Top 5 Things You Can Do to Save Money during the Holiday Season

With Christmas just around the corner, consumer spending is likely to skyrocket. If you are still on the hunt for a few last minute holiday gifts, do not risk blowing your budget out of the water. Take a few precautions to keep your holiday spending under control and start the New Year free from the pain of an after-Christmas spending binge.

Create a budget and use cash:
One of the oldest, simplest, and most effective ways to save money is to pay with cash. Once the cash is gone, stop buying gifts. If you prefer to carry a card, consider a prepaid credit card, which only allows you to spend as much money as you have loaded onto it.

Not only will planning a holiday budget save you money, it will make holiday shopping and planning easier. You know what you need and can skip impulse buys.

Stop splurging on the little things:
If you are working on a budget, you should not be spending a ton of money on fancy wrapping paper and bows and nametags. Consider reusing paper shopping bags as wrapping paper (you can decorate the outside to spruce it up. Skip bows entirely (they look pretty, but are not necessary) and you can make your own nametags using scrap wrapping paper. You can even lower or eliminate your holiday card budget by sending an e-card instead of mailing a regular card.

Before you buy anything, ask yourself if it is necessary or if you can make or replace the item yourself cheaper.

Beg and Borrow
One of the best parts of celebrating the holidays is attending parties and other events. If you need a new dress, shoes or jewelry, consider renting items or borrowing them from friends or family members. You can save hundreds of dollars by swapping clothes and jewelry with your friends instead of purchasing an expensive dress.

Simplify meal plans:
Eating out will drain your budget. Consider hosting a potluck at your home instead of splurging on expensive meals out. Ask guests to bring side dishes or dessert to cut back on your costs. Enjoying a relaxing evening at home with friends and family instead of battling long waits and huge crowds is probably a better use of your holiday time anyway.

Shop Smart:
You can save a ton of money by taking the time to look for deals. IF you purchase gifts online, check out a few different sites to compare prices and look for free shipping, If you find free shipping, consider buying more of your gifts from that site to save on fees from elsewhere.

In addition to shopping smart, consider giving a little smarter. Instead of splurging on expensive electronics and other gifts, consider making a homemade gift or offering a service instead. For example: Offer your best friend free babysitting for a month or offer to clean out your dad’s garage, mow the neighbor’s lawn or bake cookies for the mailman. Knowing what type of spender you are can assist in shopping smarter.

Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed out and buried up to your eyebrows in debt. Take time to plan. Spend smart and scale back so you can enjoy a budget-friendly holiday season.