Creative Ways to Save During Holidays / Rocket Insurance.US

Creative Ways to Save During Holidays

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Tip #1: Create a Giving Plan

Before Thanksgiving, begin thinking about every person who you’d like to give a gift, such as family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, the mailman, the doorman, and so on. Create a giving plan by estimating a gift amount for each person, even if you have no idea what to give him or her yet.

Add up your total estimated gift amount and see if it works for your budget. Also, don’t forget to add expenses like wrapping paper, cards, and postage. If the total is more than you can afford or want to pay, you have 2 options:

  • Reduce the estimated gift amounts for some or all of the people on your giving plan
  • Cut people from your giving plan

To reduce costs, you could buy less expensive items, or make an economical batch of something homemade and from the heart, such as cookies or tree ornaments. It’s also nice to have extras of homemade gifts on hand so you can reciprocate when someone gives you a gift that you didn’t expect to receive.

Tip #2: Shop Strategically

It’s important to know the maximum amount you can spend on each person before you start shopping. That’s because there are a lot of distractions and temptations out there.

Shopping online saves time and makes it easy to quickly compare prices to find the best deals. Staying home also cuts extra expenses that usually come up when you go out, such as gas, eating out, and “self-gifting.”

Tip #3: Remember Your Values

The holidays are the perfect time to set or remember your big-picture financial goals and values.

A great way to think about values is to imagine your life in 5, 10, and 20 years from now. What do you need to accomplish between now and then to feel successful? Maybe you want to be retired in 20 years, pay for a child’s education in the next 10 years, or be free of credit card debt within 5 years.

Write down your goals and keep them close to you during the holidays to avoid making poor spending choices. You might also tape them to your bathroom mirror so you see them every morning.

Tip #4: Maintain Savings

Being in the holiday season is never an excuse to stop saving money; in fact, it’s critical that you always stay on track to achieve your financial goals.

The end of the year is the perfect time to adjust your IRA or 401(k) contributions to make sure you put in as much as you can, up to the allowable annual limits. If you get a year-end bonus, you might elect to save a larger amount of it for retirement and bump up your total contributions for the year. Also consider increasing your savings rate for the New Year. For instance, if you’re currently saving 3%, make a commitment to save 4% next year.

Finally, you may want to get ready for the next holiday season by setting up a separate bank account. You or your employer can set aside a percentage or a flat amount from each paycheck into that account, so you can spend it on gifts next year.

Tip #5: Practice Gratitude

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. One of my ancestors sailed to America on the Mayflower, and was one of the 53 Pilgrims that participated in the first Thanksgiving feast. Every year I remember those adventurous people who risked so much to have a better life.

We do a pretty good job of being grateful around Thanksgiving, but we need to keep an attitude of gratitude all year long. Studies about gratitude have shown that it gives us many mental and physical benefits, including:

  • increased happiness
  • stronger relationships
  • reduced anxiety
  • better sleep
  • lower blood pressure

Being grateful for what we have helps us focus on what’s really important, and in turn can nurture good financial habits. Consider starting each day with a moment of gratitude, or ending it with an entry in a gratitude journal.

One of the most fun and least expensive ways to celebrate the holidays is to build memories by spending time with loved-ones. Talk to your family and friends about what you want to get out of the holidays. Don’t be afraid to break tradition and try something new to save money–and give you a more peaceful holiday season.

For more info see Money Girl

 

About the Author Dan Keil