Fast forward to January 2016. No more chestnuts roasting on an open fire. No more candy canes and mistletoe. It’s a new year and new beginnings. Yet, for many of us, there is a big 2015 reminder hanging around… the holiday bills.
If you’re worried about a financial holiday hangover, don’t be! You can still deck the halls and raise a glass of egg nog without breaking the bank and feeling the pain afterward.
Here are ten easy ways to keep your spending in check this holiday season so you’ll have a new year that’s merry and bright for you and your wallet.
Green is Not Always Evergreen
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it’s worth repeating. The best way to stick to a budget is to set a dollar limit on whatever you’re spending (gifts, dining) and don’t deviate from it. Pro tip? Use cash for purchases. Once the cash is gone, it’s gone.
Borrow the Bling
If you’re heading to a holiday party or New Year’s Eve bash and have nothing to wear, save the cash and raid a friend’s closet first. Borrowing jewelry, shoes or that to-die-for handbag can give any old outfit a fresh, new look. A clothing swap with friends is a free and fun way to create a new wardrobe (even if it’s just for one night!).
Give the Gift of Time or Talent
Whether you’re on a fixed income or don’t know what to get for the person that has everything, consider giving the gift of time. This could be babysitting, making someone a home cooked meal or helping with home repair. It’s free of cost for you and full of meaning for the other person.
Make Reservations at Home
Dining out with friends is wonderful, but it can quickly drain the budget when you consider things like tipping and transportation costs. Some of my fondest (and most affordable) memories with friends have been at home with a bottle of wine and delicious homemade dessert. No last call. No long lines. No reservations required.
Home is Where the Savings Are
There are countless ways to reduce energy usage at home and save money on your next bill. LED lights, natural sunlight and sealing leaks are a few easy ways to be green and bright while saving the green. LEDs are projected to save Americans $26 billion dollars a year all while cutting the nation’s lighting electricity use by nearly half.
Don’t Cheat on Your List
It’s easy to fa-la-la-la-la right into debt after the holidays because we start buying gifts for everyone. You get an unexpected gift from a co-worker only to find yourself buying them the obligatory gift in return. Stick to your shopping list. An easy way to save money (especially if you have a big family) is to have everyone draw a name for someone to buy for.
Stock Up and Save
Shop for next Christmas the day after Christmas. There are always great post-holiday deals on greeting cards, gift wrap, decorations and party supplies. Savor the savings now to avoid paying full price next year.
I know, I know. Who wants to be thinking about taxes in December? However, there is no better time than now to get organized for tax time. Don’t forget any last minute, tax deductible charitable donations too, many of which can use your help this holiday season.
Avoid the Open Tab
While grabbing a drink out with friends can be fun, it can be a budget buzzkill. Consider paying as you drink rather than keeping an open tab. It’ll keep you and your money honest on how much you’re really spending.
If you can’t resist the urge to shop during the holidays, at least find ways to shop smarter. Websites like eBates and Mr. Rebates are great ways to get cash back on purchases. Take advantage of loyalty rewards from your favorite brands like free shipping, deep discounts and buy one, get one free offers.
Regardless of what you’re celebrating this month, wishing you good cheer, warm hearts and full wallets this holiday season!