It’s the season for joy and happiness. It’s also the time to shop, shop, shop. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans spend an average of $940 every year on seasonal expenses. It’s a large amount to spend in a few weeks. More significantly however, the spending is accompanied by frenzy and stress. In fact, the American Psychology Association ranks the pressure of gift giving as one of life’s top four stressors.
How can you save your money and your mind? Here are a few tips to consider:
Open a Holiday Club account and have your credit union direct deposit funds into this special savings account all year long. Saving $1,000 for example will mean a mere $39 from your pay check, over 26 pay periods. It’s the cost of a meal for two and you will never miss it.
Set a budget and stick to it.
Be sure to include all your holiday expenses including items like wrapping paper, postage for gifts, travel, charitable donations, etc. If you have too many gift recipients, make a “naughty or nice” list and cut down on the number of people to buy for. Be sure to record and track all your expenses with a simple notebook, a budgeting app like Mint or the tool offered by the credit union’s online banking.
Going to the mall? In-store insider tips.
If you are a mall shopper, be sure to sign up for store loyalty programs. Use scanning apps to compare prices and ask for price matching. Also, don’t forget to visit the Dollar Stores for items like paper, boxes and cards.
Shop online with all the right tools.
When shopping online, be sure to clear your cookies. Visiting the same site repeatedly might trigger higher prices for an item you are looking at. Don’t forget to use helpful apps and tools like Honey and Retail-me-Not, both of which can help you get great discounts.
Give creatively Choose experiences over things.
Plan an activity to include friends and loved ones. Few will complain, everyone will be relieved and will have fun with less stress. Don’t forget the gift of your time. Give “coupons” for babysitting, car washes and meal preparation. These will be really appreciated and cherished.
Lastly, remember the reason for the season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, keeping the holiday’s spiritual message in mind is a good antidote to commercialism. Happy holidays to everyone!