I love the holiday season. Watching a Christmas Story on repeat, shopping for the perfect gifts and spending time with family and friends really is the most wonderful time of the year. But let's be real, it gets expensive.
Between traveling, shopping, food and the other expenses that come along with the holidays it's easy to go way over your budget or break the bank. But it doesn't have to be that way.
I reached out to 14 personal finance pros (15 if you include my personal tip!) to find out some smart and creative ways to save a few bucks during the holidays. Check out their answers below!
Steve Adcock from Think Save Retire
Don't buy anything. Seriously. Instead, *do something* with the person. A hike. A deep two hour discussion about an important topic at a local coffee shop. Something that they will remember long after whatever you would have bought for them winds up in a landfill somewhere.
Jim Wang from Wallet Hacks
I keep a list of people I need gifts for throughout the year and snag gifts whenever they are on sale. Popular gifts are often discounted around the holidays but some of the less common ones aren't, so you need to keep that list throughout the year so you can get the best deals available even if it's in the spring or summer months.
Edwin from Frugal Wiz
Shop Early - Don't wait until the last minute to buy presents or you'll end up overspending. Having extra time to compare prices is especially helpful when buying big-ticket items like a new TV or a bicycle.
Jessica from JessicaMoorhouse.com
Travelling during the holidays can be expensive. I go back home to Vancouver from Toronto every year and if you aren’t strategic with booking your flight, it could cost you hundreds of dollars extra.
What I do to save on flights, besides price comparing different airlines, is I book my flight to depart in mid-December and come back home a few days after the New Year. I choose dates that just miss the crazy holiday prices. And if you’re worried about not having enough vacation days to do this, try asking your work if you can work remotely for a few days.
Melanie Lockert from Dear Debt
Instead of giving gifts, give people coupons that can be redeemed for services. For example, you could give a coupon for doing chores, or a night of babysitting or cooking.
For more fun coupons, you can have a "girls night in" with some cheap wine and movies. This is a great way to give time and also be practical.
Greg Johnson from Club Thrifty
It's easy to get tempted into buying more than you planned for. Worse yet, you may intend to buy gifts for others but end up spending ridiculous amounts of money on yourself. Set a holiday budget and stick to it!
Also, make sure you have the cash to cover every purchase you make. The last thing you want is to be so generous that you start off the new year in debt!
Tiffany from The Budgetnista
Before you even step foot in a mall, review your income and expenses for December and come up with a number you feel comfortable with spending on gifts (that won’t put you in debt).
Then, budget out a certain amount of money for each person on your holiday shopping list.
Michelle from Making Sense Of Cents
To save up money for the holidays, my top tip is to find ways to make more money. Doing so can make the holiday season a little more enjoyable as you won’t have to go into debt or use dip into your savings to afford gifts and other holiday expenses.
Plus, there are tons of things you could do to make extra money. You could find a part-time job (UPS, Target, Macy's, and other companies always need holiday help), ask for more hours at your day job (if you're an hourly worker), start a side business, and so on.
Barry from Money We Have
Travelling during the holidays can be expensive since, so anywhere you can save will help. The key is to be flexible. If you're willing to move your departure or return dates, you could potentially save hundreds on flights. You'll also want to look at the price difference.
Andrew from Family Money Plan
The best savings tip I found was gift exchanges. This will take your gift buying from a large group to a smaller amount. There was a big group of us that used to draw names and do a gift exchange. The last year we did it we noticed everyone was busy, and everyone got a gift card to a store they liked.
It was the equivalent of swapping envelopes of dollar bills around a room. My advice is if you have a situation where either money is tight, or you don’t have time to get your shopping done then I suggest having that open conversation that says “Look we are all just getting gift cards for each other. Instead of doing this why don’t we just get together without the gifts”. If you in a situation like this, chance are you are not the only one thinking this way.
David Carlson from Young Adult Money
Make a budget for the gifts you are going to give. List out everyone you are buying gifts for and how much you are budgeting for each person. Keep track of how much you actually spend, too, and be diligent about staying within your budget.
Kalen from Money Mini Blog
When you're considering what to buy your kids for the holidays, consider changing the way you give presents. If you tend to spend a lot on your kids for Christmas, you may be spending too much.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that since you didn't have much as a kid, your kids deserve to have everything. Here's the deal: they don't. Why spend thousands on Christmas presents? Your kids will be better off if you put that money into your own retirement (so you can afford to take care of yourself when you retire) or into their school. How many of their toys from the last couple years do they still play with? Consider going with quality over quantity this year. Your kids will thank you later.
Christine from The Wallet Diet
Call people to wish them a Merry Christmas instead of mailing them a Christmas card. I love getting stuff in the mail but nothing beats a good conversation. And for anyone within driving distance, why not spread your holiday cheer in person?
DJ from Money Goody
My personal tip to save money over the holidays is to limit the number of gifts you give. Some people have a giving spirit and want to buy something for everyone they know. But that's often not necessary.
Instead, stick to getting gifts for the people closest to you. If you want to give gifts to the masses, consider sending out Christmas cards. It only costs a few bucks and it's a kind gesture.