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We all know how easy it is to go overboard during the holidays. From buying gifts and decorations to travel expenses and of course buying so much food (!), it doesn’t take much to make the holiday budget you swore you’d stick to go right out the window.
This year, though, things are going to be different. Why? Because you’re reading this post full of money saving tips and we’re going to show you how to Budget Like a Boss and have more money on your pocket after holidays.
Ready to say goodbye to holiday debt? Here we go!
Did You Know?
According to the National Retail Federation, in 2022, the average American spent almost $1,000 on gifts? Just gifts. Not food. Not travel. Just prezzies. Yikes!
5 Steps to Budgeting like a Boss:
Determine your budget. By this we mean decide what you’ll spend in total on gifts (including stocking stuffers) and what you’ll spend on wrapping paper and shipping costs, if necessary.
Let’s say your holiday spending budget is $600 with $75 set aside for postage because your brother had to go and move a million miles away. That leaves you $525 to spend on holiday gifts.
Write out your shopping list and note how much you’ll spend on each person. Seriously. Make a notation right next to the person’s name. Mom: $50. Fiancé: $100. Bestie: $50. That brother who moved: $10 (if you even spend that much!) You get the idea. Then total it up and make sure the number doesn’t exceed the holiday shopping budget you set.
Consider using a budgeting app. There are several great budgeting apps available that can help you manage your finances effectively. Why not try one now at the holidays? If it’s helpful, who knows how great your finances could be by next year? You might even be able to double your gift budget!
Here are a few popular options:
Mint is a popular budgeting app that offers a comprehensive overview of your financial health. It automatically categorizes transactions, tracks bills, and provides insights into your spending habits.
YNAB (You Need A Budget):
YNAB is a budgeting app focused on giving every dollar a job. It helps you allocate your income into different categories, so you can plan your spending and savings effectively. YNAB encourages users to be proactive with their money.
PocketGuard connects to your bank accounts and credit cards to track your spending and savings. It categorizes your transactions and shows you how much money you have available for everyday expenses.
Goodbudget uses the envelope budgeting method, where you allocate a specific amount of money to different spending categories (like the holidays!). It helps you track your expenses and stay within your budget limits.
Simple is an online bank that offers budgeting tools integrated into their banking app. It allows you to set goals, create different categories, and track your spending in real-time.
Wally is a simple and intuitive budgeting app that lets you track your income and expenses. It also allows you to take pictures of receipts and store them for future reference.
PocketSmith provides advanced budgeting and cash flow forecasting tools. It helps you plan for the future by showing how your financial decisions today can impact your finances down the line.
Albert combines budgeting, saving, and investing features in one app. It offers personalized recommendations based on your financial goals and spending habits. And it has a cool name.
Remember that the best budgeting app for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as ease of use, compatibility with your banking institutions, and the features that matter most to you when choosing a budgeting app. In addition, always make sure that the app you choose prioritizes security and protects your financial information.
Shop in your PJs.
Ok, you can wear regular clothes but the point is simply this: keep your gift list at the ready and shop online. Why? Because in-store shopping is the equivalent of being in candy land. Doesn’t your head just spin at the hundreds (thousands!) of beautifully displayed or prewrapped options dancing before you? Of course it does. And before you know it, your cart is filled to bursting because “it’s a great deal!” or “it’s a limited edition!” or “it’s so cute, I just have to have it!”
No. No. Much safer for your budget to skip the impulse buys and play Santa for your friends and extended family via your phone, laptop, or tablet. Still want the in-store experience? Play holiday music and sip hot cocoa while you shop. You’ll thank us.
Find great deals using these popular apps and websites and get cash back, too!
This is where the whole “have money in your pocket after the holidays” really comes into play. Several of these apps and sites reward you with cash back on purchases, and cash when you refer your friends to them. We’ve compiled a list of them here. Check them out!
Rakuten (formerly Ebates):
Rakuten offers cash back for purchases made through their links. You can earn cash back at thousands of retailers when you shop online, (so many retailers there's certain to be two or three your loved ones love), and they often have special promotions offering extra credit or cash back during the holiday season.
Honey is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout when you're shopping online. It also has a feature called Honey Gold, which allows you to earn even more back on eligible purchases.
RetailMeNot provides a wide range of coupons, promo codes, and cash back offers for various online retailers. They also have a mobile app that allows you to find deals and discounts while you're on the go.
Coupons.com provides printable coupons and digital coupons for a wide variety of products. You can print coupons from their website or use their mobile app to access discounts and deals.
Swagbucks allows you to earn points (called SB) by shopping online, taking surveys, watching videos, and more. You can redeem your SB for gift cards or PayPal cash. They also have a shopping section where you can find cash back deals at popular retailers.
Dosh is a cash back app that automatically gives you cash back when you make a purchase at participating stores and restaurants using a linked credit or debit card. The cash back is deposited directly into your Dosh wallet.
Ibotta offers cash back for both in-store (eek! Be careful!) and online purchases. You can earn cash back by uploading your receipts or linking your loyalty and credit cards up to the app. Plus: They often have cash back offers for groceries, holiday lights, and everyday items.
Paribus helps you get money back when prices drop on items you've already purchased. It scans your email receipts, monitors the prices of the products you've bought, and contacts the retailer on your behalf to refund the difference if there's a price drop.
Remember to read the terms and conditions of these apps and websites to understand how the cash back and discount offers work. Additionally, be cautious about providing personal information and only use reputable and secure apps and websites for your online transactions.
More Ways to Cut Costs at the Holidays
Forget traditional Christmas cards.
Why pay for cards and postage? Keep that extra cash in your pocket by sending family and friends e-cards. Many websites offer free e-cards, and some can be customized with your family's photos and some even play music. Plus, you can do it right from your phone!
Consider making gifts.
You don't always have to buy gifts. Homemade presents (or DIY Gifts) are great ways to save money while creating something memorable. These gifts might not work for each person on your list, but they're good options for some.
Consider photos for grandparents or baking cookies for your kids' teachers.
From cooking to craft-making, making your family their own gifts is considerate and affordable.
If you're not creative, offer your time for anything ranging from babysitting to helping with home repairs.
Try Secret Santa.
If you have a large family, try using a Secret Santa exchange for gifts this year. By only buying one gift, it will relieve some of the financial burden and can also create a fun, new tradition.
Try out group gifts.
By putting together several friends or family members and going in on one gift versus buying separately, you can all save money, and it allows you to give the recipient that one big gift they really want.
Holiday traditions and holidays should be memorable because they are fun, not because they're expensive. Look for local Christmas festivals and performances, drive around to see Christmas lights. Go sledding or stay in and watch holiday movies or play board games together.
All of these activities are free or relatively inexpensive and will save money during the holidays.
Holiday Savings Tips for Next Year
Buy wrapping paper, bows, etc., immediately after the holidays when they're on sale.
Don't wait until the last minute to shop. Keep your gift list on your phone and shop throughout the year. This spreads out your spending, prevents you from running up your credit card (or credit cards) all at once, and allows you to take advantage of sales and deals. It also gives you a lot less to do and stress over when the next holiday season approaches.
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