The economy is slumping, and experts say that people will be spending significantly less this holiday season than last season. Budgets are a little tighter, and we’re all worrying too much about our 401(k) rather than our upcoming holiday gift list. The first thing to remember is that it’s not a requirement to spend a ton of money on the holidays. This idea that we need to stimulate the economy by spending more money is so superficial. The people that go on TV and say the economy is doing bad, because people are spending less is just absurd. No, we’re being smart with our money, instead of going out and buying a bunch of crap that we don’t need. Anyway, here are five ways you can save money this holiday season and still spread the joy of giving.
- Write a list of people you want to give gifts and put a dollar amount next to each person’s name. We’ve done it ever since we’ve been married. We say, “Mom: $XX.XX” and we stick to that number for the gift(s) we get her. You don’t have to be crazy about spending the exact amount, but give or take a couple of bucks on the figure you come to. Total it up and see what your budget looks like. If the budget looks to high, make some revisions, or if it’s too low, amp up the amounts for the little ones on your list, because their faces on Christmas Day are the best.
- Focus on one big gift rather than a bunch of gifts. Personally, if a loved one is going to spend money on me, I’d rather have him or her get me a nice gift that I really want rather than a bunch of smaller, more insignificant gifts. This works well with children. Sometimes, parents go way overboard with dozens upon dozens of $10 to $20 gifts. Try buying them two or three bigger gifts, and you could end up saving money. If you want them to have more things to open, do what my mom did. She wrapped up every pair of new underwear and socks for me to open, but then she had a new Nintendo hidden until the end.
- Choose the most important holiday parties to attend. Hopping to holiday after holiday party can get expensive. Choose the ones from your family and best friends and skip out on the ones hosted by co-workers and acquaintances.
- Shop at discount stores rather than the mall. if you want to see the full-effect of the mark-up at shopping malls, go into a music store and see how much they charge for a CD. They’ll typically charge $17 to $18 per CD, when you can buy the same one at Target or Wal-Mart for $12 to $13 dollars. Typically, you’ll get a 15 to 25% mark-up from stores in malls, because they’re paying for all of that overhead to be in a nice, indoor mall. Kohl’s and Marshall’s are two of my favorite stores for men’s clothing. They sell really nice stuff for half the price of Macy’s and Dillard’s.
- Pay with cash. You might say to yourself that you’ll pay off the credit card after the holidays, but things happen and before you know it, you’re carrying the holiday balance into April. Don’t pay for unnecessary interest and fees on credit cards on items that you’re not even keeping!
Post your tips for saving money during the holidays in the comment section below.