Chances are the Kardashians won’t be cutting back on spending this holiday season. From a 1956 Ford Thunderbird to a custom-designed Hermès bag, the sisters are famous for shelling out a little (ok, a lot) extra. But unless you have the budget to keep up with the Kardashians, it might be a good idea to consider a different strategy for your holiday spending.
Stretch this year’s savings a little bit further with the following spending tips.
Build a budget
When bills begin to pile up, the holiday season becomes anything but the most wonderful time of the year. According to research from Experian, more than half of all shoppers feel stressed about their finances, while 43 percent say the extra expenses make the holidays difficult to enjoy.
Avoid the anxiety that comes with spending more than you can afford by creating a budget before making any purchases. While it may be tempting to start adding items to your gift list, hold off until you have an idea of who you want to shop for and how much you want to spend on each person.
Already started shopping without a budget? No problem! You can still reduce stress by making a budget. Just press pause on the shopping, assess what you’ve done already, add what you are able to set aside for the rest of your shopping, and make a plan from there.
Striking the right balance will ensure there’s enough in savings for everyone on your list. If, for example, you want to dedicate a bigger slice of your budget toward a parent or sibling, try getting creative with the rest of your gift ideas. Whether it’s setting up price alerts so you can snatch the best deal or putting together a homemade present, finding different ways to save can help free up cash to buy more expensive items.
Spend time, not money
Trying to find the perfect gift for each friend or family member takes time. Money, on the other hand, isn’t always necessary. Consider hosting events that bring loved ones together – such as a holiday movie night or cookie baking party – instead of participating in a traditional gift exchange. Being clear about the fact that only kids will receive presents can help take some of the burden off family members who are hoping to stay under budget during the holiday season (chances are strong you’re not the only one who will appreciate this).
Once you’ve set the expectation that events will take the place of gifts, offer up a few options before putting any plans in motion. Since interests are bound to differ, it will help to gauge who has the time or motivation to attend each gathering. Not seeing much enthusiasm? Take suggestions from the rest of the group. Opening up the discussion should increase your chances of coming up with an idea people will get excited about.
With a wider product selection and the ability to compare prices, it’s easy to see why online sales are predicted to rise 17 to 22 percent this holiday season. Take advantage of everything online shopping has to offer by swapping out a trip to the mall for your smartphone – and save yourself time and gas in the process.
User-friendly apps give you the option of browsing through a retailer’s inventory in just minutes rather than spending hours fighting crowds. If you want a taste of the in-store shopping experience, you still have the option of using your phone to look up prices online. Just ask an employee whether they match online prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
This year, my 7-year old informed me she wants an angel for Christmas. Intrigued, I asked her what kind… “A baby one” was all I got; so she’ll have to settle for the Scruff-A-Luv she wanted on Black Friday!
The pressure to make children’s holiday wishes come true can often cause parents to get a little reckless with their finances. In fact, 25 percent of parents have taken money out of an emergency fund or retirement account, or even secured an extremely risky payday loan, to cover the cost of gifts.
While borrowing from a savings account is the lesser of two evils, try not to make a habit out of either option. Budgeting apps can help you plan ahead and ultimately avoid ending up in a similar situation. Use an app to get a grasp of your finances well before the holiday season comes to an end. Not only can budgeting apps offer insight into where your money is going, but some also include dedicated coaches and personalized financial plans that make handling the cost of the holidays a lot easier.
As the holidays creep closer, the temptation to spend will heat up. Resist pressure from retailers and family members by setting up a savings strategy. A number of tips and tricks – including skipping a gift exchange in favor of holiday gatherings or downloading a budgeting app to stay on track – can save you from overspending this holiday season.
About the Author
Wes Shelnutt is the director of financial training at Mvelopes by Finicity, a direct-to-consumer budgeting tool and financial wellness platform. Wes knows that money, and the way you manage it, is the great equalizer for people of all ages and lifestyles, and his passion for helping consumers better manage their finances drives him forward.