The warm cookie aroma and festive light displays can only mean two things: the holidays are here and so are the extra expenses. Don’t let holidays break your bottom line. Dash through the season with the 5 merry money tips below to ‘sleigh’ your holiday budget and keep your credit bright.
1. Make a list and check it twice
Jot down what and who you need to buy for this year. And before you start wheeling and dealing out gifts, make sure you’ve accounted for all of your holiday travel expenses and grocery needs first. Once you cover these, now we can move on to fun stuff… presents!
Assign each person on your gift list a specific amount that you are comfortable spending. From there, only research gifts that fit within that budget range. To make it easy, start online before you head into a store. Online shops typically allow you to search for items in your designated price range to prevent overspending. Before you hit the buy button, make sure to compare prices from a few different vendors and always search for coupons codes prior to making your final purchase.
2. Shop sales
Holiday sales offer some of the biggest product savings of the year. But if you’re not careful, those discounted temptations can take a toll on your annual budget as well as your credit. If you can’t find what you need online, here’s how to master the massive in-person sales.
First, have a plan and bring your list with you. Second, make a pact to only buy the specific items you’re looking for. These tips can help you prevent those last-minute impulse buys on items like stocking stuffers and those oh-so-cute shoes just because they still have your size.
Finally, bring a shopping buddy. In-person holiday shopping is no joke. The quicker you can get in and out, the better! Assign gift buying duties to each person in your shopping squad and cross off items from your list as you go.
3. Don’t fall for excessive card offers
Jumping the sleigh to cash in on those 15% off store cards can really bite your credit scores in the mistletoe for months or even years! Here’s what you should know to keep your credit bright.
If you shop at a store on a regular basis and if payments are typically not an issue for you, then a store card discount may be beneficial. With that said, signing up for too many over a short period of time or not being responsible with your payments could hurt your credit. Therefore, if you already have several store cards cramping your wallet, it might be best to just say, “no.”
A 15% or 20% store discount could end up costing you more than you may have bargained for, especially if you slip up on your bills. To learn more about best credit practices or how you can use ScoreShuttle to manage your credit and compare card offers online, click here to start for free.
4. Teamwork makes the season work
All you type-A personalities out there, this one’s for you! Even if you love doing it all, it’s not so great for your health or your budget.
Instead of cooking every dish and buying an extravagant present for each person on your list, try working as a team to dominate the holidays. Ask your fellow dinner party members to bring a specific food item or drink to your gathering to drastically cut down on cost and prep time.
If you a have a lot of people to buy for this year, try group gifting or a fun present exchange game to minimize cost and maximize on the fun!
5. Consider meaning over price
Sure, a $100 gift card to someone’s favorite store is great. But do you know what can be even more impactful and surprisingly far less expensive? A handmade gift from the heart.
Instead of flooding your holiday celebrations with ‘stuff’ why not try words, a song, or a meaningful memory? Get an old, forgotten about family photo and refurbish it with a new frame and new look. Write a letter, a poem, or even a song about someone for a touching tribute to your relationship. The meaning behind a gift will go much further than any price tag.