On Fridays, I share money-saving tips I have actually used (or am working on). The posts are typically short and sweet little guides, giving you ideas to work on saving money or, in this case, preparing in order to save more.
If you’re like me, most years the holiday season rolls around before you know it and you’re scrambling right up until the very last minute.
Let’s just be honest here and call it what it is – good ole procrastination. Unfortunately this procrastination can lead to overspending when we’re trying to complete our shopping and preparations in time.
Let’s change that this year, shall we? Together, let’s make a vow. This year, we shall be prepared! (You’ll be thanking me for this in November and December! 😉 )
In this post, I’m providing two options for holiday preparations. While some of us still like to do traditional gift giving, others prefer to move toward a more simple, less consumer driven holiday. Both require forethought, so I’m providing a prep list for both.
Traditional Gift Giving Holiday Preparation List
1. Take 15 – 30 minutes this weekend to make your list (you can check it twice if you’d like). Make a list of everyone you need to buy for and jot down gift ideas for them. Don’t forget to include any supplies that you will need for hosting parties or guests at your home as well (do you need a new set of sheets for grandma and grandpa?).
2. Figure out your budget now.
No budget? On your list of gifts/supplies, put a pricetag on each item and see what it all adds up to. If this is affordable, great! That’s your budget, just be sure to stick to it. If it’s not affordable, you need to reevaluate your list, figure out where to cut back so you won’t break the bank (or worse, borrowing to pay for things).
3. Start saving now for those gifts if you haven’t already. Put a little aside into a designated savings account each week or month and/or bank those cash back rewards on your credit cards.
4. Watch for sales and pick up gifts early. This is a win-win – you get it on sale and you don’t have to buy it in November or December.
Many of the back-to-school sales provide great deals on laptops, clothing, and art supplies.
Pick up freebies (coupons/giveaways) for smaller gifts or stocking stuffers.
5. Don’t forget to track your spending along the way to make sure you stay within budget.
6. If you will be traveling, now is the time to start shopping for airfare and/or lodging. Watch prices and try to be flexible with your dates to get lower fares. You still have time to do a little travel hacking, if that’s an option for you.
Simple, More Minimalist Holiday Preparation List
I have to be honest here, holiday shopping is not something I like to think about. I do not enjoy “shopping” in the least (thank goodness for Amazon!). While my family does exchange a few gifts, we’ve simplified the holidays more and more with each year, making it more relaxing, fun and affordable for everyone. Very few gifts are exchanged at our home, but we love having tasty food, a fire in the fireplace, games to play and family to spend time with.
1. If you are considering moving away from traditional gift giving, now is the time to start discussions (or negotiations) with your family and friends, explaining why you are simplifying and cutting back on gifts (Let them know you are focusing on time and experiences instead).
2. Consider doing a gift exchange or white elephant gifts instead of giving to every single person.
3. Give experiences rather than material “stuff”. Tickets to a movie, play, or a museum membership make great gifts.