Everyone could use some help with the holiday season. Whether it is a few more bucks in the banking account, or having family over to help manage the kids while you wrap presents, everyone would appreciate having an extra boost for the upcoming Winter. With that in mind, here are a few quick things you can do to help launch yourself into the Christmas festivities with a few more dollars in your pocket.
1. Use a rewards credit card for all of your Christmas purchases
Obviously, be sure to not overspend by using a credit card (you did set a budget, didn't you?). If you can resist that temptation, then in January you can cash in your rewards to pay off your bill or get started on your new year's resolution. Make sure that you have the best rewards credit card for you – it depends a lot on where you make most of your purchases. I personally use a Capital One cash back credit card. I don't spend a lot in any one place, so getting a consistent 1% back on everything that I put on the credit card really helps.
2. Skip the annual Christmas party
Spoiler, someone gets drunk. So often Christmas parties require such time and energy that they're simply not worth it. Unless you really want to go, or unless you feel like keeping your job is dependent on it – skip it. You save the hassle of getting ready, and the money on gifts, clothing, and liquor.
3. Get all your Christmas shopping done now
Every day you wait just means that the stores will be that much busier. Not to mention, the frantic mindset you'll have come Dec 24 will mean less chance to comparison shop, get the best bargain, and save yourself some money. Even worse, you could end up purchasing something that the gift recipient doesn't even like and they end up returning the gift after Christmas!
4. Skip Black Friday/Pre-Christmas/Boxing Day sales
Recent studies have shown that prices for some items tend to fall well after Black Friday. If holiday sales didn't work for retailers, they wouldn't be having them. Come January when sales have slowed down, prices start to drop as new models come out and old stock needs to be moved off the floor. Give yourself a late Christmas gift and purchase your big ticket items after the crazy November/December “sales” are over.
5. Clarify gift giving etiquette with friends and family
Are you still going to give a gift to Uncle Johnny? Are you expecting a gift from your neighbours? Take a few minutes and phone the people you're not sure you're going to give or get a gift from. If you'd like, agree to not give each other a gift, and instead promise to send an update email or grab a coffee sometime. Obviously, that won't work for everyone. In some cases, try suggesting that instead of an awkward gift exchange, you each donate to a Charity of the other's choosing. Exchange the gift receipts. It will probably cost less than purchasing a gift, the receiver gets exactly what they want, and the charity gets a donation. Win, win, win. If that doesn't work, consider taking a day off to craft a plethora of gift exchange presents. Do one thing really well (like your famous cookies, flavoured oils, hand paintings), and use those for each different gift/exchange you go to.
6. Automatic withdrawal to your savings account for Christmas
Seriously, create an automatic withdrawal to a savings account for next year's Christmas. Set it up to take $50 a month and put it into a separate bank account, and by next year you'll have over $600 towards gifts, travel, whatever you need. This is the first year that we did it, and I'll tell you, it's a huge relief to have that money tucked away. There's no stress in trying to fit Christmas budgets into regular budgets – the money is just there.
All of these things are simply, one step actions that will reduce a huge amount of financial stress for the next few weeks. What are your tiny tips?