The winter holidays are almost here, and along with them comes lots of cheer but sometimes a little stress too. After all, there are gifts to buy, decorations to put up, and guests to entertain. But relax! No matter what’s on that to-do list, Chambers Bank has a list of ten fantastic tips to help you cut your gift spending in half so you can stress less and maybe even end the year with more money in your bank account.
Look through these tips, try them out, and most of all–have fun!
Set a gift budget and stick to it.
The first thing you should do before you start buying gifts is determine your budget. Figure out your income and expenses for the rest of the year and then mark whatever you have left over for gifts and savings. If you’ve got less money than expected, you’ve got even more reasons to keep reading this blog post!
By the way, if you’re looking for a budgeting tool to help you put all your accounts in one place and visualize your spending and savings categories, get the free Chambers Bank Personal Finance tool available through Online Banking.
Build an itemized gift list.
Once you know how much you can afford to spend on gifts, make an itemized list that includes each person you need to buy for, plus the amount to spend per person. Along with each person’s name, list a few potential gifts they might like so you can be on the lookout for sales as they come up. If you need an app to help you, here’s a list of six top gift list apps you can choose from and try on your smartphone or mobile device.
Utilize price-tracking apps and websites to help you watch for deals.
If you like shopping online, you probably know it can be a little frustrating to always be checking websites for the lowest prices. Price-tracking apps and browser extensions like ShopSavvy and Honey solve this dilemma by helping you keep track of prices, alerting you when price drops occur, applying automatic coupon codes, and more. Some apps like Capital One Shopping will even give you cash back when a retailer cuts the price on something you’ve already purchased elsewhere.
Sign Up for Chambers Bank Savings Cents Program.
Whether you’re shopping for gifts or buying everyday necessities, enrolling in the Savings Cents program is a great way to put a little extra into your savings account without even noticing. Here’s how it works: Whenever you use your Chambers debit card online or in stores, your purchases will be rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference gets deposited automatically into your Chambers savings account on the next business day.
So how much can you save? See this example:
Gifts: $101.14 (+0.86)
Groceries: $152.54 (+0.46)
Coffee: $6.28 (+0.72)
Gas: $58.61 (+0.39)
Dinner $32.01 (+0.99)
Total sent to savings account=$3.42
Over time, this kind of savings can really add up! To enroll, you just need to have a Chambers debit card and savings account and then complete an Automatic Transfer Form to authorize the Savings Cents program. Simply stop in at any branch location to complete the form or contact us to have the form sent to you.
Shop the Big Holiday Sales
When it comes to finding good deals, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, and Green Monday are some of the best days to find sales on gifts. Most retailers also offer free shipping on these dates when you spend a minimum amount, plus, you can sometimes even receive additional coupon codes to use for future purchases. A few websites you may want to bookmark as you wait for these dates include BlackFriday.com and TheBlackFriday.com.
Collaborate With Others and Buy One Big Gift for Someone.
Setting a price limit for holiday gifts is an important first step in sticking to your budget, but if this limit makes it difficult for you to purchase what you really want for someone, then consider pooling money with others to buy the gift.
For example, you want to buy your mom a high-quality coffee maker for the holidays, but you’ve set a limit of $100 on her gift. Try asking siblings or others who usually give her gifts to pitch in on the purchase together. Overall, this can be a great way to give a person something you normally wouldn’t be able to afford on your own.
Give an Experience or Service as a Gift
All of us have unique skills and talents that we can share with others. For example, maybe you’re skilled with a musical instrument, you know how to do home repairs, or you’re good at cleaning and organizing. So instead of buying a physical gift, give someone a note or coupon to teach a skill or perform a service. By gifting this way, you not only avoid spending money, but the recipient doesn’t have to deal with a potentially unwanted item plus they get something they can really use!
Use Rewards Credit Cards for Cash Back on Your Purchases
Many credit cards today offer cash back every time you spend with your card, and the percentage back ranges from 1-5% on average. Couple this with holiday retail discounts and you might be able to get over 50% off your purchases once you redeem your cash rewards. If you decide to use this as a holiday shopping strategy, however, just remember to stay consistent with your budget–and don’t spend more than you can pay off in a month’s cycle.
Give More DIY Gifts
Whether or not you’re creative, a DIY gift can be very special to the person receiving it, and the time you put into it can mean just as much. Try looking for DIY ideas and instructions on websites like Pinterest. You’ll be able to find gifts for all ages, from foods and crafts to home goods and jewelry, with some gifts costing just a few dollars each to make.
Do a Gift Exchange Versus Buying Everyone Something Individually
If you want to save a lot of time, money, and hassle this season, agree to do a gift exchange instead of giving individual gifts. You can either exchange names and share wish lists ahead of the event or agree to a white elephant exchange. Either way, put a dollar limit in place and make sure everyone is aware of the rules. Overall, limiting your gathering to a gift exchange can help everyone focus more on sharing a meal and spending quality time together versus worrying about how much was spent or if people are happy with what they received.
Once you’ve set a plan in motion for spending less on holiday gifts, you can put the extra money aside to build up your cash savings for future needs or even get a head start on next year’s gift giving. Our Chambers savings products provide several interest-earning options that are both easy to manage and convenient.
Happy shopping, and have a wonderful holiday season!