It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year. Do you feel financially overwhelmed by the holidays? I know I’ve felt that way. The Christmas season and the end of the year can bring lots of added stress and financial obligations, from Christmas gifts, travel, business expenses, etc. Not to mention the fact that 2020 was basically a giant train wreck with the global pandemic which, for many people, brought job loss, decreased income, and other financial strains. To say the least, you are in good company if you don’t feel financially prepared for Christmas.
And if Christmas snuck up on you this year and you aren’t feeling financially prepared for Christmas, you certainly aren’t alone. Here are some tips to help you get financially ready for the holidays so that you don’t find yourself putting expenses on a credit card.
Cut extra spending.
One of the first and easiest things you can do to get financially prepared for Christmas is to cut any extra spending out of your budget. Cutting out unnecessary expenses such as going out to eat can help you stash away money for Christmas fast.
Cutting extra expenses can be as simple as making more intentional choices when you are grocery shopping– only buy items on sale and that you know you will use. You can loosen up your budget later after you are done hunkering down on your expenses during the holidays.
Use cash back apps and web browser extensions.
Another super easy way to save money and get financially prepared for Christmas is to make sure you are taking advantage of the best cash back apps — where you can literally earn money just for doing your regular grocery shopping.
Dosh is one of my favorite cash back apps lately because you literally don’t have to do anything special to earn money. You literally just download the app, link your credit or debit card, and the app will scour your purchases to find cash back (basically coupons) on what you bought. It’s such an effortless way to make some extra cash! You’ll earn $5 for signing up here.
Fetch works similar to Dosh but you’ll have to open up the app to earn your deals. You will have to either scan in your receipts from any shopping that you did or you can link your email address and Amazon account and it will scan them for you! Get 2000 points for signing up with my referral code here.
Rakuten is both a web browser extension and app and it’s probably the most lucrative cash back service. All you do is log in to the app (or their website) and do your regular shopping through the websites you were planning on (ex: Amazon) and Rakuten will apply the best promo codes and or offer you cash back on your purchase. Right now they’ll give you $40 cash back on the first $40 you spend!! It’s usually $10 cash back so this is amazing. Earn $40 cash back when you sign up here.
Honey is similar to Rakuten. It will scour the internet for the best available promo codes for you and automatically apply them to your shopping cart at check out. It will also offer cash back for certain purchases. Earn 500 Honey gold for signing up here.
Sell stuff online.
Another way to get financially prepared for Christmas at the last minute is to start selling your stuff online. Got through your home and put a pile of things together of things that you don’t need anymore and list them on Facebook market place or OfferUp. Even if you feel silly about selling the item– maybe it’s something small. You might surprise yourself that someone out there wants it! This has happened to me many times.
Temporarily take a second job.
Taking on a second job is a great way to get financially prepared for all of the spending that the holiday season brings. I know that probably doesn’t sound like the funnest idea in the world, but it’s certainly better than paying interest on a credit card that you’d otherwise be paying off over the next several months (or years!)
Prepare for holiday travel.
Even if it is fairly last minute, you can still financially prepare for holiday travel at Christmas. You can save tons of money buy purchasing plane tickets about 50 days before Christmas, and the best deals are usually found on Tuesdays.
Learn to say no.
You’ll be more financially prepared for Christmas the sooner you can learn to say no to unnecessary expenses. The holidays are such a demanding time financially. If you don’t want to participate in something, such as a holiday raffle at work no matter how expensive, don’t feel guilty about saying no. Same is true for any type of gift or charitable giving. You can still be a good person and be giving, but you don’t have to say yes to all people. [Related: How to Say No]
Consider the cost of Christmas cards.
Another way to make sure you’re financially prepared for Christmas is to take into account the costs of holiday cards if you choose to do one. You’ll need to budget for postage, printing the card, and a photographer. Of course, this is something you could skip all together. Or, you could snap a photo yourself, and or you could consider sending out an e-card rather than sending your card in the mail.
Make a list and check it twice.
In order to know how much money you’ll need for the holidays, you should make a list of everyone you intend to buy a gift for. This list can get pretty lengthy. Think about teachers for your kids, neighbors, extended family members, friends, your immediate family, anyone you can think of that you would possibly buy a gift for. Then, narrow that list down and stick to it. Lastly, set a gift budget. This will help you be prepared financially when you know how many gifts you’ll be buying and what you’ll be spending total.
Plan Christmas out as early as you can to be financially prepared for Christmas.
Along those lines, you should plan out your Christmas season as early as you can so that you can be financially prepared for Christmas. Jot down holiday parties you know you will attend, meals you’ll be required to make, when you’ll take your Christmas card photo, etc. The more you know what to expect during the holidays, the better off financially you will be.
Take advantage of Black Friday deals.
Once you have a list of things you will be buying this holiday season and your budget is set, you can take advantage of some seriously great Black Friday deals. This year is strange because of Covid-19, many stores are doing a “Black November” where you can score Black Friday prices all month long to avoid crowds congregating at stores.
Pick up extra hours.
Another easy way to get financially prepared for Christmas is to pick up extra hours at work. This is one of the easiest ways to bring in a little extra cash for the obvious reason that you already work there! You won’t have to go out and hunt for a second job or a side hustle. Simply ask for more hours or more work to do. That way, you’ll have the money you need to carry you through Christmas time.
Consider making meaningful gifts.
Another thing you can do is plan to make some of your gifts rather than purchasing them. Some of the best Christmas gifts are meaningful hand crafted gifts, such as Christmas ornaments or decorations.
If you’re hosting holiday parties, ask for help.
If you intend to host any holiday gatherings, be sure to ask for help. Have your guests bring a side dish so you don’t get bogged down with a big bill.
Keep it simple.
The best way you can prepare yourself financially for the holidays is to remember throughout it all to keep it simple. The first Christmas was simple; it’s ok if yours is too.
Get the guide.
If you need a little help getting organized so that you can financially prepare for Christmas, download our free holiday budget printable here. It will help you make and stick to a budget over the holidays and has extra space so you can customize it to your budget’s needs.
Christmas doesn’t have to feel completely overwhelming financially. Use these tools to help you get on track and stay there so you can enjoy this happy season. Happy holidays!