We all love the festivities of the holiday season — until the January bills arrive to ruin the fun. Last year, consumers expected to spend an average of more than $1,000 during the holidays. If you’re worried that you can’t get through this season without spending a fortune, think again!
Here are nine tips to help make the holidays more affordable, so you can enjoy holiday fun without the financial stress.
- Create a Full List of Holiday Expenses
Jot down every expense you’re facing, like family gifts, wrapping paper, cards, stamps, travel expenses, items for holiday gift exchanges, teacher presents, holiday-themed activities, or charitable donations. With a big-picture view of your expenses, it’s easier to find ways to trim costs.
- Budget & Track Spending
Whether you use pencil and paper or a free mobile app, set a holiday budget and keep a running total as you shop or plan purchases. Dover Federal’s 24/7 Mobile App makes it easy to monitor spending on the go.
- Think in Tiers
After you’ve created your shopping budget, divide it into three separate tiers:
- The first for family (with the highest price limit)
- The second for close friends (usually smaller-ticket items like gift cards or food)
- The third for neighbors and coworkers (holiday cards, food, homemade gifts, etc.).
- Use Credit Cards With Care
That $20 you put on your credit card for a gift can end up costing you more if you don’t pay back the balance the next month. Stick to your budget to avoid charging more than you can afford to pay back soon. If you do need to carry a balance for a short time, a low-APR credit card can help you save on interest and pay off your balance faster.
- Try DIY Holiday Gifts
If you’re crafty or want to get your kids involved, make handmade gifts. A fun project like baking cookies or making candy or fudge can involve the whole family. In addition to being more affordable, gifts like these are also more thoughtful (and tastier!).
- Shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales
Stores are announcing their Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019 specials well ahead of time. But some sales offer more hype than value. It pays to do your homework first – like searching online to find the best (legit) deals, comparing prices among traditional and online stores, and knowing how to spot sneaky retail tricks.
- Get Free Delivery
Online stores may offer ways to score free delivery, particularly if you’re willing to wait a few extra days for your packages. And the annual Free Shipping Day gives you the chance to enjoy free shipping with guaranteed delivery before Christmas Eve at more than 1,000 participating online retailers. Mark your calendars for Free Shipping Day 2019, which takes place December 14.
- Get Creative With Holiday Cards
Do you really need that $30 photo with Santa or expensive holiday cards? If you’re putting together your annual holiday card, go with a favorite photo you snapped earlier this year, and use an online service to design and print beautiful but low-cost DIY cards.
- Rethink Family Gift-Giving
When you’ve got a big family, expenses can add up fast! Depending on the size of your family (and how old the kids are), consider rotating gift recipients each year or doing a Secret Santa.
Or, try following the “Four Gift Philosophy.” With this smart, budget-friendly approach, families set a limit of four gifts per person, one gift in each category:
- Something they want: something from their wish list
- Something they need: sports equipment, household items, etc.
- Something to wear: socks, a warm winter coat, jewelry, etc.
- Something to read: a new book, magazine subscription, or Kindle gift card
Get a Head Start on Next Year
One of the best ways to de-stress your holiday season is to build a holiday fund well in advance.
Dover Federal's special Christmas Club account is an easy way to save little by little throughout the year, so you’ll have plenty of funds available in time for next year’s holiday shopping or winter vacation. Learn more about our Christmas Club savings account and open yours today!