts, or buy them for yourself to use when you purchase gifts for savings on your gifts.
Utilize social media. Start following your favorite stores. Throughout the year, you will find that they notify followers of sales, and even offer money saving discount codes and coupons.
Search for discount codes. When shopping online, always check for a discount code before hitting that checkout button. You may find there’s a code for 5-10% off or even free shipping. Check RetailMenot.com and SecretPrices.com for the latest coupon codes.
Sign up for cash back. This tip may not save you money while you shop, but it can help put money back into your pocket when you are done. Sign up for programs like eBates.com what give you a percentage back of every dollar you spend.
Christmas is the time of year where most people spend the most money. By budgeting, spreading out the entire amount and shopping smart, you can make next year your cheapest year ever.