By Maneli Ortiz for South Kern Sol
The holidays are around the corner, and if careful planning is not on your list, then the holidays can leave you financially drained. Here are some ways I have learned to save during the holidays.
Create a budget
It’s important to have a budget in mind when purchasing gifts, since it can help you stick to what you need to buy and save you money on trips you may need to take to the store. Set a budget and decide what you will be giving to your loved ones. Don’t forget to include travel and food expenses. Even if you want to pamper your loved ones, you must remember your budget in order to keep it in check during the season.
Planning ahead will save you time and money. If you already have in mind the gifts you will be purchasing, you can start buying them late October and early November. This will save you time and money; remember no one wants to be stuck in the stores making last- minute stops when you could be spending that time with your family. Don’t forget to check off gifts from your list as you purchase them.
Make sure to compare prices before purchasing your gifts. Most stores have websites that allow you to check their weekly ads and prices on certain items. Wal-Mart has “Ad Match,” which means that Wal-Mart will drop the price on a product if you find it cheaper elsewhere. This can save you time and gas. Target and Toys R Us match their prices against Amazon, so check your favorite online retailers and ask if you can get a better deal at your local stores.
Coupons and Mobile Apps.
Many retailers send out coupons during throughout the holiday season. Coupons can be found in your Sunday newspaper or check if your local store has a coupon booklet. More and more retailers are going digital, preferring to send their customers coupons or deals to their e-mails on a daily basis. Techies can check out ibotta, a mobile app that offers you discounts on many items that you can redeem through a Paypal account. For the rest of us, don’t forget Target’s Cartwheel app, which offers exclusive deals in an easy-to-use app.
Shopping online saves you time and money. Most stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and other retailers sell products online for a much cheaper price, often even selling online-exclusives. Cyber Monday is like Black Friday, but only online, so you still get those great deals, but you don’t have to wait in long lines or travel. “I can just shop from home; I don’t even have to worry about traffic or gas. It’s my secret,” says Bianca Garcia, 25, from Bakersfield.
Do you have a large family, and even with the saving tips above, cannot afford a gift for everyone in your family? Well a better way to have fun with your family is to have a secret gift exchange, also known as a Secret Santa. This makes Christmas even more exciting, because of the suspense of who your “Secret Santa” might be throughout those weeks.
Quality, is better than Quantity
If you are entirely broke, and you just simply do not have any money – make a gift yourself. You can write a poem, a letter, draw an illustration, and make something that comes deeply from your heart. You can even look online to watch videos on how to create inexpensive crafts to give. Your loved ones will surely appreciate the gifts you make.
Have a Potluck with Friends instead of Eating Out
Planning a potluck with friends can be a fun, memorable experience that can save you money. Eating out at a restaurant can quickly drain your bank account, and the experience isn’t as cozy as opening your house to your friends and loved ones for a nice time with food and music of your choice.