8 Money-Saving Hacks for the Holiday Season

By Sharita M. Humphrey, CFEI

It’s that time of year again – we’re officially in the holiday season. Many people (especially me!) are excited about the holidays because it means time with family, friends, and shopping. Although it’s an exciting time for many, others could be experiencing the “holiday blues,” which include increased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety related to this time of the year.

I’ve experienced them myself in the past. I remember wanting to fast forward so I could avoid yet another year of feeling financially overwhelmed. It was difficult wondering how I would give my children the gifts they asked for, save, and pay the monthly bills. But, after becoming more financially disciplined, I realized the holidays didn’t have to be so stressful. Saying no to unnecessary holiday debt and putting our financial future first didn’t mean I wasn’t a great parent, sister, or friend.

Learning a few money-saving hacks has allowed me to enjoy my favorite time of the year. I want you to have a meaningful and great holiday season with your loved ones without opening your bank statements in the new year and feeling financial regret.

So, here are some money-saving hacks to keep in mind so you can enjoy the holidays worry-free!

1 - Write a budget and stick to it

Your budget is your financial blueprint and is the one thing that will never go out of style – unlike some of your holiday purchases. Commit to creating a budget and sticking to it. By sticking to your budget, it will reward you now and later. If you are worried that it will be difficult to stick to your budget, an accountability partner can help you stay on track.

The first way to build your financial safety net and confidence is to make saving a line item in your budget. You may ask yourself, “is consistent even achievable?” I would say that with determination, discipline, and diligence, you will be able to budget each month. Look at these bonus budget-keeping tips for you:

  • Make a separate line item for your holiday budgeted items. Be sure to put that money into a holiday account or in a bank account you use only for major purchases or planned expenses.
  • Track your spending and use cash as much as possible. When we use credit or debit cards it can be easy to lose track of how much we’re spending and can lead to impulse shopping.
  • Incorporate no-spend days or weekends. Put dates on the calendar where you commit to not making any unnecessary purchases. This helps put money back into your budget and keep you motivated to meet your financial goals. My family, for example, is having a no-spend Christmas this year because the money we’re saving we are using for a family project that will increase our financial portfolios.

2 - Find your financial app allies

Using financial apps like Flipp can help you plan your holiday purchasing because you’re able to see retailers’ store flyers right from your phone. Rakuten is one of my favorite apps because you save money off your purchases and also earn cash back. Groupon and LivingSocial are great money-saving apps if you’re shopping for specialty items, discounted travel options, or for deals on things to do in your local city. I even booked our honeymoon on LivingSocial.com before my husband and I got married.

3 - Shop flash sales on or after Christmas instead

Set your calendar reminder to shop advertised flash deals, or even better, shop the day after Christmas for deeper discounts. Thinking ahead and shopping with purpose go hand-in-hand. I shop with future birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and holidays in mind. This can help you eliminate certain expenses from your new year annual budget and cut down on impulse shopping.

4 - Shop at discount stores

Discount retail stores like Ross, Burlington’s, Nordstrom Rack and Marshall’s allow you to shop for brand name items and products at more affordable pricing. I love to shop at these retailers for shoes, winter clothes and household items for our family. Stores like Burlington’s offer a 30-day year-round layaway program so you can start shopping for the upcoming season while getting the holiday pricing and pay over time. You don’t have to break the bank to shop for brand name items.

5 - Save on electronic devices

We are truly in a digital age. Electronic devices are on many of our holiday gift lists. You don’t have to go into debt to purchase electronic devices. Costco and Sam’s Club offer great holiday electronic device sales for their members. Walmart and Walmart.com continue to have great electronic deals. I was able to save $500 last Christmas on my electronic purchases. By doing your research and looking for in-store offers you can save hundreds of dollars this holiday season.

6 - DIY instead

Because there are so many items to choose from both online and in-store, it can become overwhelming. Instead, choose to DIY a holiday gift for your loved ones. DIY holiday gifts provide a personal touch and can have so much more meaning. A handcrafted gift, Christmas card from your children or a family video that you create are memorable DIY gifts. DIY gifts can help you to bring out your creative side and save you money.

7 - Buy gift cards

Purchasing gift cards for your loved ones from their favorite retailers, restaurants or other specialty stores during the holiday season is a great way to avoid crowded stores, exchanges and returns, and save you money. I love Cheesecake Factory and they have a great deal until the end of the year. You can purchase a $50 Cheesecake Factory gift card and receive a $15 bonus gift card. Sam’s Club offers great in-store and online gift card deals and bundles too.

Important things to remember

While it is a joy to be able to give and receive this holiday season, know that you can do it without breaking the bank. If you’re experiencing holiday blues, talk about it and seek professional help if you need to. Your presence is the greatest gift that you can give to your loved ones. The gift of being present and creating memorable moments is what will make this holiday season extra special. I would love to hear some of your favorite money-saving hacks!

About the author

Sharita Humphrey is an award-winning finance expert and money mentor. Once broke and homeless, Sharita knows first-hand that financial freedom has a blueprint. As a former state government auditor and tax representative, Sharita left the security of a government job to pursue her dream of helping individuals change the financial trajectories of their lives and businesses.

As a certified financial educator, Sharita helps entrepreneurs learn the basics and intricacies of creating, managing, and growing their businesses. Sharita was named the 2020 National Financial Educator of the Year for her work within her local community and across the country. Sharita recently expanded her educational services internationally, collaborating with the U.S. Embassy in Namibia to educate entrepreneurs in Africa.

Sharita is a media maven, providing regular editorial contributions to entrepreneurial publications and organizations including the blog for America’s Small Business Development Centers. She has been featured in top-tier media including CNBC, iHeartMedia, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, and BBC World News.

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Written on December 1, 2021
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings. Comments? Questions? Send us a note at hello@self.inc.

Disclaimer: Self is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.

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