January may be the month for making resolutions, but December is the hands down winner for breaking them. Whether it’s spending too much money, eating too much — or some other indulgence — you’ll probably find that late November to December is a difficult time for keeping those promises you’ve made to yourself and others.
Because we know how difficult it is to stay on track financially during the holiday season, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you keep at least one promise this year — to keep a little something extra in your wallet for yourself.
- Shop really early (or just before the holiday): Try doing your gift buying either really early in the season (like August or September) or wait until just before Christmas. If you purchase gifts early, you’re more likely to score that “I love it…thank you, thank you, thank you” toy or device that everyone wants (and that’s likely to sell out by Thanksgiving). Shop a week or two before Christmas, many items, especially clothing, will have been marked all the way down. You may find that if you try to shop right after Black Friday through the first week of December, pricing has gone back up — especially on devices. If holiday sales are slow, they’ll down again around the last week or two before the holiday.
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Are Black Friday and Cyber Monday worth it? Sure, laptops and phones are heavily marked down in the stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving and online the Monday after (Cyber Monday). But unless you get up at the crack of dawn, many of the hottest items will be sold out by the time you get to the parking lot if you’re shopping in the brick and mortar stores. You may have more luck with Cyber Monday, since they’re online sales. But again, the hottest items may sell out or you find check out slow on popular websites. Don’t roget to check pricing on a few different websites to get the best price.
- Save on holiday cards: Like to send out holiday cards? Try e-cards or buy smaller sized holiday cards. A box of note-sized cards will usually cost less than the glitzier, oversized cards. Also, since they weigh less you’ll pay less on postage.Remember, USPS also charges extra for oversized (larger than average) cards.
- Avoid Costly BOGO Offers: Often, department stores have special holiday promotions where you can get a “free gift with purchase.” Beware. To get that “free” gift, you’re usually required to buy larger sizes or quantities of products than you normally would purchase. I ask you, is it really worth it to buy $100 worth of cosmetics to get a makeup case you can buy yourself for 5 – 10 bucks?
- Speaking of dollar stores… They’re usually stuffed to the chimney top with gift wrap, ribbons, bows, and holiday cards. You can even get cute little seasonal items to add seasonal cheer to your home or office like decorative wreaths, candles, lights, pine cones and other Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holiday decorations.Why waste a lot of money on decorations you only use for one month out of the year?
- Make returning your gift as easy as receiving it. Always get gift receipts, if they’re available. Nobody likes to think that the special gifts they buy for family, friends, or co-workers will be returned, but it happens. So give them the gift of easily being able to return your gift, so you can ensure your hard earned money isn’t wasted.
- Free gift wrap anyone? Do take advantage of stores and malls that offer free gift wrap. When you consider how much ribbons, bows, and wrap costs per foot, you may find that sometimes gift wrap is more expensive than the gift. Try to shop during the week or early on weekends so you can avoid those atrocious gift wrap lines.
- Last of all, it should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway). Don’t buy more than you can afford. Your holidays won’t be very jolly if you overload your debit or credit card with debt you won’t be able to pay off later.Hopefully, these few tips will help you you slow down your holiday spending while keeping your holiday cheer.Have a happy (and thrifty) holiday season. See you next year! by Merrie Triplett