Christmas is just a few months away – is your wallet ready? If the holiday season is something you haven’t budgeted for in the past, get ahead of the game this year by starting early. (You’ll thank us come January, when there’s still money in your wallet!)
Gifts, trips, decorations, pricey dinners out, or feeding a dozen people at your house – Christmas debt grows fast! Money just about evaporates over the holidays. And if you’re taking time off work to spend with family, some of you may be running on unpaid leave. To help you avoid falling into debt this Christmas, here are our top tips to save or make money, starting now:
Create a Budget
Creating a budget is by far THE BEST way to save money. We talk about it a lot at Signature Financial. The only way to truly get in control of your money is to know exactly what is going in and out. The money you have coming in minus your living expenses will show you exactly how much cash you can allocate to purchases such as Christmas gifts or trips. This helps you get realistic, and not overspend.
Have you been collecting rewards points from several different stores? Redeem them for travel to see family or Christmas presents like gift cards to stores and restaurants. Some credit cards even allow you to use your rewards points to pay down credit card balances.
Doing your Christmas shopping online is a fast and convenient way to compare prices and get the whole lot delivered to your house. Staying away from the mall curbs impulse purchases and overspending. It’s far too easy to get tricked into spending with deals like: “2 for 1” and “free gift with purchase over $150”. Shopping online is also a great way to avoid the Christmas crowds.
Instead of buying the latest and greatest toys and electronic gadgets, try making your own Christmas gifts. This applies not only to Christmas gifts, but for just about everything you use in your home. From cleaning to bathroom products, here’s a list of common household items you can make yourself for a fraction of the store price. By December, you’ll have extra play money.
Set a Gift Budget
Chat to your family about setting a reasonable price limit on gifts. Or, if all the kids have grown up, consider a “no presents, just presence” rule, and focus on spending quality time with your loved ones instead. You probably don’t need yet another pair of socks anyway.
It’s still pretty nice out this time of year. Gather all sellable items, post an ad online and hold a yard sale. Be ruthless! If you haven’t used it in 12 months, you’re probably not going to miss it. Or if you can borrow an item from a friend (for free!) that one time a year you need it, let go of yours. A few extra dollars in your bank will give you more comfort than a dust-magnet taking up space in your home.
Get a Seasonal Side Job
Seasonal work always pops up around the holidays. Get ahead with your finances by taking on a casual side job, if you are able. Not only will you be earning extra cash, you’ll hopefully be too busy working to be out spending it. If your kids are old enough, maybe they’re ready to see what a hard-earned dollar looks like and learn about financial responsibility.
Start Your Own Side Hustle
You may have been dreaming of launching your own side hustle. Whatever your skill happens to be, now is a great time to start taking on consulting clients or selling your crafts online. Start hustlin’ by spreading the word through your personal networks. You’ll be surprised how fast word travels.
The sooner you start thinking about holiday spending, the less shock you’ll feel when the credit card statement arrives in January!
Are you as rich as you think?
Have you read our post on how to calculate your Net Worth? Calculating your net worth regularly can help you assess where you’re at financially, and if you’re on track for a comfortable retirement. It might make you think twice about what you usually spend at Christmas time.