Here are some tips to save money this holiday season:
1. Start early.
January is best! Review your cash flow and set up a monthly savings plan. Look for ways to cut your spending so that you can save a little bit each week. By December, these small savings deposits will have gone a long way toward reaching your spending goals.
2. Start late.
Since many retailers have big sales after the holidays, you may want to give the gift of an IOU and then purchase the gift after the price has been drastically reduced.
3. Make a gift list with a dollar-amount limit.
This can help you avoid impulse purchasing. Don't forget to take the list with you every time you go shopping, to make sure you stay within your budget!
4. Give the gift of holiday cheer.
Check your local library, school and community agencies for holiday events, especially those that your children can participate in without cost.
5. Spend each holiday weekend as a family, enjoying holiday events together.
The more interactive, the better. Activities like caroling, sleigh riding, and visiting different religious locations to understand more about how all people celebrate the holidays are good ways to make the holidays meaningful.
6. Make the holidays special by sharing with others.
You can organize a cookie exchange with other parents at school and involve your children in shopping for the ingredients and baking the cookies. You can also have your kids collect toys that they no longer play with and give them to a charity. This is a great way to introduce the concept of sharing.
7. Look around you for gift ideas.
Pinecones, seashells, and dried flowers are examples of items you can use to make holiday decorations and personal gifts. Check the library for books on holiday crafts and gift making.
8. Give your children the gift of learning how to save.
Open a savings account for them even if you have only $10 to start. This gift will last a lifetime.
9. Don't procrastinate.
Many consumers leave many purchases and gift-buying to the last minute. When you are rushed, you will buy almost anything, without paying attention to your budget.
10. Be honest about your budget.
If you are watching your pennies this season, let your family and relatives know. This may be difficult and embarrassing, but the best gift you can give your family is financial stability.
11. Don't count on money you don't have.
Don't base your holiday budget on an expected raise or bonus that may not materialize. Similarly, don't count on a "hot" stock to double in value.
12. Remember that holiday shopping is not a time for personal shopping.
In addition to purchasing gifts for others, many consumers add their own names to the shopping list. Many consumers regularly plan to take advantage of holiday sales to make non-gift purchases for themselves.