Frontwave Blog

6 Ways to Save on Holiday Spending

After a year full of twists and turns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are understandably looking forward to the holiday season and all of the trappings that come with it. At the same time, many families are feeling the pinch of a difficult economic year and wondering how to balance the joy of the holidays with financial uncertainty. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, there’s a lot you can do to celebrate the season without breaking the bank.

1. Create a Holiday Spending Plan

Between Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday specials and “best of the season” discounts, it can be easy to overspend as you try to snap up the best deals before they disappear. If you’re like us, you may even end up with “extra” gifts come New Year’s Day. To avoid overspending on impulse buys, make a plan for holiday spending before you set foot in a store or put your fingers on the keyboard.

Make a realistic budget based on what you can comfortably afford this year. Be sure to factor in extra non-gift related expenses that can easily add up — things like holiday photos, decorations, food, and if your family gathering is cancelled, the cost of shipping gifts to loved ones. Even if you’ve spent more in the past, it’s OK to pull back. If you’re worried whether the people on your list will appreciate less expensive gifts, think back to what your loved ones gave you when their budgets were tighter. Chances are, it really was the thought — and not the dollar signs — that counted.

2. Make a List and Check it Twice

This goes hand in hand with tip #1. Once you have a budget, make a list of the people and/or events you want to buy for and divide your money accordingly. When deciding what to gift those on your list, refer back to your list to make sure you’re staying on track.

3. Trade Pricey for Priceless

A great gift doesn’t have to be expensive. Think outside the box and treat your loved ones to a thoughtful gift that brings joy without a big price tag. Maybe it’s a personalized photo album, a DIY project, homemade cookies or a hand-crafted ornament. It can even be the gift of your time, like setting aside an hour for a holiday video chat with a friend.

4. Consider Group Gifts and Gift Exchanges

Have a lot of family members to shop for? Consider pooling your resources with other loved ones to buy a single group gift for each person, rather than a bunch of smaller individual gifts. Another option for larger groups, like coworkers, friends and extended families, is to do an exchange where each person or family draws the name of another and shops just for them. Not only can this save you all money, it gives you more time to shop for or make a truly thoughtful and personalized gift.

5. Shop Early

Many retailers aren’t holding back on their holiday deals this year, so there’s little to be gained by waiting until the last minute to shop. In fact, you’re more likely to overspend on panic purchases and express shipping. Starting early and chipping away at your list over the next few weeks is a much better bet for your peace of mind — and your wallet. The same goes for holiday meal and baking supplies. Buying a few items at a time during your regular shopping trips can help spread the cost out and allow you to take advantage of multiple weekly sales.

6. Stack Your Savings

Look for ways to stack up your savings by adding coupons or promo codes, shopping at retailers where you earn rewards, or using credit cards or apps that earn you cash back. Pay close attention to shipping costs, too. Spending a few extra dollars to buy from a retailer with free shipping (and free returns!) may save you in the long run.