For many people December is the hardest month for sticking to a budget. It can be very hard to have a happy holiday when you’re concerned about starting the new year off in debt. Worry not, my debt-free darlings: I’ve got you covered.
Here are nine holiday hacks that can help you save money while shopping for the perfect gift.
1. Make a List and Check it Twice
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone many stores will continue to have deals and specials leading up to Christmas. When things go on blowout sale pricing it becomes way easier to get caught up in shopping mania.
Remember: buying an item that you don’t need and can’t give away because it’s on sale for $50 instead of $150 isn’t saving $10- it’s spending $50!
2.Consider Setting Cash Limits
For some people taking out cash in advance is a great way to monitor spending and stick to a budget. The physical act of forking over a fist full of cash seems to be just a little bit more painful than quickly tapping your chip against a debit terminal. This sobering transaction may turn out to be a great way to safeguard yourself against overspending
3. Be Conscious of Credit Card Purchases
Beware of the interest that incurs on big credit card purchases. If you want to build your credit rating I strongly suggest only using your credit card to make a few small purchases and insuring that you have the money in your bank account to pay off your credit card debt promptly when the bill comes in.
Keep credit card receipts separate and make a note to yourself either on a calendar, as a phone reminder, as an email appointment or as some combination of the three, to ensure that you pay in a timely and budget friendly fashion.
4. Take the Time to Learn About Your Line of Credit
Let me be perfectly clear:
If you can pay for gifts upfront using debit or cash, or if you can pay off your credit card debt as soon as the bill comes in, use either of these options before turning to a line of credit for holiday shopping.
Using a line of credit to pay off your credit card or make holiday purchases can either be very strategic or exceptionally detrimental.
- Line of Credit Pros: lower interest rates than credit cards
- Line of Credit Cons: additional fees incurred may stack up, if you have poor impulse control having a line of credit and a credit card can incentivize you to let your debt spiral out of control
If you’re going to try this, educate yourself first. Go to the bank today and sit down with someone. Read up extensively online:
- Here’s an article on using a line of credit to pay off credit card debt
- Here’s an article on how to negotiate the best line of credit
- Check out this article on how to use a line of credit strategically
- If you’re still itching to pile up your debt, read this article to sober you up and remind you not to go spending crazy
The Bottom Line: I’ve known people who have used a line of credit to buy an extra month when they couldn’t pay off their credit card debt in full right away after Christmas. This sort of short term strategy to reduce interest over a finite period of time can help you save money as long as you’re conscious of additional fees associated with your specific line of credit.
Always exercise EXTREME caution while using credit.
5. Consider Online Shopping
Online shopping can make searching for deals and securing savings super easy. Make sure that the site is displaying your domestic currency and double check shipping and importation charges to avoid nasty last minute surprises.
Check out my article on online holiday shopping here!
6. Try Going Homemade for the Holidays
Oftentimes homemade gifts come with a sentimental touch that money simply can’t buy. If you’re a creative person, or if you have creative friends and family, a homemade holiday gift exchange can yield some amazingly spectacular results. As an added bonus, exchanging homemade gifts with friends and family is a great way to save money:
although homemade gifts can take a lot of time to make, the raw materials you use normally cost way less than the retail value of your product.
Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to discuss having a homemade holiday gift exchange. Many people do these kinds of exchanges and they are super fun, but naturally you don’t want to give your partner a macaroni picture frame (even a really great one) and have them give you a $150 watch… that would be, well, awkward. If you are a talented artisan your loved ones will likely be very happy to receive something you’ve really put your heart into.
Not convinced? Here’s a lovely true story to change your mind: to this day my mother has the drawing that my very talented father gave her for birthday when they first got together framed on their bedroom wall (yes, I know, they’re adorable). I can’t name or even point out every gift that he has given her over the many happy years of their marriage, but I know for a fact that this gift is special to her because of its staying power.
You want to be the person who gives a gift with this level of sentimental value.
Now that you’re on board…if you’re not a naturally artistic or crafty person, fear not! I have complied this delightful little list of easy homemade gift ideas for you.
7. Take Advantage of Seasonal Sales
December is a great month for crazy deals on various products including clothing, electronics and grocery items. Read flyers in print or online to stay on top of holiday sales.
Don’t forget about the amazing power of price matching advertised specials. This simple technique can help you save time, money and gas by streamlining your shopping strategy!
8. Save Big With Secret Santa (or With PC Alternative, ‘Secret Surprise Gift Giver’)
The holiday season can be even more financially straining for socialites.
Have more friends than fingers and a limited lump of cash in your wallet? Suggest that you and your crew draw names from a hat in order to cut your shopping list way down. Consider setting $10, $15 or $20 limit on spending in order to get rid of any awkward equivalencies.
Other alternative variations of this gift swap may include specifying that gifts must be second hand, DIY, local or made in the form of charitable donations to non-profits.
Don’t forget to make a note of food or scent allergies, or dietary restrictions in order to avoid dangerous gift exchanges!
9. Give The Gift of Halifax Local with CoastMart
CoastMart is basically an online posting board for gift cards and to assorted local business including restaurants, stores, and services. As you may have guessed from the name, CoastMart is run by The Coast, Halifax’s award-winning independent newspaper. By accessing this site you can scoop up 30%-50% off Halifax gift cards, making this website a mandatory go-to if you have a local business lover on your list!