7 Ways to Save Money During Christmas
- Before you start Christmas shopping, have a plan and a budget.
- If you travel during the holidays, there are money hacks that can help you reduce travel expenses and save money.
- Avoid going into debt during the holidays because the debt cycle can be challenging to break.
Two guarantees during the holiday season are gaining weight and spending money. While we can’t help you with your one-more-slice-of-pie-won’t-hurt problem, we can shed some light on how to keep more money in your pocket.
Spending money during the holidays is not a new problem. Even the character Scrooge from the book A Christmas Carol says, “What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money?” In other words, we’ve been overdoing it on Christmas since at least the 1800s. So we’ve got centuries of this-is-how-it’s-always-been-done to overcome.
So if you’re tired of spending too much money on Christmas shopping or want to avoid holiday debt this year, below are seven tips on how you can save money during the holiday season.
1. Avoid Holiday Debt
When you overspend on Christmas gifts when using a credit card, you don’t just owe the money that you overspent, but you also owe interest. If you spend months or years paying off your Christmas debts, you will have less money to spend on Christmas next year.
You must be intentional about avoiding debt, so you can put more money into your pocket for next year. A great strategy for this is to set yourself a hard budget. In other words, don't buy it if it is out of your price range.
Now a budget is like a diet—nobody seems to stick to one. So this will take a lot of discipline. Creating a budget for Christmas gifts allows you to avoid debt and still get your family members presents. When you are intentional about avoiding debt, you will have some wiggle room in your finances to set aside money for Christmas early in the new year.
2. Frugal Travel
For most of us, the holidays can mean traveling across the country or even across the globe, which can be very expensive. Try sending a family of four anywhere on a plane the week of Christmas, and you’ll understand that it isn’t cheap, plus it can be a headache. But, if you are adamant about seeing your family, because that’s what the holidays are all about, then there are ways to travel for less money.
Travel by Plane
For example, if you must buy a plane ticket, don’t wait until the last minute, like during the month you plan to travel. Prices always go up then, and there are no guarantees that there will be seats on the plane. Also, midweek tickets are usually cheaper than weekend tickets, so flexibility is a huge advantage.
Travel by Car
Driving your car can be much cheaper than flying by plane, especially if you have more than one person going. But only take this route if you’re skilled at driving, even in bad weather conditions. Getting into a car accident will not save you money.
Use Your Credit Card Rewards to Save Money
You can also use credit card rewards to pay for traveling expenses which can save you money. Of course, keep in mind that if you’re paying interest on your credit card to get those rewards, you are not getting a bargain. So don’t overspend on your credit card just for the reward because the reward points (or cashback rewards) will ultimately cancel themselves out due to the interest you have to pay.
Recommended Reading: How to Plan a Cheap Family Vacation
3. Track Sales Prices
Prices fluctuate quite dramatically throughout the year. So, the sooner you start price-checking the items you want to buy for Christmas, the easier it is to identify a good deal. As much as we’d like to believe that businesses are gouging us, usually, holiday sales are real sales, so using those discounts as a baseline will help you determine the right time to buy gifts.
Recommended Read: Three Reasons to Start Your Holiday Shopping Now
4. Compare Prices Online
Before starting your shopping spree, you can compare different stores' prices online. Something may be cheaper at one store than another. This method will help you to plan better and stop you from overspending. Some stores even have what’s called a price match guarantee.
So if you don’t want to run all over town but still want a deal, you can research which stores have the price match guarantee, find the items that are cheaper elsewhere, and get those prices matched.
5. Make Homemade and Meaningful Gifts
If you’re committed to a frugal Christmas, making gifts can be a great option. This doesn’t mean you’ll only be giving glitter-covered cards to each other. A handmade ornament, a hand-knitted scarf, key chains, coasters, and other fun things can be made by hand.
If you are skeptical about handmade things, you can use this bonus tip. Many things that you want can be found at second-hand stores for much less. Especially toys and games for young children. You can save a lot of money by simply shopping secondhand.
You can find great deals at thrift stores or online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace. Some of the items you find may only be used a couple of times or none at all. So this is a great way to save money and still gift your children and the adults in your family a lovely and thoughtful gift.
Recommended Reading: Five Tips for Holiday Shopping for a Picky Person
6. Gift Items You Already Planned to Buy
The anticipation and excitement we get from opening a gift are really what we’re after. So gifting things that you would have bought anyway increases the number of gifts without increasing the cost to you in the long run. So, wait until Christmas to buy socks, clothing, fancy pencils for school, a laptop for work, or whatever you or your loved ones need.
By using Tip #3, you can strategically track a company's discount sales throughout the year. This will save you money because you already planned to purchase these items, but now you are buying them at a discounted rate.
7. Use Cashback App Gift Cards
Cashback apps can store points throughout the year as you use them. When the time comes, you can use the points to buy gift cards to use for Christmas. This is money that was never in your budget but can grow to a relatively large amount if you diligently use them. That means you get a more “extravagant” Christmas without an extravagant budget.
Credit Card Cashback Rewards
If you consistently use your credit cards throughout the year, and they offer cashback on purchases, then you can use your cashback money to buy gifts for family and friends.
The Money Wrap-Up
Saving money during the holiday season can be hard. However, by following these tips, you can have an enjoyable Christmas without breaking the bank. As you are shopping for Christmas gifts, keep two things in mind.
Donate to a Local Charity
Charities are at their greatest point of need during the holiday season. The holiday season is the perfect time to give, so make sure there is room in your budget to give a monetary donation. If you can’t give a financial gift, then donate your time. Your time is a significant commodity, so using it to help another person or family can be a tremendous gift.
Buy From a Local Business
Local businesses are doing their best to compete with huge international corporations during the holiday season. By buying an item from their store or simply making a donation, we can help our communities thrive.
Sometimes where you spend your money is more important than saving it. There is power in the money you spend, and what you decide to spend it on can make a difference. But above all, remember to avoid going into debt because the debt cycle can be a challenging cycle to break.