Every year you promise to be better about holiday savings as November and December kick off a season. That means celebrating, family, feasting, and contrary to your plans…a lot of spending. The holidays are a chance to make memories, but this can also be a time of financial stress—especially if you wait until the last minute to make plans. And let’s be honest: with high interest rates and student loan payments resuming, many of us are justified in our reticence to spend.
Our financial wellness partners at GreenPath arrive in today’s guest blog with a few holiday savings strategies to help you save this season…even at the last minute!
Holiday Savings for Travelers
Last-minute flight or hotel plans? Compare discount sites (like Hopper and Kayak) against airline and hotel sites which may offer promotional discounts if you book direct. You can also compare the cost of one-way tickets, which can be cheaper than round-trip fare.
Flexible Dates & Times
Flying a day earlier or later can significantly reduce the cost of your tickets and pad your holiday savings. Likewise, pay attention to departure times. Early morning or red-eye takeoffs (versus afternoon flights) can trim as much as $100-$200 per ticket.
When searching for holiday flights, be sure to include other airports within your filter parameters. Sometimes flying into or out of a smaller airport (even on one leg of the trip) can reduce your total checkout cost.
Do you need a rental car or hotel in addition to your flight? Many travel sites offer discounted rates if you book everything together—this one-stop-shop approach is great for your holiday savings and also saves you planning time.
If you have accumulated frequent flyer miles or credit card reward points, now is the time to cash in on them. They can trim your travel expenses or even cover the cost of a flight.
Gift Giving Guidance
Thoughtful gifts don’t require a big budget or expert crafting – a video tribute, photo book, or curated snack basket for the sweet tooth, coffee lover, or home baker in your life are just a few ideas. Consider your creative talents and how those might be expressed as a cherished and personal gift.
Many of us have something in our home that we don’t use – an appliance collecting dust or something you were gifted twice. Host a party where your friends or family bring a quality item they’d be happy to swap.
The Gift of Time
The holidays are an especially busy time, and caregiving is often a steep hourly expense. Instead of buying gifts, offer cost-free babysitting or pet sitting to someone who could benefit from a date night or weekend away from home.
Opt for an Outing
Gifts aren’t the only way to connect during the holidays. Suggest a group experience you can enjoy together. Whether it’s a holiday performance, snow tubing, or a festive exhibit, experiences are so often what make a season memorable, and collaborating on cost can bolster your holiday savings.
Holiday Savings for a Full Stomach
Keep it Simple
While it may be tempting to recreate a lavish meal from your childhood or gourmet cookbook, there’s nothing wrong with keeping ingredients simple. Prioritize what matters to you. If you want to go big on one entree, complete the meal with less costly side dishes like roasted vegetables or rolls. Consider leftovers when you budget out monthly meals, as this can contribute to your holiday savings.
Host a potluck dinner where each guest brings a dish to share. This not only reduces the cost and pressure of cooking for a large group but also makes the meal more diverse. You might even walk away with a favorite new recipe!
Dessert or Appetizers Only
If you’re tight on funds this season – and still want to enjoy coming together for a meal – host a dessert or appetizer-only gathering where everyone brings something on the smaller side.
Skip the Smorgasbord
The holidays are a hard time for so many households living paycheck-to-paycheck or living without a paycheck at all. You don’t need a big budget to make a meaningful impact. In lieu of a lavish meal, donate to your local food bank in your area and encourage others to join you.
If holiday spending has you feeling stressed, reach out! Our partner GreenPath can help you pay down debt, create a sustainable budget, and connect to free financial courses designed to build a healthy financial foundation year-round.
With holiday savings being an annual priority, consider a holiday club account to save up for giving season of next year (it will arrive much sooner than you think!)
This article is shared by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national non-profit.