Give Yourself the Gift of Savings this Holiday Season
With the cutting of the turkey comes Black Friday ads, crowded shopping centers and the never-ending holiday to-do list. However, if you’re not careful, “the most wonderful time of year” can become the most expensive time of year due to overspending on gifts for family and friends. According to ABC News, the average American will spend $700 on Christmas gifts alone this December. While not everyone has this type of budget to spend, an Annual Holiday Debt Survey conducted by Magnify Money over the past two years found that the average holiday debt in 2015 was $986, while in 2016 it grew to $1,003.
There really is no better feeling than to see beautiful gifts under the Christmas tree, watching your loved ones opening their holiday presents or celebrating the season in Buddy the Elf fashion, but the credit card bills that follow can quickly bring you back to reality. While “some Friends are worth Melting for,” both Olaf and your friends would agree that none are worth damaging your credit score.
However, there is no reason why you can’t spread holiday cheer without paying for it throughout the New Year. There are many ways in which you can save money during the holiday season while making the transition into the New Year stress and debt-free.
Amazon Prime All the Way: Those who have an Amazon Prime account are blessed with free Prime two-day shipping year-round. For non-Amazon Prime elves, take advantage of an Amazon Prime 30-day free trial during the holiday season. For instance, if you register on November 19th (keep this in mind for next year), you will benefit from Prime’s perks during the peak shopping season, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Plus, you can take advantage of Prime’s free TV shows and movies during those glorious days off work. But don’t forget to set a reminder to cancel your free trial at the end of the 30-day period. Otherwise, you will be charged $99 for a yearlong subscription.
December 15th – Let There Be Free Shipping: If you are one of those individuals who avoids free trials due to the acceptance that you will forget to cancel and will be charged, complete all your online shopping on December 15th. Not only is it “Free Shipping Day,” but stores guarantee you will receive your purchase by December 25th. This is a wonderful way to save money and complete all of your last-minute shopping. Participating stores include Kohls, Target, JCPenney, Belk, Kate Spade, Barnes and Noble and Bass Pro Shop. You can see the full list of participating stores here.
Choose Your Stores Wisely: While Toys “R” Us, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s locations are beautiful this time of year, their price tags can be a direct reflection of their luxurious Christmas shopping environment. When completing your holiday shopping, start by creating a “Santa Clause List.” Establish an overall budget and list out each gift you plan to purchase. This will assist in avoiding impulsive purchases or overspending right off the bat. Next, do your research. November and December are the time for sales, coupons and discounts! Visit websites such as retailmenot.com, blackfriday.com, slickdeals.net or utilize Amazon’s app to find out about all the best deals. While it may only be a few dollars, these savings add up over time. The Krazy Coupon Lady discovered, through utilizing Amazon’s app, that Teddy Ruxpin is $99.99 on Target, $94.00 at Walmart and $93.99 on Amazon. By using the Amazon app, you could save $6 and have it shipped directly to your house.
Understandably, sometimes you find yourself standing in the aisle with the perfect present in front of you and while you may be able to get it cheaper somewhere else, you just want to cross it off your list. In that case, ask the store if they offer price matching. While not offered by all, you can price match at stores such as Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, Walmart, Lowes, Toys ‘’R” Us, Macy’s and Bed Bath and Beyond. You can find a full list of stores here.
On Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Savings: If you grew up in a large family, holidays may have resembled that of Kevin McCallister. A house filled with aunts, uncles and lots of presents. However, as each year passes and more babies are born, the family continues to grow and holidays continue to become more expensive. To avoid your extended family pushing your budget over the edge, have everyone draw a name out of a Santa Hat (or use DrawNames.com for travelling relatives). While there will be less presents under the tree on Christmas morning, you will only have to buy one gift as opposed to 15 or 20.
Gift Card Granny: We all have that relative who insists on giving us a gift card each holiday to Olive Garden. As much as we love their all-you-can-eat bread sticks, there are only so many Olive Garden gift cards one can have. Instead of letting them take up space in your wallet, sell them to Gift Card Granny for some extra cash. Likewise, if you are looking to purchase some gift card stocking stuffers, you can buy discounted gift cards through the same site. While the average discount is 12-15% off, they offer AMC and H&M gift cards at 25% off, Charming Charlies at 42% off or Michaels at 17%.
Follow these simple steps and you can maintain your Holiday Cheermeister Award while starting the New Year off fresh. Most of all, remember the reason behind the season! Enjoy spending time with your family and friends, spread happiness and cheer through your actions and don’t let “gift giving” and “budgeting” drag you down. As Buddy the Elf says, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear.”