Last night on Instagram, I shared that I have the opportunity to do Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University through my work, and wow…two weeks in, and I really need to make some changes in my spending habits. The course could not be starting at a better time, because I am notorious for spending too much money, especially around the holidays.
When the holidays role around, it can be so easy to over spend or splurge on items that otherwise wouldn’t be worth splurging on. I often get caught up in the “sales” and the idea of saving money and end up spending so much more than I should on gifts for people that I really don’t need to buy anything for. Sound like you too? Try incorporating some of these tips into your holiday shopping this season!
Holiday Shopping Tip #1: Make a Budget and Stick to It
By far the hardest thing about shopping on a budget is sticking to it. Each Christmas, I make a list of who I need to buy a gift for and how much I want to spend per person. For my parents or grandparents, I usually give myself a range (i.e. $100-150), whereas with friends or distant relatives, I’ll usually try to stick to $25 or less. In many cases, I don’t even end up buying gifts for everyone I’ve allocated money for. It’s so much better to over budget than under budget, amiright???
One of the most important parts of budgeting is writing it down. Keeping a mental note of how much you’ve spent is one sure way to over spend during the holidays. You should write down your budget so you can reference it when shopping, check off gifts once you’ve purchased them, and if you’ve saved money in some places, you might even be able to redistribute the money for someone else’s gift.
You also shouldn’t feel obligated to buy everyone a gift. This is something I really struggle with, because I would love to give gifts to everyone, but that’s just not financially feasible right now. When I begin writing my list of people I need to shop for, I typically create some sort of ranking (i.e. my nephews will be the top on my list, parents/grandparents, siblings, and so on). I’ll be sharing my favorite DIY/low-cost gifts to give your family and friends over the next few weeks, so stay tuned. 🙂
Holiday Shopping Tip #2: Get an Accountability Shopping Buddy
It also isn’t a bad idea to share your budget with a friend, family member, or significant other. Having someone to keep you accountable while you shop for the holidays is a great way to stay on budget! It also might add a sense of competition, and if you’re like me, might make finding deals seem even more fun (my little sister has always been great at finding deals, too, so it’s always fun to see who saved the most money haha!).
Holiday Shopping Tip #3: Don’t Use Credit Cards
It seems like every Christmas for the last few years, I’ve been sucked into charging everything to my credit card. This year, I’m only purchasing gifts using cash. In my opinion, there’s no worse feeling than buying a really nice gift for someone, only to be stuck paying it off for the next few months because you spent too much money on it. I know it can be incredibly easy to charge everything, especially during a time when money always seems to be tight, but don’t do it! It’s not worth getting into debt. If you don’t have the money for a gift, don’t get it. If you think, “Oh, I’ll just pay it off later…”, don’t get it. Buy only what you can afford. Your friends and family will still love you the same, regardless if your giving everyone a new Michael Kors bag or a simple hand-written letter.
And when you’re not using your credit cards this holiday season, I would 100% recommend getting the Target REDcard! Did you know that that was even an option?! Essentially, the Target REDcard/debit card just links to your personal checking account (so you only spend the money that you actually have), you get 5% off every purchase, free shipping, and extended return periods! It’s a win-win.
Holiday Shopping Tip #4: Use Coupons
There should be absolutely no reason to not use coupons or discount codes during the holidays. Almost every store has sales going on, and if you look hard enough, you can find them! Subscribe to your favorite stores’ email list so that you get notified of sales and discount codes. Follow bloggers who have discount codes to hand out. There’s no shame in finding the best deal and don’t buy anything until you’re absolutely sure that’s the cheapest you can get it!
Holiday Shopping Tip #5: Download Apps & Save
Similar to finding coupons, downloading your favorite stores’ apps during the holidays is a super helpful way to save money. Target and Ulta are my personal faves, and they alert you when there’s new sales and promotions going on! I would also recommend downloading the RetailMeNot app (more coupons!!!) so that you can check for sales/cash back opportunities while you’re shopping. Apps and store reward cards also offer the added benefit of allowing you rack up points to cash in at a later date. If you’re spending so much money over the holidays, why not make sure that you get rewarded for it at a later date?
While these tips aren’t meant to be a complete guide to prevent you from overspending during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, incorporating even just one holiday shopping tip can help you stay on budget! I hope this list helps you think about how you’re going to tackle your holiday shopping this year, especially as I’m gearing up to start publishing some fun gift guides! 🙂
What are some ways that you save during the holidays? Do you have any go-to tips and tricks?
Happy shopping, friends!