Monday, December 08, 2008

10 Tips to Save Money this Holiday Season

Holiday spending can snowball into quite an expense if you do not keep good track of your funds. However, there are plenty of ways to save extra cash and stay out of the red this season. To help the readers of my blog learn some seasonal frugality and still have a great holiday, I have compiled this list of 10 tips to save money this holiday season.

1. Re-Use Decor

It is okay to buy a few new decorations, but why re-buy everything when you can simply re-use last year’s decor? The great thing about decorating is you can always make something old look new by presenting it in a new way. You could use some of last year’s ornaments as a table centerpiece with some new holiday ribbon around it. Or, you could use garland and decorations to create a festive wreath. There are thousands of ideas on recycling holiday decor online, easily accessible by a quick Google search.

2. Know What to Buy

By now it is probably a good idea to have a gift list made so that you know exactly who to buy for. Try listing multiple gifts possibilities for each person, so you more to choose from and more flex on your budget. This will give you extra time to sniff out the best deals, and you will have the hardest part done: choosing what to get everyone!

3. Shop Online

Shopping online has it is ups and downs, but if done right it can save you lots of money. If you buy multiple items on one site, you can receive discounts or free shipping. Also, shopping online has the benefit of being able to compare prices with other stores (PriceGrabber.com) almost instantly, guaranteeing you the best price.

4. Clip Coupons

Do not be afraid to take advantage of every discount you can get. Taking the time to get a few newspapers and coupon magazines will pay off big time in the end. Some new businesses even put out coupons for 25% off your purchase and other amazing deals that are perfect for holiday shopping. You can even find coupons online to print, and discount codes for online purchases at many stores, on sites like FatWallet.com

5. Make Gifts

Buying something special for close friends and family is fine, but for coworkers and friends you hardly see, try making gifts. There are thousands of ideas online for gift "projects" you can do that are very affordable and easy to complete. Additionally, if you make the same gift for everyone you can buy the supplies at once for bulk savings.

6. Plan Travel

One of the biggest expenses for the holidays can end up being travel costs for flying out to see family or friends. If you are going to be flying or riding a train this holiday season, look into tickets ASAP, as they are not likely to get any cheaper from here on. Compare prices at multiple sites to make sure you're getting the best price, and if you are planning to stay at a hotel then you might want to consider a travel package, which is often much cheaper then purchasing everything separate.

7. Make Gift Wrap

Although it’s pretty, wrapping paper has gotten so expensive these days. To save some cash on this front, try making your own gift-wrap! One way is to buy a large roll of regular brown package paper and use holiday stencils or stamps to decorate it. Top it off with a ribbon and a hand-made gift tag, and you have a beautifully wrapped present for a fraction of the cost.

8. Frugal Food Shopping

Throwing a dinner party? Plan ahead and think about what you will be serving and how much. When throwing a holiday party for friends it is easy to get carried away with food and d├ęcor, so by making a concise list and budgeting well you can stay on track. Another great way to save on holiday parties is to make them a potluck, so that you do not have to purchase all the food yourself!

9. Save on Crafts

It is a great idea to make holiday crafts with your family, but there is no need to run to a craft store and buy expensive products. There are plenty of crafts you can do with things you already have, or sheets you can print offline. Kids will love making snowmen out of marshmallows, creating their own gingerbread house out of graham crackers, or just coloring in some free printable holiday coloring sheets.

10. Keep Track!

Create a holiday budget, citing expenses for your Christmas tree, gifts, food, decor, and any travel or other expenses. Then, while you are doing the actual shopping, write every expense down, including online purchases. This way you know you will not go overboard and can start the New Year without any post-holiday spending blues.

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