The holiday season is finally here! While the circumstances may look a bit different from years past, there are still plenty of reasons to celebrate.
The cost of ice skating, gift shopping, and other holiday festivities can quickly add up if you do not keep your eye on them. As the dollar signs pile up, you may be left financially scrambling during the early months of 2021.
Want to get the most bang for your buck this holiday season? Let’s explore some helpful tips and tricks.
Prepare a Holiday Budget
The first step in any money-saving venture involves making a budget. Even if you already have a household budget, a unique holiday budget can help you plan for any infrequent expenses. Accounts are individual because there is no “right” way to make one – they are each unique to the spender.
Map out your holiday calendar. These festivities can include hosting a family dinner, exchanging “white elephant” gifts at a party, or traveling.
Analyze how much you can spend without derailing your cash flow for other household expenses. If you already have a household budget, you will most likely know how much cash is left over. If you don’t, no problem! You can perform a quick calculation to see where you can find some extra money.
Fit activities within budget spending limits. You are almost there! With your calendar in hand and budget in the other, you can fit your actions within your set amount.
Whether you’re hoping to drive, fly, or take a train over the holidays, why not save money while you are at it?
Be flexible on dates (if possible)
If you’re planning to fly, you could save hundreds of dollars on plane tickets by using a booking site with the feature to search for flights with flexible departure and arrival dates. Often, moving your arrival or departure date by just a couple of days can get you out of the premium price range.
Consider travel rewards
You may already have a travel-focused credit card (that is, one that gives spending rewards in the form of airline miles or hotel points). If so, you can capitalize on these benefits by using tips to cover a portion of travel costs. Many card issuers offer promotions that can provide you with great miles or points if you meet certain minimum spending limits, and meeting these limits during the holiday season can be a breeze.
Save on Holiday Gifts
When the holidays roll around, Santa isn’t the only one making a list and checking it twice. But the size of this list (and the cost of purchasing gifts for everyone on it) can quickly become unmanageable.
Trim your shopping list
Chances are, you are not the only one that is budgeting during this holiday season. Consider talking to relatives and loved ones to see whether they’d prefer to have a Secret Santa group gift exchange instead of buying individual gifts. You can also look into unique, handmade gifts over the big-box retailer purchases. Often, personal gifts are the ones that mean the most. These handmade creations can include making your vanilla extract, having a family bath-bomb-making night, or creating mason jar soup or cookie mixes.
If you’re hosting a holiday dinner (or two) this year, the cost of feeding so many extra people can be a budget-buster. But between seasonal sales and careful menu planning, you can quickly put together a fantastic feast without overspending.
Shop sales and use coupons
Who doesn’t love a good coupon?! With millions of American families planning some celebration this holiday season, staple items like turkeys, hams, stuffing, gravy, and cake mix have never been cheaper.
Many blogs and websites offer regionally-targeted posts explaining exactly where to get specific coupons and when to use them to get the most bang for your buck. You can even sign up for daily emails that alert you to price changes and discount deals.
Plan your menu around what’s on sale
Using coupons is always a money-saver, but combining coupons with items that are already deeply discounted is the best way to hack your grocery bill. Doing this can help you begin new family traditions and try recipes that otherwise never would have made it to your holiday table.
Decorate in Style
Holiday decorations are crucial to creating a festive and celebratory mood. But using the same decorations year after year can get old, and you may want to shake things up with fresh decor. For those who are just starting, getting outfitted with holiday decorations can seem overwhelming.
Thrift your decor
Many fun and festive holiday decorations can be found for next to nothing at dollar stores. You can also make inexpensive and cherished holiday decorations by doing crafts with your kids, friends, or other family members. If you enjoy holiday baking, you can even try your hand at creating a homemade gingerbread house.
Remain on the hunt for Holiday deals
After the holiday season is over and Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day decorations have hit the shelves, check craft stores and big box stores for discount holiday decor that you can save to use next year.
Set up a local swap group
By swapping your gently used decorations with friends, you’ll get new-to-you decor without spending a dime. You may also want to check out local buy, sell, and trade groups, where you can find used items for a fraction of the original cost.
Generate Extra Savings
One of the easiest ways to free up some income to put toward your annual holiday expenses is to refinance your student loans. If you refinance your student loans, you could save money through a lower interest rate or lessen your monthly student loan payments by extending your repayment term.
There’s never been a better time than the holidays to cut this extra cost from your budget, and checking available rates is easy and free. Just visit LendKey’s website and click the “Apply Now” button to check your rates without harming your credit score. When you refinance your student loans, you’ll be able to select between different loan terms and interest rates to find something that works well within your budget.
Priceless Memories at an Affordable Price
The holidays can remain fun and festive without putting a dent in your budget—after all, no one wants to start the new year buried under a mountain of debt. And because the holidays’ true spirit involves doing the things you love with the people you love, focusing on this will help you make the most valuable memories in the long run.