How to Save Money during the Holidays

christmas 2012 (Photo credit: paparutzi)

I, for one, simply dread the holidays. I once looked forward to their arrival – I eagerly penned my Christmas list with delight, and I always wondered why my mom seemed so stressed out all season long.

Now I know.

I’ve become a parent, so I feel the newfound need to create an entire “experience” for my children… the same way my parents did for me. The decorations, the Christmas tree trimmed to the hilt, the goodies, and – my-oh-my – all those presents. These days, by Halloween, I’m already mourning the upcoming dent in my bank account that I know I won’t manage correct until mid-February.

Anyone else in my boat? This year, I’m implementing some serious cost-cutting measures to stop the financial hemorrhaging from the holidays. Believe it or not, it is possible to enjoy the festivities without breaking the bank.

Shop after the Holidays

This is a tip that comes straight from my very own mother. She lectured me about adopting this practice for years, but it took becoming a mom myself for the lesson in frugality to finally resonate with me. In the weeks following Christmas, you can score some major deals on things like wrapping paper and seasonal décor.

This year, try keeping mental tabs on everything you’ve used during the holidays and make a list once all the activity’s died down. Then,

hit the stores to take advantage of sales – many retailers sell seasonal items for up to 80% off just to clear the unsold inventory from their shelves! Pack everything away for next year and you’ll lighten both your wallet and your to-do list when the holidays roll around again.

Make a List

Yeah, it sounds simple and silly. However, sitting down and making a thorough list before the holidays really rev up will save you big money in the end. When we’re under stress or emotional pressure, we tend to spend more money than we would otherwise. Our need to please (especially when it comes to our kids) overrides the logical side of our brains and the result is a closet full of toys and gifts that we never intended to buy.

Instead, create a list outlining everyone you plan to buy for and exactly what you need to purchase. Then, add the items you’ll need for the season – amenities for any holiday parties you may be hosting, funds for trips to see family, etc. Once you’re done, you should have a realistic number on paper. Once you see it in writing, you’ll feel better about spending the money and you’ll be more apt to stick to the plan.

Set Aside the Funds

This is another tip that may best be implemented next year. After you’ve made your list and checked it twice, don’t throw it away. Instead, use it as an outline for the next year – you’ll know what you’re in for financially and you’ll have a cheat sheet to help you plan your gifts for everyone. Since you’ll have the amount you need to spend in your head from the prior year, you’ll have a full twelve months to set aside the funds without having to borrow your way through the season.