'Tis the season to spend money, fa la la la la ...
Ok, while I definitely don't believe that the reason for the season is consumerism, there is no denying that this is an expensive as heck time of year. I went from being a single girl, working as a teacher living in free housing, to hosting the holidays in our home as a wife, mom, and stepmom. My bank account still doesn't know what happened to it.
However, I've learned a strategy or two over the past few years that have helped us to save money during the holidays - check them out!
1. Make a Budget.
We used to be notoriously bad for setting a number we wanted to stick with for spending ... and then completely disregarding it. (And if my husband is reading this, he's probably thinking, "WE!? It was YOU!"
Find, I admit it. I used to be really bad at budgets - but especially when it came to the holidays. For us, the easiest way to budget is to determine an amount we want to spend on each kid, what we are willing to spend on each other, a set number for our families, and then an "extras" budget for gift exchanges, parties, and other forgotten expenses.
Create a budget in the way that works for you - just make sure you make one!
2. Ok, Now Stick to Your Budget.
A budget is worthless if you don't track your spending and stick to it. The (free) Mint App is my favourite way to track my spending. Some people prefer spreadsheets, I've heard great things about the website You Need a Budget, and if pen and paper works for you, roll with it!
Once again, it doesn't matter how you do it. It just matters that you do.
3. Get Cash Back When You Shop
If you're going to shop, you might as well get a portion of your cash back - I mean, you were spending that money on presents anyway, right?! You can read more about Ebates - the best way to get money back when you shop online - here!
4. Do Your Research
When you find something you want to get for your special someone, it can be easy to press purchase immediately. However, if you can hold off and research the product, you might be able to find a cheaper price!
For example, I was looking at a controller for my stepson's Wii U tonight; the cost on Amazon was over $100. However, when I looked it up at a local store, I found one for $44. Impulse buying can hurt your budget, so take the time to weigh your options.
5. Remember What it'S All About
Before you get completely caught up in consumerism, reflect on different ways you can give back, how you can teach your kids about gratitude and kindness, and if you can make things more about family and less about sales, more about love and less about stuff.
For our family, we will look for volunteer opportunities, implement Gratitude Jars with our Elf on the Shelf (read about that here!), and value experiences over presents they will never use.
How do you cut costs during the holidays?