Managing Your Money

All you want for the holidays is to avoid debt? We’ve got you covered.

All you want for the holidays is to avoid debt? We’ve got you covered.

The holiday countdown is on…and consumers are making their lists and checking them twice. However, it’s important to remember that ‘tis the season for overspending if you’re not careful. In fact, a Lending Tree survey found one-third of consumers amassed holiday debt last year.

Fortunately, you can start 2023 with no lingering debt. Here are simple tips in seven key categories that will help keep your holidays—and the new year—merry and bright.

1. Shop the deal days.

If you’re looking for discounts, you’re not alone. A recent Google/Ipsos survey found 43% of shoppers are more attuned to deals and sales this year than last. Retailers have gotten the memo and are responding with massive discounts on a wide variety of categories, such as electronics, toys and appliances. While many large brands offered sales throughout the fall (and many sales are ongoing) , appealing deal days are still at hand. Pay special attention to the big four discount events when retailers will be pulling out all the stops:

  • Black Friday (Nov. 25, 2022)
  • Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26, 2022)
  • CyberMonday (Nov. 28, 2022)
  • Super Saturday (Dec. 17, 2022)

2. Be alert to your alerts.

You may tire of incessant brand marketing throughout the year, but now is the time to opt-in to loyalty programs and brand alerts wherever you can. Subscribe to brands’ emails, and SMS text messaging and follow them on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, to find out about special promotions, coupons and flash sales. Pay attention to whether the deal is in-person or online; often you might have more options and just as much potential to save sitting right in front of your keyboard.

3. Compare prices like a ninja.

Never buy anything without first searching the item and “price” to see if it’s on discount elsewhere. You might not even need to leave the store to take advantage of the savings as many places will price match.

While you’re at it, get in the habit of searching for “coupon code” before every purchase. Adding a browser extension like Honey or Coupon Cabin will do the work for you automatically.

And this is the ideal time to use those credit card reward points you’ve been saving up. To build them back up, make sure you put this year’s purchases on the reward card, too!

4. Avoid paying for shipping.

Shipping costs can provide an unwelcome bump to the total in your online shopping cart but there are ways to avoid it.

  • Many stores offer free shipping in exchange for signing up for a loyalty program.
  • Others provide it when you spend a certain amount, so bundle your purchases to meet the mark.
  • You can also buy gifts that don’t need to be shipped, like digital tickets or gift cards or a subscription for membership.
  • Make use of curbside pickup if you prefer to shop from the convenience of home, yet don’t want to incur shipping charges.
  • Finally, see if your preferred store is participating in National Free Shipping Day on Dec. 14.

5. Cut back on your list.

Sure, it’s great to remember everyone from your aunt to your coworker, but even small gifts add up fast so take a look at your list and see where you can pare back. After all, keeping your finances in line is more important than giving a coffee gift card to all your book club pals.  Instead of gifting each one of your relatives, organize a gift exchange so you’re only buying one present. (They’ll likely appreciate it, too.)

Or consider a gift of “time,” like helping a relative scan old photos or dropping off baked goods at a friend’s office.

Finally, don’t overlook the amount you spend on impulse buys for yourself—57% of shoppers say they like to treat themselves, too. Yes, you might feel you deserve it, but it can take a toll on your budget.

6. Forgo extras where no one will notice.

Gifts aren’t the only budget buster at the holidays. Before you buy anything, think about how important it is and whether you can find a substitution that will work just as well. For example,

  • Instead of printing and mailing holiday greetings, send an e-card.
  • Instead of purchasing fancy wrapping paper, wrap boxes in plain paper you can decorate or repurpose old gift baskets.
  • Instead of grabbing décor at the big box store, let your crafty side shine by constructing a glowing menorah or decking your halls with a DIY wreath.

7. Keep your hosting budget in check.

Having the gang over for a holiday feast? It’s a great way to avoid an expensive restaurant meal, but these days the grocery store is often no haven as inflation has sent food prices soaring.
This is a great year to start a new tradition with a potluck—or if you don’t want to leave your sides to chance, assign everyone a dish. Invite them to print out copies of their recipe and create a mini cookbook as a memento. You can even avoid a beverage bill by asking everyone to bring a bottle of a certain type of drink and hold a tasting contest.

For the dishes you are preparing, identify your recipes in advance and keep a close eye on the specials at nearby grocery stores. Purchasing freezer or shelf-stable ingredients when they’re on sale can save a bundle.

Saving money this holiday season doesn’t have to put a damper on your festivities. By setting financial boundaries in all areas, you can enjoy the season and start 2023 feeling confident you’re set to meet your money goals. Visit our Learning Center for more money-saving tips and tricks.