Save Money this Holiday Season
ONEONTA, AL— The holiday season brings about a spirit of joy, togetherness, generosity and love. We create memories with our families and pass down traditions to younger generations. We spend generously on the ones we love to see the joy on their faces when they open their gifts. At such a special time of the year, stressing about finances is the last thing anyone wants to do.
Dr. Ruth Brock, a certified educator in personal finance with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, shares ways to save money during the holidays:
- First, create a holiday shopping budget. Have a meeting about holiday expenses with a spouse, significant other or anyone with whom consumers expect to buy gifts this year. It may not be fun, but knowing in advance how much they can spend will alleviate a lot of stress.
- Make the holiday budget all-inclusive: gifts and holiday cards for everyone on the list, wrapping paper and stamps, decorations, food and drinks for parties and during shopping excursions, and whatever else requires a cash outlay during the holiday season. Remember to not budget for more money than you have or know you can save by the deadline.
- Consumers need to plan and make a list of the gifts they are wanting to buy. They should comparison shop on prices, and make sure that the items on the list are within the budget.
- Consumers should shop for only what is on that list and refuse the temptation to buy other products once in the store. While that may seem like common sense, it will serve holiday shoppers well to stick to it. Retailers are experts at getting consumers to open their wallets, especially for those last-minute impulse purchases before hitting the checkout line. Stores use many tactics to tempt consumers to buy more. Shoppers should not buy when they see a bargain but should stick to what is on the list.
- One suggestion is to keep a watchful eye on sales. It may seem obvious, but store circulars are a great source for holiday bargains. Cross-referencing sales and deals between store circulars is critical. The website ShopLocal offers price alert emails to help know where to shop.
- Shop online for savings where there are no crowds, deals found at a click, free shipping, and so on. However, it is not only about buying. The Internet allows consumers to comparison shop without having to visit the stores, which is a great way to save time and stretch the budget.
- There are countless sites that can help with finding the best deal, including Rakuten.com, Overstock.com, Shopzilla and DealNews. MyBargainBuddy.com maintains a list of sites with free shipping policies and coupon codes for more than 500 online stores. Shoppers might want to subscribe to e-newsletters at some favorite brands’ websites. That way, they can take advantage of coupons and discount offers.
- Get to know store policies. It pays to shop at stores that match competitors’ advertised prices and offer price adjustments. If the sale item is marked down within a certain timeframe, consumers might be able to get a better price.
Keep these tips in mind as you plan your budget for this holiday season. Planning ahead, sticking to the budget and putting effort into shopping for the best deals will pay off.
Featured image by Birgit Brandlhuber/shutterstock.com
This story was originally published in Extension Daily on November 26, 2015. The story was written for an assignment for my PRCM4020 Style and Design in Public Relations Messages course at Auburn University in fall 2015.