The end of the year, and all the celebratory holidays that come with it, can be a stressful time for any family—especially once you involve a budget. Between family gatherings, large meals, parties, holiday travel, and gift season, there’s a lot to consider.
If that sentence made you anxious, don’t worry: your budget doesn’t mean you automatically have to be stressed about this year’s holidays. Have you made a game plan yet? If you start forming your celebration strategies now, you can ensure that everything remains merry and bright, all season long.
- The Basics: Plan Ahead
Sure, it seems obvious. But for many people, when the going gets tough, the tough avoid all thought of anything stressful and go drown their swirling thoughts in a swirling glass of wine.
Not you, though. You’re tough, and you’re smart. Sit down and sort through your commitments for this year. Which parties will you be attending? Which parties will you be hosting? What teachers or postal workers will you be gifting to this year? What’s your allotted spending on family gifts?
Giving yourself solid numbers to work with will not only help you stick to a stress-free budget: it’ll also help you make the most of your money.
- Avoid Major Marketing Traps
Holiday season means sale season—but which sales are good, and which are marketing gimmicks? In today’s climate of easy spending and ad saturation, it can be difficult to discern a smart buy from a sales tactic.
This is where your budget comes in handy. When you plan your purchases in advance, you’ll be less likely to fall prey to flash-sale marketing or to make that impulse purchase. It doesn’t matter if something is 40 percent off for TWO HOURS ONLY. No matter how low the price tag is, if you weren’t going to purchase it before the sale, you won’t be saving any money.
- Shop Smarter, Not Harder
You’re probably already an expert about using promotional codes and coupons when you’re shopping online. But the holidays can confuse things: there are a lot of promo codes floating around, and many of them might only work for very limited times.
When it gets hard to keep track of your promo codes, shop smarter, not harder. Let the expert couponers at sites like Savings.com keep track of all those codes, all in one place. When you need them, you can use the search bar to find the exact coupon you need for any site, and you can rest assured you’re getting the best price.
- Don’t Be Afraid of Bulk Shopping
Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can have a bit of a frenzied quality to them this time of year, but if you’re on a budget, bulk stores can be your best friend. Hosting a large family gathering becomes a lot more simple when you can find premade cheese and charcuterie boards for a fraction of the price of the local gourmet food shops. You can also do some smart shopping and save money on basic home items, appliances, and even toys and gift baskets. Sometimes, shopping bigger pays dividends.
- It’s the Thought That Counts
Starting to feel like the holidays are one big dollar sign? If your spending keeps stressing you out despite careful planning and considerations, remember that this time of year is not all about commercialism. The best family memories come from the heart, not the wallet, and sometimes the best gifts are all about the thought behind them and not how much they cost.
Don’t forget to keep a little spark of joy for the end of one year and the beginning of a new one: these next few months should be a time for celebration.