When it comes to money and savings, we can agree that working smart, not hard is everyone’s preference. To rephrase, aren’t you tired of starting the new year with debt, to your name from the holiday season? Listed below are the top 10 best ways to work smart with your money and save this holiday season.

1. Create a Budget. Surviving the holiday season can become heavily strenuous on our pockets so to begin on our shop smart savings, we need to create a budget. What is a budget? A financial plan, which estimates your income and expenditures for a set period of time. Creating a budget is number 1 on our list because it is the foundation to saving money not only during the holiday season but also year round. This budget tool is a smart and effective method to reach your saving goals. Perhaps you can’t afford her engagement ring this year, but with year-round budgeting you will not only save but also begin to cut off debts, working towards saving for the wedding!

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2. Make a List. Make a list of everyone who has been nice this year and be sure to check it twice! Be sure to include everyone, no matter how small the gift. It is important to create an accurate list considering your entire budget. Ordering pizza? Include tips and delivery fees for the delivery boy into your list too! By including and considering your activities you can better organize and plan your spending to help you save on extra cash.   

3. Track your Spending. Following a budget and a list, the next step to successful savings is to simply track your spending. Whether you track through online banking or gift receipts, stay on top of your spending. Create a checklist and cross as you go, include the amount spent and recalculate your budget consistently. This will help to physically visualize your expenditures, write it down. Every penny saved counts towards holiday savings!

4. Pay in Cash. Here’s a great way to put a cap on holiday splurge, give yourself a cash limit. You have so much love you want to share this season, and limits are no fun, but if you want to save you have to consider that goal. Instead of uncontrollably swiping your credit card(s) this season and collecting debt for the new year, find other spending methods to help you save. The best method to stop yourself from going over your budget is to withdraw your budget from your account in cash. Once the cash is gone, the spending stops! Cash on hand is a great reality check on spending, know when to stop. Shop smart.

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5. “Secret Santa” Charity. Can’t afford a gift for each family member coming into town? Here is a great alternative, Secret Santa charity. This is a gift that gives back to the community, whether it be a church or toy drive, have members buy gifts for those who may not receive one. The best part is that you can choose to purchase however many gifts you want, 1 or 2 or for an entire family. Choosing to give gifts to anonymous beneficiaries allows you to fit your budget. This reduces the amount of stress and financial burden of exchanging gifts accounting every member in your family. Secret Santa charity teaches the importance of service giving during the holiday season. Other charitable activities include: toy drives, volunteer work, assembling care packages for shelters, and donating to charity.

6. Cheaper Holiday Traditions. Remember that the reason for the season is the quality time shared together. Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. So here is a list of special ways to spend time together this holiday season.

  • Christmas cards/Santa photos
  • Baking together/Passing out baked goods to your neighbors
  • Caroling
  • Christmas movie home marathon
  • Take a walk (or a drive), stroll through neighborhood Christmas lights

 

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7. Potluck! Cooking for the holidays can become very expensive whether your guest list consists of 10 or 30 people. Relieve stressful financial burdens by having a potluck party! Potlucks are a great way to save yourself time and money this holiday. Instead of preparing the entire feast yourself, invite your guests to bring their favorite holiday dishes! There will be an arrayed spread of deliciousness on your dining table, from favorite authentic dishes to delivered pizza! Consider the money you’ll be saving by embracing potluck.  Be inclusive of everyone this year and for a fun and festive holiday event.

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8. Handcraft Your Gifts! Get crafty and handmake your gifts. This is a super inexpensive but extremely sentimental gift to give. You’ve worked to invest thought and heart into your gift and handcrafted gifts are always valued and appreciated! There is a limitless amount of gifts you can create from jewelry to handy tools! Not crafty? Pick up and learn a new skill, such as knitting and crochet. There are many resources you can utilize, Books, Pinterest, Instagram, youtube, there are so many ways to create nice thoughtful gifts. 

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9. Online Deals: Price match, coupons, shipping deals, and E-cards. If you are an online shopper, it is best to browse around for the best deals. Black Friday, cyber Monday, and small business Saturday, are the best times to begin shopping for Christmas. These discounted deal days allow you to shop large! To save or fit your budget do some research, search for items and stores who price match. You can also look for coupons and online coupon codes which can help reduce your totals. Look for online shipment deals, many stores offer a ground transportation deal where you can receive your package by Christmas eve if you order by December 17th! Lastly, send E-cards this year, they are free or some of the fancy ones can be purchased for a couple bucks. E-cards are a fun experience as they can be customized to play music or videos and can help save you from mailing expenses.

10. Get a Head Start. Shop Early. Shop Year round. Now that you have budgeted and did not overdraft, get a head start with the holidays by shopping year round. Take advantage of coupons and the "After Christmas Sales" to get started on your gifts for next year. Budget yourself year round, shop and stock up to get a head start on saving. Shopping year round will save you time on last minute holiday shopping stresses and collected debt.

Start the new year right by saving money this holiday season.