This holiday season undoubtedly looks different from what we are used to given COVID-19. It’s possible your holiday plans may have taken a new shape, maybe even virtual, or canceled all together.
One thing that is not so different, the holiday season causes many of us to go on a gift-buying splurge. While our generous hearts may feel good about giving, our wallets, well, they may be hurting especially when working with a tighter budget this year.
If you’re looking to save some money this season, here are five suggestions on how to get you started.
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Tailor Your Holiday Meals
Do yourself a huge favor and plan your holiday spread! It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can find simple guides and recipes online to help get you started.
This year your family feast may be socially distanced or with just the family in your house. Create a tailored shopping list of exactly what ingredients you need to make each of your must-have holiday dishes.
Save extra by watching the ads and coupons from your local grocery stores and supermarkets as many holiday staples go on sale the weeks before the holidays.
Create Your Budget
We know, not the most exciting tip, but what many of us forget is that a budget is simply a way to prioritize your money. Plan your budget for this month to include what you feel comfortable spending on gifts, decorations, and holiday meals.
By just sitting down and reviewing what you have planned, you can see how much money you have leftover. It’ll make things easier when the inevitable last-minute costs come up or in case of a health emergency. Impulse spending without a budget can lead to stress and can get you into debt.
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Cut Corners and Costs
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to try and buy presents for everyone, especially if the gifts are expensive. There are ways, though, to still feel the holiday spirit with gift-giving like homemade items or sentimental gifts, perhaps a framed photo or homemade card.
Even if you aren’t exchanging gifts face-to-face, you should also find areas of your budget where you can cut corners. Use newspaper wrappings or plain brown construction paper as your wrapping paper and draw your own designs. Make the gifts personalized – no need to get fancy! If you are sending your gifts via the mail opt to decorate the shipping box instead of wrapping paper.
Since you are likely receiving less guests at your home this year, scale back on buying new or over the top decorations. The money saved on decorations can be used elsewhere in your holiday budget.
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This year, plan ahead with your family and loved ones on how you will all celebrate. Since getting everyone together isn’t likely, make sure you know where everyone will be to receive gifts.
Many of us will be doing our holiday shopping online. Consider shipping times when ordering presents to make sure they arrive on time. Order early to avoid paying higher costs on rushed shipping. When possible, use stores or services like Amazon Prime that offer free shipping. And before you checkout, be sure to search the internet for possible coupon or promo codes available to you.
If you plan to brave it at traditional brick and mortar retail stores, do so early to avoid long lines and the store being sold out of the item you want.
Bring Your Family Together Safely
With COVID-19, this year has been about adjusting our milestones and holidays to the new norm of being socially distanced. Rather than your typical large family gatherings, plan for a way to bring your family together safely.
Suggest a Secret Santa type gift exchange with your family and friends. This can be a fantastic way to get everyone together without spending a ton of money. Set a dollar amount limit for each gift so that no one breaks their budget. Organize a way to draw names, there are many online sites that can assist with drawing names and setting up a virtual gift exchange.
Use a video conferencing software, like Zoom, where everyone can get together to open and exchange their gifts. Plan other activities or games that can take place during the exchange.
No matter how near or far, everyone will feel safe together virtually and save on travel and gifts.