The holidays are upon us. And while it may be the most wonderful time of the year, it’s an expensive time of year.
Last year, Americans planned to spend $765 on Christmas alone according to a survey from CNBC, which was up 12 percent from 2013. This year likely will be similar, and that’s not even taking Thanksgiving or New Year’s into account.
When we think of the holidays, saving money doesn’t always come to mind. Following these tips, however, can help stretch your dollar a little more:
- Prepare a budget – Who among us hasn’t purchased a few extra things here and there in the heat of the holiday moment? That adds up. Bankrate has a convenient holiday spending (and saving) calculator to help plan your purchases.
- The “Countdown Fund” – Have you ever heard of the Countdown Fund? After you plan your holiday expenses, take the total and divide by the number of weeks in an effort to set aside that much money to help pay for the holidays. U.S. News explains it here, and also encourages giving some gifts that don’t cost money, like giving a lucky couple a much needed date night by offering to babysit the kids for free.
- Potluck Parties – Even though Thanksgiving and Christmas will be at your house this year, encourage your family and guests to lend a hand. Everything Finance suggests everyone bringing a dish, whether you serve traditional meals or not. As for decorations, why not leave it to the kids? Not only will it be cheaper, but it also will encourage them to be creative. After all, it’s not like they’re going to cook or do the dishes…
- Free for all – Among the 10 tips Forbes offers for saving for the holidays is planning activities that are free. It sounds simple, but it’s a good reminder that going to a parade or driving around the neighborhood – with hot chocolate in tow – can provide holiday cheer without breaking the bank.