It’s that time of year. Time to start mapping out your spending for the holiday 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. This year we have to celebrate in a different and safe way but spending will still take place. Before you map out your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping or the small holiday gathering even via Zoom, consider these 5 tips to save money this holiday season.
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. Comparison 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 planned gift to the list so there isn’t room for overspending. You can also use budget envelopes for your shopping, one for food, one for gifts, etc…
3. Start early
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 your wallet to see if you have unused gift cards or ones with small balances. You would be surprised how this can help you fund your holiday shopping. 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
Try printing a photo of you and your best friend, child, parent, spouse then get a frame and a blank card (you can get both of these at Dollar Tree) and handwrite a heartfelt message. Another idea is 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. Set your budget or make a plan and start early and you can avoid excessive spending and bring in the New Year financially stress free.
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As a person who traveled extensively for my employer and my business you can imagine how it was for me when all of that came to a sudden pause. No travels - none at all, not even locally, due to the pandemic. My last out of state trip was to LA at the beginning of the year. Now the annual event of the year is here. Am I going? Can my husband make it as he is still recovering for being sick? Our original plans were to make it a road trip.
Then when it was clear he was unable to go so I had to make a last minute decision on how I would get there. Go with others, was an option. Grab a flight and ride back with others. Search from a direct flight from JFK or just leave from BDL and take a round trip flight.
The Flight: The best option was the round trip there and back from BDL. Now it is a week before the trip (not ideal for a great flight price) but it is what it is. Then I remembered, I had airline points. I tried to use the points to no avail. I didn’t have enough to cover the round trip then tried to purchase the balance of the points and it would have cost more than to getting the full round ticket through Expedia so I did that. $384.20 round trip from CT to Newport News, VA and back.
Next was booking the hotel. I also had hotel points. This time enough to to cover both nights at the Marriott. $0.00
Now how will I get around while there. A rental car? Uber? I weighed the options, rental car would mean the hustle and bustle of getting it, paying for parking at the hotel, finding parking at each stop, putting gas in it before return or using Uber. Uber would pick me up at the door each time and while I rode I could check out what’s going on my phone. Uber won. Total in Uber for the 3 days - $83.91.
The night before leaving, I had a little anxiety. I tossed and turned all night. Not sure if the anxiety was from an early flight and not wanting to over sleep and miss it or this was the first time I would be going through an airport onto a plane, etc. with Covid still running wild. The alarm went off. It was time. I was Masked and gloves up and off I go.
I packed accordingly so baggage fees - $0.00
Each leg of my flight there I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me. Great for social distancing and for stretch out. In between the two flights I charged up my computer and cleaned out some emails and enjoyed my breakfast. I also caught some of FinConX which is a financial conference and black enterprise entrepreneurship summit. I have to keep my finance game tight, learning from others, so I can be better for my clients and my squad.
Now the food story. Ok, conducting business and dropping knowledge over food always go over well. Also you will see I didn’t really eat day one. I know that was not good but I survived.
I get to my hotel on day one and all I had on my mind was I need to eat and get some rest before the evening event. BUT NO. I had a reaction to something some thinks it was the stress of the night but never-the-less I had a virtual visit with my doctor who gave me a prescription right away. Not sure how much my portion of the visit will be after insurance but the medicine I got from the pharmacy was $12.00.
While I am at the pharmacy, I made good use of the waiting time and had a call with a mentor I was partnered up with from FinConX. I almost basked him if I could reschedule but I am glad I didn’t. Chris Peach gave me some great tips. I also loved his energy. PRICELESS
After getting dressed for the evening I headed to the greatest night of the year. If you know you know. And all I can say is it was all worth it.
The last day, I stopped to grab a Pepsi. Ok, I love Pepsi. There I met another small business owner from the area. We did out elevator pitches and kicked it off. She gave me suggestions on business comments in the area and advice on areas for consideration for my move (a story for a different blog post). I also supported her business right there $14.83.
As I sit here at the airport writing this I am super excited about how the economics of this last minute air travel trip turned out. I had a group finance strategy session, met with the It’$ My Money Sales Manager, Connected with one of my squad members and heard about the journey his achievements. In case you don’t know The Squad is my Facebook community. We share stories, wins, spotlight members and I give tips on how to increase your savings, maintain your budget, increase your credit score and earn money with side hustles. Check us out.
Now about to board my last leg heading home. I just got a cup of Starbucks coffee. $3.19.
Lesson learned, I could have gotten a less expensive flight into Norfolk which was twenty minutes from Newport News. Who knew? This is a direct result for not having enough time to research.
Ok. Now time for the total. This was a 3 day trip from CT to VA and Back, including flight and transportation:
Ok, ready for the best part, it is a business write off.
What do you think of the amount spent? Other than flying into Norfolk, any ideas of how I could have saved on this trip? Grab a free budget sheet
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