The countdown to the 25th of December is well underway. The deals of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are long gone. If you haven’t finished—or started—shopping, there are still ways to not break the bank and end up paying for the holidays well into the new year.
MAKE A LIST
It’s easy to both find things for yourself when shopping and to get into the spirit of the season buying too many or too expensive gifts. To constrain your generosity, make a list of not just who you’re going to buy for, but what you’re going to buy for them.
Greeting cards probably go on the list under every person. These can run 50c to well over $5 each. Opt for something at the low end of the spectrum or send free e-cards instead.
Remember wrapping paper, bows, bags, ribbon, tape, etc., most of which can be found discounted at a local dollar store. (Once your family has opened gifts, save the bags for re-use next year).
CHECK IT TWICE
You have a couple of chances to save money before even going shopping. You now have the ability to price shop. Take some time online to compare prices for the items on your list. Are the items in stock and cheaper at a local wholesale club, Amazon, or a department store? Are there sales online not offered in store or coupons you can print from the website and use in store?
Second, with your detailed list, you now have the ability to consolidate. Can you get your neighbors one household gift instead of two separate items? Does each person on your list really need five gifts each or will three be enough?
PAY WITH CASH ONLY
If you can’t pay cash for the items on your list, keep trimming the list down. You’ll thank yourself in July when you’re not still paying interest on December purchases. Take some time to figure out how much disposable cash you have left for the year and allocate it among the people on your list.
AND MAKE THIS YEAR COUNT
Keep track of how much you spent on each person on the list. Also note if you wanted to spend more than you were able to. Then jot down the cost for things like wrapping paper and other supplies.
When you have a total number, you have your savings goal for 2019. Divide the number by 12 and each month of 2019 save that much money. Then your next gift-giving season will already be paid for.
To help with meeting your savings goal, consider opening a new savings account or check if your bank offers savings clubs (i.e., visually separate accounts within the same bank account). Then update your direct deposit form with your employer to include an automatic separate direct deposit to this new savings account.