Love the holidays? Your bank account probably doesn’t. Instead of “swiping & hoping,” consider some of our team’s tips for smarter holiday spending.
Scott: “Both of my sons have autumn birthdays; it feels like we’re still digging out of toys, books, and balloons. Most days, the floor is covered in a veritable carpet of cars, blocks, and animals. This year, we decided to ask our extended family to focus on experiences with the boys rather than objects. We’re all stretched thin during the holiday season. Setting some time aside to create memories is priceless for the boys, for us, and for our family.”
Glen: “My wife and I have two college students. Sometimes we try to pick out their gifts ourselves; we love the element of surprise on Christmas morning. But a couple of months later, we’ll find the gifts left in their closets or in the pile for Goodwill. My suggestion? Sit down with your kids and ask them what they really need and want. Then you’re not wasting money on things they don’t want. Set some limits of what they can ask for – ie: one big ticket item and a few smaller things to accompany it.”
Sarah: “In my family, we grew up crafting and baking. My parents always told my sister and I, ‘Any gift from the heart is the best gift one can receive.’ For our neighbors we would bake endless amounts of festive cookies and put them together in a tin, or my dad would make some bread. So – blow the dust off that old family cookbook or visit your favorite food blog.
Artisanal/homemade-looking gifts are currently very popular. Visit Pinterest for some inspiration and try creating something yourself. Get together with a couple friends and have a crafting night! You’ll be able to share supplies and ideas. I usually have to do a couple of test runs before giving away the final gift.”
Scott: “I have a big extended family – lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. At a certain point, it all got to be too much. So – instead of EVERYONE buying gifts for EVERYONE, we created our own family-themed Secret Santa. Every year at Thanksgiving, we drew names from a hat – and we were responsible for that person’s gift. This led to a dynamic, memorable, and often hilarious gift opening ceremony. No two years were ever the same!”
Glen: “During the festive holiday giving season, many end up spending way more than they should. They’ll end up using credit cards and carrying a high-interest rate balance, but with some planning you can avoid this pitfall. Next year, try setting up a “holiday savings” account. Put aside a set amount every week or month to help fund next year’s gifts – and limit your spending to just that account. Not only will you cut down on credit card interest, but you may earn a little extra interest on your account.
Sarah: “Whether online or in-store, shoppers are bombarded during the holidays with shiny packaging, sales signs/fliers, and the best new gadgets. Try not to get caught up in the holiday hubbub; take a step back before making a big purchase. Do some research online: see who offers it at the lowest price, when it will go on sale, and if it is worth the money. Though you may spend some extra time researching, you’ll be saving money in the long run, which your bank account will love.”