The holiday season doesn’t have to drain your bank accounts. Here are a few tips to avoid overspending and stay within your regular savings goals.
A holiday budget can guide you on how much to spend on each gift, setting guardrails during a time when it can be tempting to dig into your savings.
Start by making a list of everyone you plan to buy a gift for. Add the cost of the ideal gift for each one. Tally it up. Compare it to your regular monthly expense. Then make adjustments as needed.
Try reallocating your regular expenses for a few weeks. For instance, if you tend to go out to dinner every week or two, you could opt for a few home-cooked meals instead and use that money to bulk up your holiday budget.
But try to stick to your regular savings contributions. And try to avoid relying on credit. Use your cards for convenient and online shopping, but use your holiday budget to make sure you can pay off the full balance by the end of the month.
It can be helpful to re-evaluate who’s on your gift list. A long list of people outside of your closest circle can rack up a lot of spending quickly.
Try floating alternatives with a friend or two. Suggest an affordable, memorable activity, like ice skating or even a simple walk together, instead of exchanging gifts.
With extended family or a group of friends, try starting a Secret Santa-type tradition, where everyone buys a gift for only one person, either by blind selection, like pulling names from a hat, or by choice. Set a reasonable spending cap, and then exchange gifts together, when you can, to share the fun and surprise.
Try to avoid waiting until the last minute. With the cushion of a few weeks, you can use the time to find thoughtful gifts within your budget. Instead of stressing, you’ll be more present and flexible, able to focus on the fun, knowing you’ve got a little extra in your account.
Waiting until the last minute, you may face higher shipping fees, and you’re more likely to stray from your budget, with more items out of stock, forcing you to more expensive alternatives.
The latest electronics or other trendy items can be priced at a premium. Consider skipping gadgets and opting for something more personal.
That could mean anything! Just think about what’s meaningful to your friend. What can help them save time? What’s a simple pleasure they enjoy? What can you give that shows you care about what’s important to them?
What about compiling a notebook of favorite recipes? Or arranging a special outing, like tickets to a concert or a museum? Or a special night at home, cooking together or renting a new movie with special treats on hand.
The holidays are filled with sales and offers. Take some time in your gift search to comparison shop -- it’s often as simple as checking a search engine to find the same or a similar item at a lower price.
It’s also worth searching online for coupon codes or finally using the ones always turning up in your mailbox. A few smart discounts can make a substantial impact.
If it’s not too late, check out Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and discounts -- the deals often linger past the actual calendar dates.
Bright can help you save more through the holidays.
Bright can work for you during the holidays and throughout the year, keeping your spending on track, making smart card payments for you and building your savings, automatically.
Bright’s MoneyScience™ studies your spending habits and finds the fastest, smartest way to pay off your cards and build your savings, moving funds when it makes sense for you.
Bright even adjusts automatically when your finances shift, like during the holidays. And in the weeks and months after, Bright can pay off your cards 7x faster - while building your savings faster than most people can on their own.
With a postgraduate degree in commerce from The University of Sydney, Pranay has his finger on the pulse of the finance industry. Breaking down complex financial concepts is his forte.