It’s the most wonderful time of the year – at least for retailers, who know we’re all prepared to spend our hard-earned money on presents for our loved ones. Let’s be honest, though: The Holidays are the most expensive time of year for most of us. But, with some careful planning and a strategy, you can make to the end of December relatively unscathed (at least financially).
Planning ahead for Christmas
The first thing you should do is make a list and check it twice. Know exactly who you want to shop for and what you want to buy for them. Shopping for others can be difficult – especially for your pickier friends and family members, so create a budget.
To avoid scrambling – and spending more than you’d like – write down the names of every person for whom you’d like to shop. Then, do some online sleuthing to find gift inspiration. Choose gifts you think they would like before even heading to a store (or buying online) and try to find the best price available. As we love to say around here: It pays to shop around. Google is your friend.
Note the prices of all the gifts you’ve chosen and make sure they fit within your holiday budget. If not, make some tweaks and find alternative gift ideas, a cheaper option or a gift card for the amount you can afford. This strategy will ensure you don’t get sucked into making any impulse purchases and go over budget.
Start buying Christmas gifts throughout the year
Admittedly, this is a tip for 2020 Christmas shopping. But someone needed to say it: This last minute scrambling is stressful, right? Keep that in mind next year and spread your spending out over the next 12 months. See a cute pair of shoes (that are on sale) for your daughter in March? Buy them and set them aside until next Christmas.
While shopping throughout the year may not save you money in the long run, it will help you spread the payments out and take some of the financial stress out of your end-of-year shopping.
If you really want to wait until Christmas for your shopping to take advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing day – and you love crowds – start a high interest savings account and put money away every week so you have the amount you need next year.
Take advantage of sales
It’s too late to take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday (assuming you have the stomach to brave the former), but that doesn’t mean deals aren’t still available. Search online for any sales in your nearest mall, shops, and online stores. And keep in mind the aforementioned big sale days next year, when you’re doing the whole thing over again.
Several online shops have daily deals leading up to the big day, so check back often. Even talk to the representatives in the store and try to get the inside scoop.
Use the right credit card (or cash)
We at Ratehub.ca are obviously big fans of using the right card for the right purchase. That’s assuming, of course, you’re able to pay your balance off in full each month.
Using a cash back credit card throughout the year can help you earn points and redeem them for cash before the Holiday season. That could mean an extra few hundred dollars in your pocket when it comes time to splurge for Christmas gifts.
During the Holiday season, however, opt for cash purchases if you feel like you might have to carry a balance on your card for over a month. This will help you stay within budget and not have to shell out extra cash to cover your credit card interest.
Secret Santa ideas for a big family
Christmas can be especially expensive if you’ve got a large family. After all, the more gifts you have to buy, the more money you have to spend. One way to cut down on your expenses is to cut the number of people you have to buy for. Set up a Secret Santa with your family or you friends so that each person only has one gift to buy.
How it works: Gather your group and put everyone’s name in a hat. Have each person draw a name. The person who draws a name has to buy for that person – and that person only. Simple, right? And cheap. Set up budget-friendly limit for each person, too!
The bottom line
January can be a dreaded time for many, as credit card statements come in and bills come due. Take some of that stress away by sticking to our few simple rules and your future self with thank you for it.
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