Tips and advice

Holiday Money Saving Tips

Holidays are a time when an increase in normal spending habits is unavoidable. Whether you're after affordable Christmas gift ideas, discount holiday travel, or decorating on a budget - these Holiday Money Saving tips will help keep the spending reasonable and stretch your dollar a little bit farther this holiday season. [caption id="attachment_32093" align="aligncenter" width="600"]

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Start with a Budget, Not a List

It's first important to sit down and figure out how much exactly you'd like to spend this holiday season. Consider all the things you'll be spending money on - travel, decorations, party favors, food, and of course, gifts. Start with an overall number you're comfortable with spending before breaking it down into categories. Attribute a dollar amount to each person you're shopping for instead of an item so that you won't overspend on a hot trend. Remember budget for incidentals, too. Don't forget to factor in the cost of wrapping paper, fast food stops, and postage before you start breaking down your budget.

There's Strength in Numbers

Gifting: is there a gadget or travel destination that you know is at the top of their list, but will break your budget? Go in on it with family members or friends to save money and still get that extra special gift. Gifts also mean more when they're heartfelt and not just store bought which can mean big savings. Consider what's going on in your friend or relative's life for something thoughtful and be sure to check out our list of "not-your-average" gift ideas for the host. Travel: it's often cheaper to drive than to fly, and even cheaper if you're able to carpool. See where friends will be traveling around the holidays and coordinate travel plans. You can also ask to stay with family to avoid paying expensive hotel costs - just make sure you know how to be a good guest before making plans to stay.

Search for Discounts & Keep Your Receipts

A quick walk through the mall will tell you that retailers are dying for your business - virtually every store you see will be running some sort of sale up until Christmas. Do your research before you shop to find the best deals for you. It's easy to search for coupons online, or use cash-back websites like to get the most for your money. If your credit card has a reward program, now is a good time to see what points you've earned over the year. You'll also save money by saving your receipts (and make life easier for gift recipients when you give them a gift receipt, too). Many stores have exchange-only policies when items are not returned with a receipt and you'll get the lowest price that the item has been listed. This will help if you notice that something you purchased has gone on sale even more than what you paid for it, too.

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