These ten simple tips may help you save money and nerves throughout your Christmas shopping
The holiday season may be a time of joy, but preparations take a lot of time and money. Presents, festive dishes, smart clothes, decorations, and party organization often require a whole extra salary. Many of us get so stressed out before Christmas and New Year, that we miss the spirit of celebration. These ten simple tips may help you save money and nerves throughout your Christmas shopping.
1. Clear out your mess
We often make New Year’s resolutions to get rid of clutter. Starting early will not only prepare your house for the holidays. It can also bring some extra cash to your festive budget. The beginning of December is a good time to clear any unwanted items out of your home. Books, clothing, furniture, household items, jewelry, gadgets, toys, hobby kits, or sports equipment that you no longer need can find new owners. Sell them online, on garage sales, or local commission shops. Do not forget about the buy-swap-sell facilities as well.
If you don’t sell your items, spread the Christmas cheer and donate them to those in need. There are various charity options, so your mess can make someone else’s holidays special.
2. Stick to the list
Making lists beforehand helps both to balance your finances and track your preparation progress. Allot a certain sum to every item of festive expense, check and revise it, and, most importantly, try not to exceed your planned expenditure. The things you need to buy before Christmas and New Year include:
- Presents – list everyone you need to buy gifts for. Determine the sum appropriate for every present. Choose a gift within this spending range.
- Food and party supplies – prepare the holiday menu in advance. Count the number of guests, and the amount of food required. Estimate the necessary quantity of produce and party supplies. Track the promotions in local stores and supermarkets. Many products have a long shelf life and can be bought in advance. You can also enjoy wholesale prices if you are preparing for a big dinner.
- Party and travel plans – last-minute bookings usually trigger high fees. Prices also go soaring high during the holiday season. List all your travel or party costs such as tickets, petrol, accommodation rent, travel insurance, visa fees, reserving the restaurant table or banquet room etc. Look for deals, coupons or other promotions. Make travel or party arrangements in advance. If you drive to another city for holidays, think of fueling the tank before the peak season. You can also find travel companions to share your expenses.
3. Use apps
Sticking to your budget is easier with the help of mobile apps. Choose one of the free expense tracking applications such as TrackMySpend, Spendee, Money Lover etc., specify your spending limit and track your progress on the go.
There are also special apps that can find the best deals and discounts in your local stores. Some examples are ShopSavvy, RetailMeNot, Flipp, or SnipSnap.
4. Save on wrappings
Festive wrappings can be pricey. Check some online DYI video tips and personalize your presents. You can use plain colored paper, brown paper, ribbons and string, Christmas cards, and even old newspapers or posters. If you can sew, buy some fabric and make Christmas bags. Be original and save yourself a little extra cash.
5. Shop online
Online shopping eliminates the urge to buy something because of crowd pressure or a shopping assistant’s persuasiveness. You can take your time to compare prices at different retailer websites. Don’t be shy to be an online Scrooge, save every cent you can.
Before you start online shopping, search for discount codes, promotions, and coupons. Use special apps to find the best deals. Don’t forget to check the sale and special offer sections at online stores. Check online auctions and “bid” for the items you need. Make sure you take shipping costs into consideration.
6. Get social
Social networks are not just for chatting and “liking” someone’s pictures. Follow your favorite brands and shops on social media. You may get exclusive discounts for sharing or win some contests. You will also be aware of their sales and special offers.
7. Tame your shopaholism
The atmosphere in the shops this time of year often makes us splurge on presents and buy sweet unnecessary trifles. Control your shopping urge with the following tricks:
- Set limits – when you go Christmas shopping, set a timer. Make quick visits to the shops so that you get less temptation. Take only a fixed sum of money with you and leave your credit cards at home. Even if you are tempted to buy more than you planned, your limited budget will stop you. Visit only those stores you need to. Don’t get distracted by beautiful shop windows.
- Shop without pressure – choose odd hours for shopping. It is easier to choose carefully when it’s less crowded. You don’t get distracted by what others are eagerly buying as well.
- Pre-pay – book and pay for the items online and collect them in store. Save delivery costs and avoid standing in line.
- Buy the least expensive first – if you start with the most expensive items, your mind will play tricks on you. All the less expensive goods will seem cheap to you compared to your pricey purchase. Don’t lose price perspective, start with the cheaper products.
8. Consider alternatives
Christmas gifts and party supplies shouldn’t necessarily be expensive. There are ways to show your care without running into debt:
- Negotiate your spending limits – before you start buying presents for your family and friends, agree on a maximum gift price.
- DIY – not only can you make a present with your own hands, but also give a DIY voucher. People appreciate deeds rather than things, so you can present redeemable vouchers for homemade dinners, household chores, babysitting, massages, picnics, romantic evenings, and any other help your loved ones will appreciate.
- Second-hand offers – antique stores or second-hand bookshops can stock great presents for the art lover, some things sold in second-hand shops have not actually been used at all; they may even have their tags attached. If you take time to look through their stocks you may find little treasures for your house decorations, wrappings or even presents.
- Bargain – do not be shy to ask for small discounts at markets and private stores, Christmas spirit may make the sellers kinder.
- Share the catering – if you invite guests to dinner, ask others to bring drinks, desserts, fruits, or light snacks.
9. Take advantage of competition
Do not buy everything in one shop at once unless you’re bulk buying at wholesale prices. When you have a list of groceries, compare the prices in different supermarkets. Stock up the products gradually, taking advantage of the best deals.
10. Plan ahead
Next year’s Christmas may seem far away, but if you start preparing early, you will go through it with ease.
- Prepare Christmas budget now – save a little sum every month. If you open a high-interest savings account for a year, the expense will not hit your wallet as hard.
- Shop during the sales – presents can be bought throughout the year and safely stored till Christmas. Buy gifts on sale and during the low season to break down your spending and save some money.
- Lay-by – some larger gifts or vacations can be paid for in regular installments. Pre-plan the big purchases, lay them by if possible and pay off over time.
- Use loyalty credits – many supermarkets offer loyalty programs and cards where you store financial bonuses. Do not use them regularly, if possible. Save bonuses during the year to lighten the cost of your holiday grocery shopping.