This is an expensive time of year. As we pass Black Friday and enter the holiday season, people are out there buying while credit card bills are soaring. This holiday, try some of these tips to save money on holiday spending like a finance professional.
Limit Your Gift List
It is easy to give gifts to everyone, but I suggest limiting your gift list to people who really deserve something. No co-workers, very few friends, and only close family make it onto my list.
I did have some friends that were perpetual gift givers, and I devised a plan to break myself out of their list. I suggested that rather than give gifts, we just went out for a holiday happy hour. I like happy hour anyway, and prefer my friend’s company to gifts. That also gets me out of the guilt of having to give something back.
My list is now down to just my parents, sister, girlfriend, roommate, and a little something for my girlfriend’s family. That’s it. With only five gifts on my list, I can save a lot of money.
Find Great Deals
My mom gave me an important lesson while growing up: never pay full price. While it might be stingy to hunt the sales racks for holiday gifts, you can easily find tons of specials and deals this time of year.
I suggest taking a look at Slick Deals, RetailMeNot, Brad’s Deals, and other coupon sites to find the best deals. If you have a specific gift in mind, make sure to check Amazon, Google Shopping, and give it a zap with Red Laser to make sure you have the best price.
Take Advantage of Free Shipping
I regularly shop online, and I never pay shipping. If you are smart and watch the deals, most stores will send you what you want at no additional charge.
I have an Amazon Prime membership, which is worth the cost to me. Not only do I get free streaming TV and movies on my Roku and free books for my Kindle, but I also get free two day shipping on every purchase. If you have an edu email address, you can get even better deals with Amazon Student.
Fancy Cards are a Waste of Money
I know it is fun to open a card that sings to you, but is that really worth $6? The average greeting card costs $2-$4. It is easy to find great cards on the low end of that average. Just take a few minutes when you are at the grocery store, drug store, or, the cheapest place, Walmart, and pick a fun card that doesn’t break the budget.
Sure, an extra $3 does not sound like much. But if you buy 3, 4, or 5 cards, that $3 can easily turn into $20 you didn’t need to spend.
Thoughtfulness Means More than Money
At the end of the day, most of us care more about the thought than the value of presents. Take the time to think through the best gift you can give someone. Here in Denver, a day trip to the mountains may be a lot more meaningful and less expensive than a new tech gadget.
So do something that most of us don’t anymore. Take time to do something meaningful for someone you care about. Who knows? It could even save you a few bucks.
How Do You Save on Presents?
What are your strategies to save on holiday gifts? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
This post was written in conjunction with Betterment, one of the services I use for my own investments. This month, they are hosting a Blogging for a Better Holiday month featuring top personal finance bloggers from around the web.
Image by JD Hancock / flickr