Decorations, parties, food, gifts, clothes – ‘tis the season to spend, spend, spend. With the economy still a little sluggish, I’m paring back this year and finding ways to save money. Here are a few tricks to keep some cash in your pocket this year:
1. Use what you already have. Don’t spend money on a new dress for the office party. Instead, go shopping in your own closet. The little black dress you wore last year is fine, especially if you update it by pairing it with a sequined scarf, a chunky necklace, or another trendy accessory.
2. Instead of a big holiday dinner with all the trimmings, why not throw a smaller holiday cocktail party? With all of the over-stuffing that takes place this time of year, your friends and relatives might appreciate a social evening where the focus isn’t on the food.
3. Make your gifts. If you purchase items for coworkers, neighbors, the mail person, your child’s bus driver, teacher, and babysitter, save money this year and give them something handmade and original.
4. Bargain hunt and coupon-clip. Take your time to do a little research online before you head out to the stores! Make a list of your gift recipients, what you’d like to give them, and how much you want to spend. Look online to see which stores have the best deals on the items you are looking for. A little preparation will go a long way. And if you have a list and a budget, you won’t be tempted to overspend.
5. Shop online! Many sites are offering not only great deals, but free shipping! And, you don’t have to fight the mall crowd.
6. Re-gift. It isn’t tacky – it’s practical! That vase Aunt Edna gave you for your birthday that you didn’t even take out of the package yet? Someone on your list would love it! Just be careful not to re-gift to the original gift-giver and you are good to go – and the cash can stay in your wallet!
7. Be creative. Your dad or husband may not love that new tie, but he may love a cute stocking filled with lottery tickets – and for a fraction of the price. And don’t overlook holiday ornaments – they make great gifts that will be used over and over again. One year, my mom gave me Snow Babies ornaments. They still have a very special place on my tree – along with special memories.
8. Don’t spend money on holiday decorations. Even if this is your first year in your new apartment and you don’t have anything, you can save money by using items from nature. Collect pine cones, spray-paint them white, and roll them in silver glitter. Hot-glue a string to the top and you’ll have gorgeous ornaments for your tree. String popcorn and cranberries – it’s an old-fashioned way to make your tree beautiful. Gather some oranges and some cloves. Stick the cloves into the orange and set them in a bowl on the table for fragrant holiday potpourri (add some cinnamon sticks to the mix, also).
9. If you are planning to travel over the holidays, be sure to find the best possible deal – shop around, just as you would with any other purchase. According to Clark Howard, shipping your gifts is a much better idea than trying to take them on the plane with you – it is less expensive and safer if you have delicate items that could be broken by baggage handlers.
10. Start shopping! The best deals are found at after-Christmas sales, so get out there and stock up for next year.