School just started and we’ve barely begun digesting all the pumpkin spice, so how are we to honestly begin thinking about the holidays already?
Well, the largest part of budgeting is preparedness. So, while it does seem a little early, preparing for the holidays on a budget requires plenty of advance strategy and painstaking planning.
Have a List
First thing’s first. You must have a list and stick to it. When you don’t have a list that you can stick to, you risk over-spending way beyond your budget. Consider two kinds of lists:
- Gift List
- Person List
In order to create a list that works, you’ll need to create a list for every person who will receive a gift from you, and within that list, you’ll need to assign what you’re planning on gifting them.
Decide Your Maximum Limit
Deciding your maximum spending limit will allow you to have an idea of what portion of your money will be reserved for gift-giving. Additionally, deciding your maximum spending limit will force you to get creative with the gifts you give!
Buy Items on Sale
Now that you have listed out all the gifts you anticipate buying, you can begin watching for deals, coupons, sales, and clearances. For larger-priced items, especially keep your eye on weekly circulars and online coupon programs like Groupon, Honey, and RetailMeNot.
Consider Dirty Santa Instead of Buying Gifts for Everyone
Playing games like Dirty Santa really only works if you anticipate that you’re going to do most of the gifts and family/friend events at one time. When you have a large family or friend circle, Dirty Santa can be a life-saver when it comes to gift-giving.
Only Use Cash
Over-spending your credit cards could lead to worst-case scenarios like bankruptcy when coupled with things like medical bills and foreclosure. This is why it’s vital to only use cash while buying gifts.
Consider Alternative Gifts
Yearly gift subscriptions are definitely the newest alternative gift! Even magazine subscriptions can truly bring a smile to someone’s face. Just don’t forget to pay attention to the length of the subscription.
Rack Up the Free Gift Cards
Finally, when you’re really looking to cut corners (and have fun while doing it), the best way to save on gift-giving is to collect free gift cards following these tips. Something to consider, however, is a lot of the incentives for receiving free gift cards end up with cheaper balances on the card like $5, $10, or $20. But, these make the perfect gifts for a coworker, church member, or family member who you don’t plan to spend a lot of money on.