THE COST OF CHRISTMAS AND THE HOLIDAYS
It happens every year. You know it’s coming, but still, you are caught off guard when it comes to financing the holidays. According to the National Retail Federation, people spend an average of $967.13 on Christmas and holiday gifts each year. If you are hosting the meal or any parties the price tag can go up another $200 - $1,000. Here are three steps you can take to stay within your means this year:
#1. CREATE A BUDGET
This annual expenditure is large enough that you should actually have a budget item and strategy in place. If you don’t have one, don’t feel guilty, this is more common than not. Commit to make this the year you get a plan in place for holiday budgeting.
Tips on creating a Christmas shopping budget and sticking to it:
- Include everything. Gifts (of course) but also meals, alcohol, stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, the new linens you're going to buy to impress your house guests, the carpet cleaners - you get the picture.
- Update your budget regularly. You might shop from your desk on a work break or run by a store on your way home. If you commit to updating your budget with all purchases regularly (weekly, if not daily), it’ll help minimize any unnecessary purchases that you may forget about between now and the holidays. Which leads me to impulse buying….
- Do NOT impulse buy. Impulse buying can be the ultimate budget buster.
#2. IMPLEMENT CREATIVE WAYS TO SAVE MONEY FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Here’s a list of tips to help you save. You don’t have to do them all, just pick a few from the list that work for you. The earlier you start in the year, the better, but even a couple of months of savings strategies will help.
- Look at your cable/satellite TV service. Can you go to a lower package, even for the short term and cut $20+/month from your bill? Estimated savings: $40
- Can you do without Hulu/Netflix or other streaming services for a couple months? Estimated savings: $30
Getting Flexible with Groceries & Food
- Trim from your grocery bill. Skip a trip per month to the grocery store and vow to be creative by using up the food in your house. Think of how much food you throw out. Estimated savings: $200
- Give up your daily lattes from your favorite coffee shop and when you’re dining out, order water instead of a beverage. Estimated savings: $250
- The average American spends $232+ a month on fast food. Completely cut out fast food from now until Christmas. Pack your lunch! You’ll save money and calories. Estimated savings: $400
- Sell some items on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc.
- Start a coin jar. Toss in the coins from your pocket or wallet at the end of the day. You’d be surprised how fast it adds up!
- Utilize your talents and create homemade goods and sell to others as gifts.
#3. WORK SMARTER/NOT HARDER ON THE HOLIDAYS
Being Smart, Frugal & Creative Can Save You Money
- Buy one present a week starting now! Make it an outing for yourself and this will lessen the impact of Christmas.
- Kids can’t tell what a cheap toy is or what an expensive toy is. Don’t go overboard on kids gifts just to impress the parents.
- Get creative with photo gifts. Photos are cheap and if you add your own messages it can make for a tear-jerker of a gift at a low cost.
- Make a rule with your family that you have to get all presents at the thrift store.
- Wrap up items in your house you don’t use for hostess gifts. This works for other gifts as well, look around your house for nice items you don’t use and wrap them up. (It’s more common than you think!)
- Offer services instead of buying gifts-I’ll clean your house, make a meal, do your laundry, scrub your floor, repair (fill in the blank…)
- Potluck the holiday meal. This just takes some pre-planning and good communication. Set up a private Facebook event and invite the guest list to your event. This a great way to house the time, date, and even the list of what to bring.
- Pick up extra shifts, or a side job, such as babysitting, pet sitting, or even house cleaning for someone else’s party. You could earn an extra $400-$1000 by the holidays.
- Set up an auto withdrawal from your checking account to your savings from now until Christmas. If you start in November and transfer $50/week you’ll have $350 by Christmas.
We at Home Federal hope you can use a few of these suggestions. We have budget strategies on our mind all day and are happy to help you with yours. Feel free to reach out to one of our bankers and learn how you can save, finance, or plan for the important moments in your life. Remember, no question is too small!