7 Tips to Encourage Saving and Limit Spending During the Holidays

It’s not always easy to find where to cut out expenses to save for holiday spending. However, with a little discipline, budgeting to save for the holidays can be less arduous. Here are seven tips to get you started:

Skip the daily gourmet latte. If you pick up a daily latte or breakfast sandwich on your way to work consider drinking the coffee at work or buying your own at the grocery store. Going a month without gourmet coffee isn’t much of a sacrifice if it leaves extra funds available to buy gifts for family and friends. Instead of the daily breakfast sandwich, consider buying a bag of bagels or a box of frozen breakfast sandwiches from the grocery store. It will free up roughly $10 a week, which can be used to pay for holiday wrapping paper or another holiday staple.

Bring lunch to work and limit eating out. I brunch one to two times a month with girlfriends, but during the holidays, I limit brunching to my birthday brunch in November and New Year’s Eve. With employer, church, and family and friend holiday parties, why eat out?

Limit spending on yourself. If you have several gifts to buy this holiday season, it’s probably best not to spend money on yourself.  It can be difficult when you spot sales on items you’ve had your eye on for months, (like those cute pair of boots for $35 which normally cost $75). But before you make an impulse purchase, ask yourself if you can afford it, and more importantly ask yourself if you really need it. If your answer is “no,” exercise restraint, and don’t purchase, then consider shopping on the day after Christmas when there will be similar sales or put it on your holiday wish list.  If you feel yourself getting weak, treat yourself to something less expensive, such as a cookie or other treat that costs considerably less.

Make homemade snacks and lunches for the kids. Do you habitually buy after school snacks for the kids? If so, for a month or two consider preparing homemade snacks as an alternative. Instead of buying brownies or cookies from a bakery, make homemade brownies, or bake sugar or gingerbread man cookies that kids can decorate.  If you have teenagers who are used to buying an after school meal from their favorite fast food place, stock up on boxed rice meals, boxed pasta, canned pasta sauce and frozen veggies that they can eat instead.

Buy discount wrapping paper, and/or holiday decorations. You can find nice holiday gift wrap, gift bags and more at discount dollar and department stores, and even thrift stores like Goodwill®, which sometimes have new gift wrap, decorations and home décor.

Don’t carry your debit card for a week. I was amazed at the money I saved by leaving my debit/check card at home.Taking out a specific amount of money for transportation and food, and leaving my card at home prevented impulse spending and in turn saved me money. If an emergency arose, I simply made a trip to the bank and got more money. After all, before ATMs were invented, that was the norm.

Track your spending. This is the most important tip of all. I once tracked my daily spending and realized that I had purchased breakfast for $6, an afternoon snack for $3 and dinner for $15, all of which added up to almost $25 a day and $125 a week. For someone on a fixed income who is trying to save for the holidays, it made a huge difference. Had I not tracked my spending, I would have never known that what I was spending on eating out would be equal to what I could spend on two or more gifts for my nephews.

I’ll be the first to admit that incorporating all of these tips can be difficult, but if you can integrate even one of them for each week of the holiday season, you will save in a major way.  For more ways to save on a regular basis, check out these saving tips on the Military Saves website, and happy holiday saving!

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