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Top 10: Holiday Savings Tips

The holidays are a time to show people how much we love and care for them through gifts and other pleasantries, or so we are told by the large corporations. Spending time with family and friends while enjoying a meal together can be a healthy family interaction but spending frivolously on them is unneeded.

I am not trying to boycott Christmas gifts for loved ones, but I view Christmas gift giving as a holiday ritual truly for children. Adults need to be adults and help forge healthy expectations for the holiday season.

Does buying someone a present show our level of affection for them? It does not fill a void or invoke magical feelings of joy (at least not for long). Everyone enjoys opening gifts; there are even YouTube “Unboxing” videos with large followings. People love unwrapping and unveiling something new. It’s exciting even for the frugalists among us… but at what cost? Poor spending decisions at Christmas and other holidays can quite literally enslave the unwitting consumer to the system we’re a part of.

Above all I believe moderation and a non-emotional thought process are key to getting the most of the holiday season.

At any rate, here are 10 Holiday Savings Tips for taking the holidays on!

1) Set a Budget

The most helpful tip I have come across for myself is setting and sticking to a budget. Knowing how much the holidays are hitting my bank account for allows me to prepare and build a clear financial holiday path.

In practice, this means figuring out ahead of time how much money you are allocating for holiday spending and, to make sure you are within target, actually setting a limit for each person you are buying for. This will allow you to come away from the season satisfied with your purchases and not just promising you’ll be more sensible next year.

2) Plan Early

Every year millions of us wait until the last week to purchase Christmas items of all kinds, buying at the worst possible time (and getting gouged). Search for great deals early, use online retailers such as Amazon (AMZN) for mega discounts year round. Don’t wait until the week of the 25th to get suckered into an overpriced “present market”. Take advantage of those 30%+ off sales and online coupons whenever and wherever they may be while remembering to know what you want. Getting 75% off something you absolutely do not need or want is not a deal – it’s a flat waste of money.

3) Be Open About Expectations

Engaging family and friends about a Christmas budget will help reinforce and ease your new financially savvy holiday tradition. For friends, I like the idea of just spending time together, going out for supper or something simple rather than any gifts. For family, I like to place a $15-$45 limit for gift giving. Time is worth more than money during the holidays or at least that’s how I see it.

4) Collect The Points

If you plan to buy items over 100 dollars make sure to use a credit card. Holiday purchases that must be made can help us build up quality points or cashback, depending on what type of credit card you have.

In saying this, I am not saying to just spend money to get points, but if you’re going to be spending the cash anyhow, be sensible about how you’re doing it. Holiday spending can add up to rewards as well.

5) Buy Your Umbrella While the Sun Shines and Sunglasses While It’s Raining

Like clockwork Christmas always falls on December 25th every year. And just like clockwork, massive sales begin after the 25th. So why not take full advantage of this chronological paradox when it comes to gifts for your immediate family?

If you are planning on buying the family living room a new flat-screen television but it only goes on sale after the 25th, simply write your kids / spouse an “I owe you” for the television and with your savings on the television buy them each a couple smaller gifts with the savings. Then when the televisions are on sale after the “big day”, go pick up what you need on discount. It is a great way it increase the gift payload while teaching your family about delayed gratification.

6) Secret Santa

I wrote earlier about a budget with family and friends. Applying the age old Secret Santa event allows you to lower said $15-$45 dollar limit for gift giving as well as lower the expectations and pressure associated with the holiday season. Simultaneously, it unites loved ones for a light-hearted get together. If you are caught up in a Secret Santa event at work or with non-immediate family, give to charities in the name of the person you are selected to buy for. We need to all remember that Christmas is not a materialistic time of year but rather a time to give and help make the world a better place.

7) Greet People Online

Christmas cards are a nice touch, but E-mail is free and can look just as good. Spend some time on making a custom Christmas E-mail template you can easily spread holiday cheer with. If you need help sprucing up your E-mail check out sites like Pixabay.com for free pictures and with Google (GOOG) just search “Christmas card sayings” for free festive holiday quotes and niceties.

