With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are struggling to budget the costs of gifts. Little gifts can add up fast. Your overall budget at the end of the season is what should really worry you; purchasing gifts for only 5 family members could turn ugly, $1,000 later.
Though it’s the spirit of the season and giving and getting gifts is never a waste of time, effort, or love, the ramifications of squandering your funds generously may have a costly kickbacks, effecting you immediately and months down the road. While the U.S. is home to many different holidays, there are a few that usually end up costing an individual a pretty penny. Do not fear, as we can combat these financial crises, and learn to save money on (almost) every holiday.
New Year’s Day
A New Year is a new opportunity to learn how to budget time and savings. Limit your New Year’s Day sale shopping. There will be a few decent deals out there, but a better deal will pop-up in a month for President’s Day. Gym memberships are sure to be overpriced with a heap of New Year’s Resolutions that won’t pan out; if you’re in need of a new gym, best to wait until February.
The Fourth of July
“America’s Birthday” is a time for celebrating what makes our country great: sports and food! The local block parties and family/friend cookouts have been a mainstay for the last century. When attending one of these gatherings, be sure to know your audience—is it an adult-oriented party, or will family be there? The next step is to venture to a retail warehouse such as Sam’s Club or Costco, but if you don’t have a membership, Wal-Mart will do just fine.
At the market, save money by purchasing in bulk—buns, patties, condiments, beverages—but only purchase what was asked of you. It’s a party, so there will be other people just as willing to contribute to the fun!
One more tip: unless there are children around, or you’re an aficionado, refrain from buying any cheap fireworks, like pop-rocks, sparklers, or fountains.
Labor Day is the first Monday in September and honors the American Labor Movement, the backbone of our country. While the 4th of July honors our country, Labor Day honors the people in it. Fortunately for all of us, Labor Day Weekend sales feature some of the best deals all year long; unfortunately for you, you’re trying to save.
I would recommend that you only purchase an item that has been on your wish list for some time now and is heavily featured in the sale, otherwise, the best way to save for Labor Day is to relax and enjoy the extra day off from the comforts of your own home.
Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday
The end of November is a time for giving and family, and usually the way it pans out for most of us is a headache that’s only cure is a glass of your favorite “adult drink”. Here are some helpful ways to save over the course of the lovingly hectic weekend.
- Thanksgiving Travel: Book your flight at least a month in advance if you want to get even a remotely adequate deal. A trick to this is using a travel app like Google Flights or Kayak and search for you flights late at night in the hours around the day change—your results may surprise you.
If you’re driving, avoid the highway around larger metropolitan cities, and make sure you’re packed and out the door on-time. Gas may be unavoidable, but you could save a few dollars on snacks from the grocery over the gas station.
- Friendsgiving: Many of us can’t get away to see family, and instead will spend our time with a surrogate or makeshift family, formed by a collection of friends. As with the 4th of July, be a gracious guest or host, but don’t be the only reliable one. Purchase only what’s asked of you, and then something for yourself, with a little wiggle room to share.
- Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Here’s where you need to choose between the two. More than likely, you will partake in one of these shopping events, perhaps for something large, maybe something small, it doesn’t matter—what matters is that you only choose one and then stick to your guns. Doing so could possibly save you hundreds of dollars!
The Holiday Season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa)
No matter what you celebrate, if anything, you’re going to more than likely buy something special for the people in your life that will show them you care, even though they already know that (hopefully). ‘Tis the season that could make your break your bank account.
Much like Thanksgiving, travel plans NEED to be figured out almost a month in advance—think about utilizing Cyber Monday for a Christmas flight home.
As previously mentioned, little purchases will add up. It is important to go into the holiday season with a budget: include a list of your loved ones, what you’re willing to spend on them, and what the cap is on spending. This mentality should also mean you spend some time on your decisions, well before the purchase.
Favoritism does not go in tandem with love, but when you’re on a budget, it’s okay to buy your close family members more expensive gifts, just be sure everything fits in the scheme of your budget ceiling.
New Year’s Eve
Ah yes, back where it all began. New Year’s Eve can get pretty expensive, especially if you’re bar-hopping, throwing a party, or going to a fancy shindig somewhere. Budgeting on the last day of a hard year, may be the most challenging task, but if the Holidays set you back, that may be a blessing in disguise, as you’ll want to cozy up with a loved one or some close friends and relax to watch the ball drop.
Trying new ways to celebrate holidays and just taking the time to plan ahead and budget are the ideal ways to save money over the holidays. We hope that you will be able to get more in-touch with your frugal side in the upcoming new year.