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Today our regular contributor Anum covers the best ways to save money on the upcoming holidays. What are your strategies for saving money this holiday season?
The holidays are coming, and with them comes the inevitable rush of over-spending and the crippling after-holiday credit card debt. Instead of putting yourself into (or further into) debt this holiday season, we’ve collected a few tips and tricks to help you save money — and hopefully reduce your stress level in the process.
Checking It Twice
Going to the grocery store without a list often results in you coming home with a lot of stuff you didn’t really need in the first place. Holiday shopping without a list can lead to the same outcome. Make a list of the people you’re going to shop for and what you’re going to buy for them. If you’re not sure what to buy for someone on your list, then set a specific budget for that gift — and don’t go over it.
Don’t Break the Bank
Setting up a budget is one of the easiest ways to save money during the holiday season. If you’re not familiar with writing a budget, then the Internet is your best friend. Online budgeting tools can help keep you from overspending, and many of them can be accessed both online and on your smart phone. That way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting what your budget was.
No Last Minute Shopping
Don’t leave your holiday shopping until the last minute. The frantic atmosphere can lead to you spend more for fear of not having everything ready in time. On top of that, it may be harder to get the gifts you had originally planned for, so you’ll be scrambling to find alternatives. While it is possible to get your gifts fast, even if you order online, it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.
Skip Black Friday
No matter how hard they try to control the craziness, Black Friday is a shopping nightmare in most retail stores. If you really need to cash in on the sales, skip the insanity on Black Friday and do some online shopping on Cyber Monday — the Monday following Black Friday. You can shop from the comfort of your home and still save some serious money on your holiday gifts.
Keep Your Eyes Open
Cyber Monday or Black Friday aren’t the only big sales you could be cashing in on. A number of retailers, both online and off, hold a variety of sales with great deals multiple times during the year. Keep your eyes open, and you may find some amazing prices on your planned gifts — even before you’ve officially started your holiday shopping.
Break Out Your DIY Skills
Selling stuff online or locally can be a great way to earn and save money for the holidays. If you’re handy with paint or wood stain, you can pick up old wooden furniture for very little at yard sales and thrift shops. Then, fix it up by painting or staining it, and sell it for a profit.
Online retailers like Etsy and eBay are great places to sell because they allow you to set up a virtual store front you can send to friends and family, or you can use it to advertise on social media.
Gift Your Talents
If you have a skill, like baking, knitting, crocheting or sewing, then use it! A handmade gift often means a lot more than something you could buy from the store. Plus, if you already have the necessary materials on hand, you can craft a heartfelt gift without ever opening your wallet. Spending a bit of time making something for someone is worth more than all the money you could ever spend on them.
Holiday shopping doesn’t have to break the bank, your credit rating or your heart. Start early, budget well and don’t panic. It really can be easy to save enough money to finance your perfect holiday season.