On average, each of us spent more than $800 on gifts, traveling and entertaining last year. And while it’s all in the name of spreading good cheer and creating special memories, it can be a significant financial obligation that could take several months to recoup.
This year might be a little different when it comes to traveling to see family and hosting large family dinners, but you still might find yourself running short on extra holiday expenses like gifts, shipping, and trying to make the holidays still feel extra special.
Make a Holiday Budget
One reason it’s easy to go overboard financially is that many of us don’t put a cap on what we spend.
We tend to focus on who we have to shop for and forget about extra costs such as cards, gift wrap, and shipping packages during peak season. Instead, decide how much you have to spend – without putting your everyday budget into danger. If you really want to think ahead, make holiday spending part of your year-round budget, building in a savings plan for annual holiday expenses.
Don’t have a budget yet? Get started with a free budget template.
Shop at Stores With Cashback
RoarMoney customers get monthly cashback bonuses just for using their debit card with no sign up necessary.
There are also daily cashback offers within your MoneyLion App, forget waiting in line at a store and shop right from the MoneyLion app to earn points and cashback from stores and subscriptions you already shop at.
You can also get cashback on any purchase over $10 or more with Shake N’ Bank! Simply shake your phone after purchase and get a reward up to $120 deposited into your MoneyLion Auto Invest Account.
Use 0% APR Cash Advances
Using a credit card can get out of control during the holidays, simply swipe and your gifts are paid for – but at what cost? The average credit card APR hovers around 16.05% APR or higher. This means that your gifts could cost you way more in the long run than you originally paid for.
Save on Holiday Food and Drink
The best way to save is to have a plan. Decide which items you will be making before your Holiday grocery shop.
Holiday mailers have been making their way into your mailbox like crazy so be sure to check out which stores are offering the best deals. Also keep in mind that you are likely not hosting 15+ for dinner this year. While we all love to overcook during the holidays, be mindful of your guest count, fridge space, and how to make the most of your leftovers.
Compare Pricing With Your Smartphone
Yeah, sales are great – if they’re on products already on your gifting list.
Download one of many smartphone apps (like Amazon’s Price Check) that lets you comparison-shop a certain item among other online retailers. If you do find a lower price, many major retail stores will match that price on the spot.
Free Events & Online Meet Ups
It’s not just a money-saving exercise to think about giving presents that can’t be stuffed into a box. Organize a holiday party via video chat complete with games, music, food and drinks.
You can also invite friends to explore holiday lights in your area. Each family can drive in separate vehicles and give a safe – socially distanced hello while enjoying the lights.
You can find extra festive homes in your area on Christmas Light Finder.
Say Yes to Secret Santa or White Elephant
Gift exchanges are common among co-workers, and there’s no reason you can’t organize the same process among a group of friends or an exceptionally large family. Everyone can focus on a meaningful gift for one person and avoid the stress – and the expense – of shopping for everyone. This year you can still play virtual versions of these holiday favorites.
For Secret Santa, you can use Elfster’s secret Santa Name generator to virtually draw names for gifts. The site even has a gift list feature where participants can upload items they would love. Chances are, the rest of the group will also be relieved to buy just one present instead of 10.
Another option is a White Elephant gift exchange. While this game is noamlly played in person – a fun online version is now available! For a White Elephant gift exchange you’ll need a few people to participate and pick a gift on The White Elephant Online platform. On the day of the party, everyone can logon and pass or pick their gifts just like you would in the in-person classic game. Once everyone has their final gift, the gifts will be shipped to the winner of that gift!
The bonus? Secret Santa and White Elephants often introduce an element of novelty and surprise that can be especially memorable for the entire family.
Want more information on White Elephant vs Secret Santa? Click here.
Regifting – It’s OK!
The stigma of passing through gifts you’ve received to somebody else is gone. In fact, a recent Consumer Reports survey found that 1 in 5 adults re-gift presents.
Only regift brand-new items and wrap the present yourself, including a personal card so it still feels meaningful to the recipient. And don’t press your luck – it’s probably best to make sure the giver and receiver won’t cross paths (that means avoiding re-gifting within the same family!).
Save Those Receipts
Despite your best intentions, not all gifts work out. Ask retailers for gift receipts that you can include with your gifts so they can be returned or exchanged more easily. Having a receipt also helps speed up refunds and returns, as well as helping to validate warranties.
This year, online deals have been bigger and better than ever to keep everyone safe at home and not racing to the stores.
Make a list a price compare between sites to find the best deal. Don’t forget to include the costs of shipping – you might think you have a great deal but shipping is high or the gift won’t arrive in time for the holidays.
Keeping a Budget While Still Enjoying the Holidays
The holidays come and go quickly – don’t let that statement ring true of your budget though! Use these suggestions to keep yourself on track and start the new year with your financial goals in sight!
Download the MoneyLion App to see where we can help you save and strive for financial freedom. The app is free and you can link an external account or sign up for banking solutions like RoarMoney, cash Adavances from Instacash, Credit Builder Loans, and fully managed Auto Investing.