7 Easy Tricks For Not Going Broke Over The Holidays

This time of year can be tough on anyone’s wallet — there are gifts to buy, bottles of bubbly to bring to holiday parties, and, of course, those tempting sales that start on Black Friday and continue for the rest of the year. But all that cheer doesn’t have to run you into debt. We polled some of our favorite money bloggers for their tips for keeping our budgets on track during the holidays. The good news? Their suggestions are totally doable. All it takes is a little planning and, sometimes, a little creativity.

Save Up, Starting Early

"Create a sub-savings account titled 'holidays,' and at the start of every year, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to fund this account — either every two weeks (when your paycheck hits) or even just once a month. If you usually spend around $500 [per] year around the holidays, that's about $40 per month, or $20 per paycheck. Much more manageable than coming up with a huge chunk of change around the holidays — or, even worse, racking up unnecessary credit card debt."

Priya Malani, founder, Stash Wealth

Make A List, Check It Twice — And Stick To It

"When you head out to do your holiday shopping, arm yourself with a clear plan of attack: a list of who you want to buy for and how much you can spend on each gift. To hold yourself accountable to those numbers, consider using cash instead of credit cards. That way, you can go into it with only enough cash on hand to stick to your shopping budget. Also, this can be a tempting time to sign up for a store credit card offer. But beware: Those cards tend to have incredibly high interest rates."

Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO, LearnVest

Consider Cashing In Credit Card Points

"You could use the money as a statement credit to pay for gifts, or leverage some points into gift cards as presents, or just put the cash directly into your bank account. Do not go into debt for gift-giving! Only put presents on your credit card that you can afford to pay off when your bill is due."

Erin Lowry, Broke Millennial


Stock Up On Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers

"Whether it’s the neighbor who watered my plants while I was away, the babysitter who watched my son a few times throughout the year, or the cameramen who helped with a video shoot that I was a part of, it’s important for me to [share] a small token of my appreciation. I recommend stocking up on small gifts that you can have at the ready. I love giving out these cake bites from The Sweet Tooth Fairy, or a cute bottle of prosecco. Small gestures that don't cost me a lot...can go a long way in making someone feel extra-special during this time of year."

Farnoosh Torabi, So Money

DIY To Save Money

"Not everyone needs a carefully-selected cashmere scarf and an elaborate card about how happy you are to know them. Be ruthless about who goes on your DIY- and food-gift list, such as coworkers and less-close friends. You’ll save a lot of money baking a ton of cookies or whatever and putting them in nice little packages for most of your gifts."

Chelsea Fagan, The Financial Diet

Secondhand Can Be First-Rate

"There’s no shame in passing along perfectly decent items. Instead of hitting the mall, take your Christmas list to the thrift store, Craigslist, and the antique [store]. Seek out unique finds that are more personal, and far less expensive, than brand-new carbon copies of what everyone else is gifting."

Mrs. Frugalwoods, Frugalwoods

Set Yourself Up For The New Year

"Take the time to do a yearly housekeeping call to all of your major bill-generators, [including] your cable, phone, and internet companies, and see if there might be a better deal available. The worst thing they can say is 'no,' and you might be looking at a few dollars off per month just for raising the issue. The new year is also a great time to tackle any credit card debt. Don't be scared to call your credit card provider and see what changes to your interest might be made in the New Year. Companies want to keep their best customers, and many are cutting down interest costs for a portion of the year. If you're not happy with your card, don't be scared to shop around for one that works best for you."

Nicole Lapin, author of Rich Bitch


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