Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How-To Save Money Over the Holidays

The holidays are a time to slow down, take some well-deserved time off work, and spend quality time with loved ones … and that happened … in the 1950’s.

In 2011, we are so wired in that it’s hard to find time to even see people during the holidays. As the pace picks up we leave our shopping until the last minute and then go spend without thinking about our purchases or our rising credit card bill. Who has time to think! We’ll deal with that in January! But then January comes…fast.

To prevent the debts from reaching scary heights, we’ve prepared a few savvy tips for you to manage that bill without letting your sanity slide:

1. Budget: Decide for whom you’re going to buy and make a list of how much you will spend on their gift. Shopping with your list in hand makes it much easier to find what you’re looking for because you stop looking at everything and only look at the items that fit the bill.  Keep your eyes peeled and pre-scout if possible, because a pricey gift might be on sale somewhere else!

2. Prioritize: Is it really imperative to find the perfect gift for your hairdresser? Yes, she makes you look good, but is she as important as your mom or brother? Too often we leave the most important people to the end, thinking because we know them best and it will be easier to find them a gift. That’s never the case! Spend the time to find the right gift on budget for the people you love and if you must, get a standard gift card for the others.

3. Potluck it Out: With all the holiday parties you may find your gift budget is blown on going out before you’ve even started to shop! For parties with close friends suggest the venue should be someone’s house where everyone contributes one dish and personal drinks. If you desperately want to go out, try to pick a place with BYOW to keep your pennies in check.

4. Talk about money: During the holidays, everyone is facing the same troubles you are with budgets. TALK ABOUT IT! Set spending limits with your friends and family and ask that they be respected. Let the people close to you know you won’t be spending a ton this holiday season because you are saving for a trip, house, paying off bills-whatever.

If we are honest about our holiday finances then others around us will start to be too. Once people are honest, it’s amazing to see how similar our situations really are. That comfort and a few savvy shopping tips later and January starts to look much more balanced. We can actually look forward to trips to the mailbox where we’ll be greeted by belated holiday wish cards instead of pesky bills.

Tiffany Mealia is the Founder and Chief Frugalista of She's So Savvy - helping hip + urban girls with champange tastes on a beer budget. Check out her site for more money-saving tips.

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