8) Cookie exchange, what?

Yes, it might be a bit of work to produce 12 batches or more of cookies (especially if you are not a confident baker) for a holiday season cookie exchange but the experience pays dividends as you wind up with a diverse sampling without the need to buy ingredients for twelve different makes of cookies.

9) Gift Cards

Giving by means of gift cards can save you time and money but it is important to know just what it is you are buying. Check out a few things you might want to know in Canada and America.

10) Social Media

Consider adding Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) (@Walmart) or any retailers you are interested in purchasing from. They will often tweet their latest and greatest deals as well as other valuable holiday season savings tips. Knowledge is power!

These are just a few simple ways to help you save money and your holiday season run smoothly.


What good tips do you have for holiday frugalists?

Full Disclosure: Long WMT

Pictures courtesy of pixabay.com

8 thoughts on “Top 10: Holiday Savings Tips

  1. Great list GRB, there are many helpful tips in the article. You bring up a good point baout buying the gifts early. There was a study done by a news organization this year that retailers have actually offered the great Black Friday and holiday discount prices several times throughout the year. However, people ignore the deal because they are waiting to buy the good on Black Friday due to the possibility of a better deal. However, come Black Friday, the deals are the same (or worse) and we buy the product because we have labelled this one date asthe cheapest shopping date of the year. So going forward, if we plan ahead and shop throughout the year instead of during the last two months, we couuld probably save on the same gifts we were going to buy anyways.

    My family has something similar to Secret Santa. Since we are all older now and aren’t as caught up in getting a million gifts, we each are secretly assigned one person to buy a gift for and on person to buy a gift card for, with a maximum limit of $25 for each. In total, we each spend $50 on quality gifts for each other instead of spending hundreds on cheaper gifts for the entire group.

    Again, great article. I am looking to reading more articles!

    Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats

    1. Good to see you here, Bert.

      Your point is exactly right regarding Black Friday “deals”. It’s amazing that the retail system is able to literally use the same trick every year to boost their sales at that time. The vast majority of people unquestioningly buy in to what they are marketed to believe, which is that Black Friday is when they are “supposed” to do their holiday shopping. Imagine how different the world might be if people started questioning these “givens”.

      Take care!
      – Ryan

  2. Allan says:

    Hi guys,

    I remember that I used to spend without counting back in the days to please my loved one and could end up with a january credit card bill of over a 1000$ just because of Christmas…

    Now I’m more frugal. We usually rent a chalet instead of buying gifts and spend time together doing some winter sports and playing games instead. Anyways my credit card is jammed in an ice block in my refrigerator! Ahahah You have to do what you have to do to control the devil inside of you!


    1. Allan,

      I’ve read that tactic before (the ice block) but never actually met someone who did it! First for everything, I suppose. Like you said, whatever it takes!

      Renting a chalet and spending time together definitely sounds like a more fruitful way to do things. There are some beautiful chalets in the Laurentians that aren’t too far from society yet feel entirely removed altogether. Perfect for regaining peace of mind.

      – Rick

  3. DivHut says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I always find it interesting how every year it’s reported that people are stressed out the most, suicides are higher etc. during this time of the year. I find it ironic that pressure and stress is equated at a time of holidays, being with family or friends and often times away from work. On paper this sounds like the easiest and best time of the year. I think our consumer culture is what’s causing this stress.

    1. You make a good point, DH.

      I would agree that holiday stress is largely centered around the consumer-driven aspect. People take on credit card debt that makes them a slave to their workplace just to have a “good Christmas”, as if being with loved ones wasn’t enough. We are often our own worst enemies.

      – Rick

  4. Andrew Cole says:

    Great article again GRB. The holidays are filled with pressure, especially when comes to purchasing the right gift for anyone on your list. These steps can ease that pressure greatly.

    1. Good to see you back, Andrew.

      Rick has a child on the way and so, not surprisingly, being economical during the holidays has been on his mind. He is an astute shopper and we were glad to post this timely article for our readers.

      Take care,
      – Ryan

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