‘Tis the season to spend mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money. “In Living Color” pop culture nod aside, the holidays shouldn’t break the bank, or even dent it.
It’s true: The African-American buying power is nearing $1.2 trillion. The holidays send well-intended Americans into a shopping frenzy. Who doesn’t want to make their loved ones feel special with gifts? Although Christmas isn’t truly about the presents we all love receiving and giving. So we’ve rounded up some of the best tips on how to save money this holiday season.
1. Set A Budget
Whether you buy only for your children or everyone in your family (even the cousins you barely know) there should be a budget in place before one cent is spent on Christmas gifts. The budget can be a total sum you can afford to spend on all gifts or a maximum you’ll spend on each person you’re buying for. However you set your budget, it should be based on how much you make per month. Once you have a budget, stick to it.
2. Save Up For the Holidays
Open a new bank account specifically for the holidays. Every paycheck leading up to Christmas, put away however much you can spare. By the time Christmas rolls around you’re only using the money you’ve already saved all year. By doing this you’re not spending large sums of money in a two month period.
3. Opt For Meaningful Hand-crafted Gifts
Tons of people have more than what they need. You probably know several people who are incredibly hard to shop for because they have everything. Instead of trying to outdo what you bought them last year or purchase the most expensive item in the store because you know they don’t have it, think about what that person likes, what’s meaningful to them. Have something unique to them made or make it yourself. Not only will it be cheaper, it will be something they can cherish forever.
4. Use Coupons
You read that right. There’s no shame in saving money. Visit sites like Groupon or Living Social to find deals that cost less than the actual value. If the gift is useful and thoughtful, no one will care that it came from Groupon.
5. Check the Competitors
Research the items you want to buy. Don’t snatch up that vacuum cleaner you’re getting your mother-in-law before checking to see where it can be found cheaper. It can always, always be found cheaper.
6. Free Shipping
Online shopping allows you to avoid the crowds and buy your gifts from the comfort of your home. Cyber Monday isn’t the only day to save on items. Usually websites offer free shipping two weeks before Christmas as an incentive to buy. Always check for promotion codes or deals that offer free shipping.
7. Only Spend on What You Can Afford
Hey, everyone may not be able to get a gift this year and that’s ok. If money is tight let people know in advance you’re only buying for your children or parents this year. Send a lovely card with a handwritten note to the friends and family you aren’t able to buy for. Never go into debt swiping your credit card or borrowing money to purchase gifts.
Remember Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus (if you’re a believer) and spending time with loved ones. Gifts are merely a bonus.