‘Tis the season for joy, heartfelt moments, outstanding shopping deals, and a robust plan to fund it all. Money problems should never be a reason to miss out on family experiences and gift-giving traditions. Gathering everything you need to pull off a memorable holiday can be a stressful money drain, but the following guide will provide the best tips for how to save money during the holidays.

Budget

For any large future purchase, the best decision you can make is to budget and save accordingly. Shopping for the holidays is no different. Ideally, you’ll want to plan your holiday shopping for a few months in advance. Planning early also gives you a headstart on finding deals, including cheap ticket prices if you plan on traveling.

Make a list and stick to your plan. Gather a count of how many people you’ll be buying for this year and set a maximum amount to spend on each of them. Once you have a total, do not exceed that amount while shopping.

Track your spending. Make sure that you stay within the budget you’ve set before starting holiday shopping. If you’ve spent a little less than the set budget, that’s an excellent opportunity to put the “difference” in the savings. 

Group gifts

There are several gift-giving traditions that are both fun and money-saving. Gift exchange parties offer a way to minimize the number of people you’re buying for and limit the amount you’re going to spend. Activities like Secret Santa and White Elephant parties are great ways to save money for everyone involved.

Don’t overdo it with gift exchanges, though. People confronted with multiple gift exchange parties may want to choose their battles wisely. Furthermore, don’t participate in gift exchanges that have high-cost ceilings.

Aside from gift exchanges, teaming up with other people to buy gifts is mutually beneficial. Maybe have your entire immediate family pool money together to get a single gift for each extended relative. 

Cashback

If you’re not leveraging cashback rewards while shopping, you are throwing away money! Between online apps and credit cards, the potential for earning money while you shop is has never been easier.

Nowadays, there are several smartphone apps and browser extensions that help you shave off a small percentage of money from your total. Companies like Rakuten are worry-free ways to capitalize on frugality. Rakuten offers both a smartphone app and a browser extension so that you can use it wherever you are.

Credit cards are another great tool for earning cashback, too. Most people with a fair credit score can apply for a credit card with cashback benefits. Just make sure to pay off your statement balance before the end of the billing cycle to avoid interest fees.

Cashback apps and credit cards can even be used in tandem to maximize earnings. Simply register your cashback app with the cashback credit card you intend to shop with and reap the benefits of both!

Buy pre-owned gifts

Don’t stress about buying the latest and greatest gift for people. Oftentimes there is little difference between an earlier model and its newest version. Utilize apps like Offerup, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist to find quality used items for cheap.

Since we now live in the digital age, you can bet that a large number of your gifts will be electronics. Luckily, many online and retail marketplaces offer refurbished electronics. This means that the item was returned or repaired in some way before being resold. Refurbished laptops, for instance, can save you hundreds versus buying the same model new.

Another way to save money during the holidays is to regift. Why put an unused item of yours to waste if you think there’s someone else who could want it? There’s no shame in giving someone a preowned gift.

Create your own gifts

Holidays aren’t about impressing. They are about thoughtfulness. Sometimes, the best gifts are those that were made with your own hands. Creative gifts often last much longer due to the sentimental value. Also, a gift can be an act of service. Providing people with a service, like doing yard work, cooking dinner, or babysitting could be a good idea.

Have a stress free holiday

Christmas and all the similar holidays surrounding it are supposed to be fun. Don’t stress yourself out over expensive gifts. Instead, think about how you can find the perfect gift and experiences in the most cost-effective way possible. We hope that these tips on how to save money during the holidays will help you to plan a stress-free holiday.