High inflation. Soaring gas prices. More expensive mortgages. It’s as if someone put Ebeneezer Scrooge in charge of the holidays.
They will not be cheap: $641 on gifts, $224 on non-gift items like food and decorations, and $139 on other non-gift purchases, according to data from the National Retail Federation.
If that gives you the financial chills, put more cheer, not less, into the holidays. How do you do that without emptying your checking and savings accounts?
Here are our 12 tips for 2022:
- Pay yourself first with a Tropical Financial Daily Rewards Debit account. You will earn 2 cents for every retail purchase in person or online. And you do not have to worry about a minimum balance requirement or monthly fee.
- Put your dollars in budget buckets – one for gifts, another for charitable donations. Depending on your holiday plans, you will need a third for travel, a fourth for dining out, and a fifth for decorations and clothing. When the bucket is empty, stop spending.
- Track your spending. It’s easy to buy online with one click. Impulse purchases add up too fast, so check the remaining balance in your budget bucket before placing an order
- When traveling, stay with friends and families. While airline ticket and gasoline prices are beyond your control, you will save hundreds of dollars each night you are not in a hotel.
- Watch for sales. Almost all of the logistical bottlenecks that created gift shortages last year are gone. Retailers are flush with inventory, which means there is a greater likelihood of better sales this year.
- Check your loyalty program balances. Rather than spending cash, now may be the right time to buy an item with the credits built up with a retailer.
- Go BOGO. When buying identical gifts, look for sales where you buy one and get one for free or half-off. This strategy works well on lower-priced items.
- Keep couponing. Watch for offers in the mail – and email. Regularly check the websites of the retailers where you often shop during the holidays for pop-up messages about discounts with that day’s purchase.
- Don’t get caught up in Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other rush-sale madness. Yes, that electronic or kitchen gadget is 80% off, but, really, how useful is it to the gift recipient? Save your cash for something that will mean much more to that individual.
- Buy sooner rather than later. Shopper demand rises in December, so stores are less likely to offer discounts. By walking the virtual or store aisles now when you are not under pressure to buy something (anything!), you can take a photo of or bookmark what you like and shop elsewhere for a better deal.
- Ship early. Companies like UPS and FedEx have raised their prices. You can send in November by the cheapest method. Come mid-December, you will pay a lot more to get that gift there overnight or 2-3 days.
- Save your receipts. When you have finished shopping, compare what you spent to what you allotted to your buckets. If you came in under budget, put the money into a savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD). If you went over, follow our Get Beyond Money guides to managing your finances so that you have a cheerier 2023.