It is never too early to get started with your holiday shopping and planning. Taking care of everything well ahead of time can save you hundreds of dollars on gifts, decorations, travel plans, and everything else that comes with the holiday season. While it is a festive time, ignoring holiday savings can bust your budget for the entire year.
With Christmas and Chanukah only a few months away, plenty of discounts and savings ideas will start to emerge. For your holiday savings, be sure to take advantage of sales, discounts, coupons, and everything else at your disposal.
Companies know that you are going to be spending big during the holidays. To lure you in, many promote new and exciting items, but you don't always have to buy the cutting edge, full price items in the holiday season. Instead, consider buying a month, or a few months, early for your friends and family.
While you may miss out on holiday promotions, you will avoid the crowds and the markup on new products released to draw you into the store. Instead, you can take advantage of sales to get rid of last year's inventory and prior season goods. Those discounts can be big, and save you a fortune over current season goods released for the holidays.
Think About Coupons
In the United States, coupon usage is expected to increase by 150 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to a Harris Interactive Study. Customers saved a whopping $4.6 billion with the aid of coupons in 2011, according to a report by NCH Marketing Services, Inc., a Valassis company. Effectively, that means a saving of more than $500 million plus compared to that in 2010.
Shopping with coupons and getting a great deal is a year-round endeavor. While there are tons of door buster deals on days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can find coupons that give you significant holiday savings over buying in December.
Give Free or Inexpensive Gifts
We don't have to give people an XBox or gold jewelry as a holiday gift. Instead, consider lower cost gifts that are more thoughtful rather than expensive. Homemade gifts or experiences are often much more memorable and enjoyable than material stuff. For example, instead of buying my wife stuff for a recent gift, I am taking her to a cooking class that we can take together. The cost is less than many other options, and it will give us a great memory together.
I have also seen people give away homemade gifts like infused vodka, homemade pickles, or other fun presents from the kitchen. If you are crafty, knitted hats and scarves make great gifts. Just beware the ugly sweater!
Save Up To Avoid Debt
If you do decide to buy expensive gifts for your family and friends, save up ahead of time so you can really afford the gifts. Putting the presents on credit cards and not paying the balance in full can easily double the cost of the gifts over time. Instead, make sure you have the funds saved up ahead of time so you don't get stuck with expensive credit card interest payments. But be sure to use a card if you can to take advantage of all of the points and miles!
With about three months to go, you still have time to get started with holiday savings today so you don't have debt tomorrow.
Originally published December 10, 2013 – Updated September 29, 2014
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