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6 ways to trim your holiday spending and expenses

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You know that feeling when you get swept up in the spirit of the holidays and New Year’s? Trying to buy presents for everyone on your list while being frugal can be a tough job. With grocery prices these days even the price of hosting meals and family can add up too. In this article we have compiled our top 6 tips that you can use to stay on track with your holiday spending this year.

The downside to the holidays is our tendency to overspend (and overeat but we’ve earned that pie). Moreover, once January 1st comes around it’ll be hard not to spend every last penny we earn right away to pay off the holiday overspending we put our cards through. We can wear stretchy pants to handle the food we’ll be scarfing, but there’s nothing to counteract our overspending, other than paying down off our credit card bills.

Cutting back on your holiday spending now will likely set up a more positive financial journey in the new year, and your holidays can still be just as happy. You don’t have to cut everything out, but you can cut things down, starting with the amount of money you spend and your credit card bill.

1. Plan ahead with a dedicated holiday budget

First and foremost, if you want to cut down on spending this holiday season, you’ll liken your chances of staying below your spending threshold with a budget.

Creating a budget before you delve into your holiday shopping will help you avoid overspending, as you’ll have a clear and definitive amount on what you’d like to spend on specific people. It’ll also contribute to sticking to your overall budget. To help you along the way, try a budgeting app.

A simple way to create a budget is by setting a fixed amount for every person you intend to spend, with a little extra aside for additional expenses or supplies.

Being realistic when budgeting helps tremendously. It’s important to remember this is easily one of the most expensive times of the year, considering that beyond gift purchases, there are food, drinks, and other expenses to account for. The more detail and accounting in your budget, the more legroom you will have, which you’ll need if you’re travelling by plane to visit loved ones. Why are we always stuck behind a seat-kicker? Manners much?

2. Get creative and crafty with handmade gifts

Some cost-effective gift ideas include:

  • Artwork
  • Baked goods
  • Used or repurposed gifts
  • Preservatives
  • Handmade knitwear

You’ve probably heard this before, but using the holidays as a time to explore your creativity and craftiness is fun and bound to save you money. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right? You don’t have to be Basquiat, Banksy, or even Bianca Del Rio to make art. With supplies from the dollar store and a mason jar full of the jam you spent hours making, you can convince your family and friends that you’re the next Martha Stewart.

The list above includes some of the many low-cost gift ideas that you can utilize this year.

If making things isn’t your forte, seek independent businesses, artists, or other creative types to help you meet your gift-giving needs. You won’t go wrong if you go local. There are many artisans across the country that sell their goods at reasonable prices.

3. Consider a more modest affair

Who isn’t occasionally surprised after a trip to the grocery store is during the holiday season?

When you consider food, drinks, décor, gifts, and more, a trip to the grocery store almost always comes with a heftier than usual bill.

Consider scaling down your huge dinners, celebratory drinks, and fancy decorations to cut down on your holiday spending.

A more modest affair doesn’t have to be any less special. It could make it even more special to focus less on the material aspects of your celebrations.

Making things yourself doesn’t hurt either. While taking things into your own hands is time-consuming, it goes without saying that making things from scratch is inexpensive (and, arguable, better tasting). If you’re not a cook, prepackaged goodies are generally cheaper. Is anyone really going to be upset if you get Pillsbury cookies instead of the fancy ones from the expensive bakery?

4. Take advantage of coupons, deals, and spending products

Whether you’re shopping online or in-store this year, it never hurts to seek out deals that are available before purchasing anything beforehand.

Whether it’s sales, specialized discounts, coupons, or rewards points, there’s always something out there that can help you save some cash on your gifting spree.

Revising your current expenses to see if there is any wiggle room for saving is a must when holiday shopping.

That said, banking products can help you accomplish this as well. Preloadable rewards credit cards such as KOHO and the PC Money Account are free to use and offer their cardholders a rewards program that can earn some serious cash back, without the fees or month-end bill. Enough with the bills, right? We have too many as it is.

5. Embrace a new tradition

There are plenty of gift-giving traditions that can cost less than your usual holiday budget if you commit to starting a new one.

Non-traditional gift-giving practices like Secret Santa or White Elephant are great alternatives that require less spending and minimize the gift-giving process.

Plus, you can set a spending limit per gift too to level the playing field so you don’t have a Michael Scott iPod situation. Remember iPods?

6. Talk about the holidays with your loved ones

Possibly the most important thing you can do when it comes to trimming holiday expenses is to have a frank and honest conversation with your loved ones about their expectations for the holidays.

Everyone involved should do their best to be on the same page budget-wise to ease the stress that comes with the holiday season.

It might seem nerve-wracking to bring up a spending limit or ideas for new traditions, but it’s honestly more than worth it to chat with your gift receivers about holiday expectations.

With these tips, you will have a happy and affordable holiday season, so long as you stick to a budget and focus on the things that truly matter like building a gingerbread house that has a pool and guest quarters.

Stay on budget and you’ll have a great holiday that doesn’t put you in debt.

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