8 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

1. Start Now.

If you’re reading this blog, it’s safe to say you probably want to save some money this season and even if you don’t plan on reading any further, you‘ve already learned step one; Start Now.
It’s no secret that retailers, large and small, have the ability to inflate prices and throw on a 25% off sticker so that us consumers all feel like we’re saving more. The truth is, you’ll find the best savings BEFORE the season officially hits. While the best advice would be to start shopping in July, we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. The beginning of November is a great time to start.
Many places like to reward the smart shoppers with good deals too, and have begun promoting sales even weeks before Black Friday.

2. Budget?

Seems funny, but it may work! It’s easy to miscalculate when you know what you want. It’s even easier to miscalculate when you have no idea what to get. Making a budget right away with the names and priority of who to buy for will make it easier in the long run.

The Christmas List, available on Apple and Android, is GREAT for tracking your spend. The app allows you to create a list of family members and/or friends, already purchased items, a To-Do List, your remaining balance, overall budget, and price per item.

3. Amazon

Last year, according to Deal News, Amazon’s best deals began showing up just 5 days before Black Friday and they can expect the same trend to follow this year. Create updates for the items you’re watching. When the price drops, you’ll be the first to know!

Also, we can’t forget about Amazon’s new monthly Prime membership option for students; that’s no annual commitment and only $5.49 a month! All students enrolled in a two or four-year college should take advantage of Prime during the holiday season. Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t buy some gifts!

4. The Little Things. Make a list and check it twice! (See what we did there?)

Something you may not think of, but can save you a nice chunk of change later, wrapping paper! Wrapping paper, tape, tissue paper, and bags are commonly inflated during the holidays. Because Santa needs so much of it, the demand is higher, causing the prices to also increase. Crazy, huh!
It’s easy to get hung up on what to buy and forget about how you’ll wrap it. Next thing you know, you’re on your way to the first Christmas with your in-laws and have to stop at the pharmacy to grab a gift bag and tissue paper for like $15.

Do you know how much bags and tissue you can get for $15 right now?

  • Walmart: 100 black gift bags for $28.00. Yes, ONE HUNDRED.
  • Amazon: 60 colorful gift bags for $24.00 or 12 colorful 9” bags of your choice for $10.00. 

That’s only 83 cents per bag and while it seems like nothing now, it’ll sure add up. Now you can spend the remaining $5.00 on tissue paper, 100 Sheets of tissue paper for $5.79, to be exact.

Other things to consider buying now that’ll save you money AND time later:

  • Holiday cards
  • Ribbon
  • Name tags
  • Gift cards: Don’t worry about the whole, ‘it’s the thought that counts’ thing. Visa gift cards are the most useful gift you can give to a friend, sibling, or coworker. Places like Costco have previously sold two $50 gift cards for $80. That’s a great deal! You save $20, while your friend or family member gets to enjoy all $100 of it!
  • Non-perishables: Anything on your holiday menu that is non-perishable can be bought and checked off the list now. There is nothing more frustrating than the grocery store being out of Cream of Mushroom on the day before Christmas.
  • Snacks: Gift items such as cheeses, jerky, candy, trail mix, nuts, etc. make for great hors d'oeuvres and last-minute gifts.
  • Miscellaneous gifts: Speaking of last-minute gifts; try to make a list of all holiday parties and get-togethers you’ll be attending. When a potluck or Secret Santa is in the mix, it’s nice to already have something to contribute without having to worry about it. Champagne and Spirits are easy, yet classy and tasteful gifts. Gift sets are already popping up in retail and grocery store isles today.

5. Cash-Only Christmas

The cash-only concept (with the exception of online shopping, obviously) has been proven to be successful for many shoppers trying to save. If you set a budget, whether it’s for a day of shopping, in total, or for one person/event, you can withdrawal that amount; once it’s gone, it’s gone! There is some self-control involved with this hack, but you wouldn’t be reading still if you weren’t planning on using any self-control this holiday season!

6. Free Shipping Day

For last-minute gifts, Free Shipping Day will be taking place this year on December 15, 2017. Be sure that your merchant of choice is participating and you’ll get your last chance to save big before Christmas. Shipping & Handling is no joke!

7. Charitable Items:

Either account for this expense now, or find charities that accept other forms of donation such as Toys for Tots, volunteer work, or coat drives. Missouri Central Credit Union has Toys for Tots boxes in their lobby waiting for donations right now!

8. Travel:

Where are you headed for the holidays? If you’re going by plane, BUY TICKETS NOW. If you can help it, departing on Tuesday, December 19 instead of Friday, December 22 can save you up to $100. You can also save up to $60 on some flights if you leave Thanksgiving morning and can save up to $150 if you wait until November 29, the week after Thanksgiving.

Other than saving money on flights, travel can allow you to save on the entire season. One of the more non-traditional ways of celebrating the holidays is becoming more popular each year, as families are going on holiday, for the holidays.

Booking a trip for the family can be much more cost effective all around. Once you take flight, hotel, and all other travel expense into consideration, you’ll be surprised at how much you can save by ‘skipping Christmas’. Vacations are much easier to budget, as all costs are in one place and easier to plan out. If crab legs on the beach with a piña colada are all you get to open this holiday season, I’d say you’re the lucky one!

Click here for your printable 2017 Gift List from Missouri Central!

‘Tis the season to Thrive!