We all feel good about ourselves when we're saving money. But with the added spending temptations of Christmas and New Years, is it still possible to save? Here are some tips for saving money during the holidays.
The easiest way to save on gifts is to purchase them throughout the year when they are on sale. This also helps your budget by spreading out the pain of paying throughout the year. Keep a master list in your purse of everyone you buy for, so that it is with you whenever you're in a store. When you find that perfect gift for Aunt Ethel, write it on your list and cross off her name.
Another strategy is regifting - giving someone else an unwanted gift you received. Although some people gasp at regifting, if you're careful about it it's a wonderful idea: someone else will actually enjoy the gift you didn't want, you have one less gift to buy, and it's "green" (less consuming is good for the environment)! Be careful to not regift something to the person (or even the family) who gave it to you, and be sure to remove all original gift tags from the product.
2. Gift Wrap
All those holiday gifts need to be wrapped, but you don't need to spend a lot of money doing it. Giving gifts to kids? Wrap them in comic sections of the newspaper. Children's artwork can be a charming and unique wrap for smaller gifts.
Designate a "gift wrap station" somewhere in your house and store gift bags you have received there. They are easily reusable, as is "regular" wrapping paper if you remove it carefully and roll it onto cardboard tubes. Most wrapping paper can be ironed on a cool setting to regain its new look.
Be sure to save bows and ribbons as well for reuse, and don't forget bow alternatives to top gifts: a candle, a rubber ducky, a small toy ...
Don't buy gift tags; instead, let your children create some from construction paper or cut some from Christmas cards you received last year.
One way to save money is to eliminate sending holiday cards entirely. Or, if you enjoy the card-sending tradition, at least reduce your list by cutting people who you see regularly. You can save further by sending Christmas postcards rather than cards, thus saving postage costs.
Plan to purchase next year's holiday cards a week or two AFTER Christmas when you can get them drastically reduced; $1 per box is not uncommon.
Tickets to "The Nutcracker" and the Philharmonic Christmas Pops really add up ... this year, consider making it a "free entertainment" holiday. There are many, many free family activities available if you take a little time to find them. Check your local newspaper and local websites for free holiday programs in your community.
Who says you need to go out for entertainment, anyway? Plan a fun night at home with your family, baking Christmas cookies and watching television programs like "Rudolph" and "The Little Drummer Boy." What a wonderful memory for your kids!
Save where you can, but remember to focus on the meaning of the season. Enjoy each moment with your family!
Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana. She writes at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com and Associated Content.