It’s that time of year again. Time to start mapping out your spending for the two months where people usually overspend on dinners and shopping.
The holidays are a special time of year for sharing good cheer, great food and generous gifts with the ones we love. Before you head to the mall or plan that extravagant holiday party, consider how you could save some money this holiday season.
Here are 5 ways to keep your spending in check from now through December:
1. Create a holiday budget or spending plan
When it comes to the word “budget” many people often think of complicated spreadsheets and restrictions but no, no, no - a budget will help you plan your spending and ensure there no surprises at the end of the year. No matter how big or small your holiday spending budget, ensure it is realistic. Shop around to find the best prices for the things you want to buy.
2. Make a list
Shopping for the ones you love can lead to overspending. All of the sales will exciting and tempting. Trust me I know. To help avoid going over budget make a shopping list. On your list include the individuals you plan to shop for and a budget for each person. This will also help you narrow down the gifts options. You can actually get very granular and add the actual gift to the list so there isn’t room for overspending.
3. Start early
Many holiday deals begins after Veterans’ Day. This year in the US Veteran’s day will be observed on November 11th. Don’t miss out on savings by waiting until the last minute to do your shopping. Starting early will help you stick to your shopping list and allow you to shop around for the best deal and not pick up what is left since you started late.
4. Unused gift cards
Check in your wallet to see if you have either unused gift cards or some with small balances. You would be surprised how this can help you fund a gift(s). Example: small balances on several Starbucks gift cards may be enough to get a gift from Starbucks for a boss or coworker.
5. Unconventional gifts
Instead of going to the malls, maybe print a photo of you and your best friend, get a frame and a blank card (you can get both of these at Dollar Tree) and handwrite a heartfelt message.
Maybe a wall or desk calendar with pictures of the family for each month for a family member you don’t see often, along with a blank card with a heartfelt message.
Making your money stretch during the holidays comes down to preparation. If you set your budget, make a plan and start early you can avoid excessive spending and bring in the New Year stress free when it comes to your money.
For more helpful tips on making your money better for you, and a free set of budget envelopes, Sign up for the It’$ My Money™ Newsletter.
Saving money for what you want is easier said than done. However, if you want to make travel a financial priority in your life, there are certain things that you need to consider to make your dream trips possible. After traveling to 26 countries while paying off student loans, saving for a house and now pursuing financial independence, here are four ways to save for vacations.
Start a travel fund
Make travel a financial priority by including travel as a line item in your budget. I would recommend taking it one step further by separating out your travel savings into a separate bank account called a “travel fund”. A travel fund can be a savings account, checking account or a money market. Having your travel savings in a separate bank account (away from your day-to-day expenses) ensures that you don’t commingle funds or overspend.
Automate your savings
After you’ve created a travel fund, automate your savings. Automation makes saving easier because it takes care of all the heavy lifting for you so you never have to worry about moving money into your bank account. Automate your savings by 1) setting up a direct deposit with your employer or 2) automating bank transfers into your travel fund.
Use Micro-Saving Apps
To boost your savings use apps like Digit. Digit helps you save effortlessly by analyzing your spending and saving your spare change. Other popular micro-investing apps include Acorns and Stash.
Finding Flight Deals
Lastly by saving for travel consistently you develop positive money habits, and you’ll also have money available to book flight deals. Here’s a short list of my favorite websites for finding flight deals: Through their daily newsletter, Thrifty Traveler notifies you of error fares, cheap flights and Delta SkyMiles Flash Sales. While there is a free version, I highly recommend signing up for premium so you get tailored flight deals from your home airports. The Flight Deal allows you to search for flights, hotels and car rentals, all in one place. This website is free to use and most flight deals depart from major U.S. cities like New York, Boston, Dallas, and Seattle. Flights will take you anywhere around the world from Asia to Hawaii.
While these are my top tips for saving for vacations I would love to hear what other things you recommend in the comments below!
Danielle Desir is an author, speaker, podcaster and the founder of The Thought Card, an award-winning affordable travel finance blog and podcast empowering people to make informed financial decisions - travel more, pay off debt and build wealth. She has traveled to 26 countries and 3 continents and strongly believes in not letting your financial responsibilities hold you back from pursuing your dreams.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.