More than 174 million Americans have already spent an average of $335.47 each between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday this year.
What does your own holiday spending bill look like so far? Use these 3 simple ideas to help cut down on your expenses this time of year, and keep the rest of your holiday spending looking more nice than naughty.
1. Decide beforehand how much you’re going to spend on gifts.
Yes, I’m talking about the B-word: Budget. This time of year it’s especially important to exercise discipline with purchases. Have a firm plan about what you’re able to spend before you start tackling your seasonal shopping list, so you can avoid the “holiday hangover” when your January credit card bill arrives. Challenging yourself to stick to a budget can help get the creative gift-giving juices flowing, too. If you’re crafty, there are tons of ideas online for budget-friendly, thoughtful gifts. If you’re not crafty, check out your local dollar store (lately they’ve been really upping their game) or thrift store for low-cost, unique treasures that your giftees will appreciate.
2. Dine in.
When you’ve budgeted for picking up the tab for a celebratory family meal at your favorite restaurant, it can be a great gift that brings everyone together – literally. But if you haven’t financially prepared for a big night out with the whole extended crew, the final cost of the festivities can really sneak up on you. Say you venture out with a party of 15 family members. At even just $10 an entree, if you add in appetizers, desserts, cups of cocoa for the kids, eggnog (or something a little more “grown up” for the adults), and any other extras… Whew, that’s going to be a credit card statement to remember! But what if you planned a night in with the family instead? The whole point is just being together, right? Have a potluck or pizza night (try retailmenot.com for online coupons!). The warmth and comfort of home. Baking cookies. Holiday music in the background. You can still enjoy cups of cocoa and eggnog, but at a fraction of the cost. (Here are some ideas for setting up your own “hot cocoa bar”.)
3. Stay with relatives when you travel home for the holidays.
This practice is standard for some, but if this suggestion makes your face flush or your blood run cold, this may help you change your mind: the average hotel stay costs $127.69 per night (and that’s not even including taxes and fees). Let’s say you’re heading to the town where you grew up for 4 days and 3 nights. The 3 nights at a hotel are going to cost you…
- $127.69 x 3 = $383.07
Add in tax and hotel fees as well as the daily cost of gas to and from the hotel, and the thought of a few nights spent in your childhood bedroom (that now has a surprise treadmill-as-a-clothing-rack addition), might not be so terrible.
Saving doesn’t have to mean sacrificing holiday spirit! How many of these tips are you going to use?
National Retail Federation: “Consumers and Retailers Win Big Over Thanksgiving Holiday.” 11.28.2017
Family Feedbag: “Best ever chocolate chip cookies (gift-giving mix!)” 12.2012
HGTV: “Set Up a Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar.”
Statistica: “Monthly average daily rate of United States hotels from 2011 to 2017 (in U.S. dollars).” 2017