Holiday season 2020 was a tough year for retailers and other small business due to the pandemic. In 2021, Black Friday sales hit some all-time lows. With the higher prices for fuel, energy, food and just about everything imaginable, it seems like the 2021 holiday season will be challenging to most people.
Some of us are rightfully concerned about holiday gift giving while others have already begun their buying early. We have all seen the Christmas season creeping in early on Halloween, but this can actually help some people spread out the gift buying over a longer period of time. We much prefer using a planned budget instead of depending on credit cards and suffering depression in January when the bills pile in.
Throughout the year, or as early as possible, it’s a good idea to save $10 to $25 a paycheck. It can add up nicely when it’s time to buy gifts (or make them). With 26 paychecks in a year that’s around $500 when black Friday hits after Thanksgiving.
However, few of us can escape the realities of a harsh economic and political climate today, not to mention the increased hardships (jobless, out of business, or health, for instance) we’ve endured.
It’s a good idea to rethink our spending strategies. Besides just setting aside money from each paycheck, there are other ways to find money to put aside. Some people set up a separate savings account just for gift giving.
Here are some additional ideas some may deem helpful:
🔹Choose a gift of something useful and customized for the individual. This year spend less, but provide more value. A book (instead of a toy or game), health food or supplements (rather than a fruit cake), or something needed (helpful household items versus nonessential decorative ones).
🔹Cutting Down on Eating Out. Lunches out with coworkers can be dropped for one day of the week. At $6 to $12 a day, that adds up to, in a month $24 to $40+ that can be instead put into a gift savings jar.
🔹Reduce Your TV Service. We haven’t had any such service in over three years and absolutely love it: No fake news, social engineering or propaganda has been wonderful. Our time is spent simply living, traveling and experiencing (rather than having). It’s far more meaningful.
Those television ads will have you believing the whole point of Christmas is to spend tons of money on food, shopping and dining out.
Instead of going cold turkey, you can drop down your TV subscription to basic service for a few months or the summer and sock away the savings. This is also handy if you are coming to the end of a promo and can’t get another one; drop down in service for a few months and then pick up the new promos coming out later. You could save considerable money each month and it’s not that hard.
🔹Limit the Coffee/Donut/Sweets/Soda Budget. I remain amazed at the drive thru queues at coffee shops in the morning. This wouldn’t be a lot of money set aside but if you buy a $5+ drink and reduce it by one cup a week, you have an extra $20-$30 to put into savings for gifts.
By making some simple changes to your budget NOW, you can plan to have a terrific Christmas. There are plenty of other ways to save money. Just look at what you are currently spending on any one item and try to reduce it by a few dollars each week. Those dollars add up quickly.
If you aren’t willing to cut back at all, there are a couple of ways to bring in extra money and set that aside for gifts as well.
🔹Save Change. I’ve always been a fan of rounding up in the checkbook and by the end of the month there’s a good $15-$25 higher in the bank than my checkbook shows. That extra money goes to savings without a thought. And add into that any change I get throughout the year, there’s around $250-350 dollars that I didn’t even have to cut back for.
🔹Do you really NEED it? Selling off items around the house (some people I know find stuff on the curb for trash pickup and regularly make more than a few extra bucks). Keep the fees to a minimum and try selling the items off through Craigslist first. The idea is to collect it all in a closet and then have yourself a grand yard sale over a warm weekend.
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