The end of summer means that the kids are back in school, the temperature starts falling, and the end-of-year onslaught of holidays is on the horizon. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s are all welcome respites from the day-to-day grind of life, and most people look forward to them. After all, little kids look adorable in costumes, and what’s better than long holiday dinners shared with the people we love most? Unfortunately, celebrating all of these holidays costs money. Halloween means buying costumes and candy, Thanksgiving means a high grocery bill, and holiday gift-giving can really add up. But there’s no reason why holiday fun has to equal financial disaster. With a little bit of planning, most people can manage to incorporate the cash needed for holiday fun into their spending plans.
Sell Unwanted/Unneeded Items
Start building a holiday nest egg by getting rid of things you no longer need. Cull extra kitchenware, outgrown kids’ clothes, your own clothes that no longer fit your life or style, games, books, and tools and get rid of it all while making some extra money to kick off your holiday fund.
- Everyone knows about hosting a yard sale, and that can be a great way to sell a lot of stuff at once. The most successful yard sales are typically multi-family sales that have lots of signs and are well-marketed, so see if friends, neighbors, or family members would like to bring their stuff to your driveway and set up! Make sure that your signs are colorful, easy to read, and consistent. Marketing your sale on social media is another great way to get buyers to your location.
- Try the classifieds. A couple of decades ago, people sold their stuff through newspaper classifieds, but today, we can also use Craigslist, Nextdoor, or Facebook Marketplace to list our unwanted items.
- There are also lots of apps designed to connect sellers and buyers. Mercari, LetGo, eBay, and Poshmark are just some examples of popular apps that can help you get the most cash possible from selling your stuff. Remember, good pictures are an absolute must for selling online!
Put Aside Money Each Week
It’s simple but effective advice: Pay yourself first! Temporarily divert funds to a holiday savings account or budget line item. Also, go through your spending to look for places to cut. Scaling back on eating out or having food delivered can mean major savings for lots of families. Choosing less expensive options when meal-planning is another simple way to save some money. Just remember to divert your savings straight into your holiday fund so it doesn’t accidentally get used elsewhere!
At this point, is there anyone who isn’t signed up for subscription services? Most of us are signed up for more that we actually use; sometimes, it’s even more than we’re aware of! After all, it’s so easy to sign up for a free trial so you can binge-watch a show that all of your friends are talking about and then never remember to cancel the subscription. Go through your PayPal, checking, and credit card statements with a fine-tooth comb looking for services you can do without for a few months. Also, remember that subscriptions encompass more than just streaming services. Perhaps you signed up for someone’s Patreon, subscribe to a magazine or newspaper, or pay for a service that delivers curated boxes of goodies to your home. Even if you really enjoy these products, consider pausing the service until next year so you can pad your holiday savings.
Swap Services With a Friend
Another way to cut your budget is to look for ways to trade chores with a friend so you can get them done for free. For example, I hate mowing the lawn, but I don’t mind picking up a neighbor’s kid when I get my own and watching them until their parents get home from work. If I watch their child and they mow my lawn, neither of us have to pay for those services, and everyone’s happy. Maybe you’d be happy to walk a friend’s dog if they’d help you make Halloween costumes. Another friend meal-preps dinners each week for her neighbor; in exchange, her neighbor helps her maintain the website she uses for her business. Every little bit helps!
Set a Holiday Budget
According to research experts, the average American spends around a thousand dollars on the holiday season. That includes decorations, food, and gifts. Of course, what the average American spends has nothing to do with how you approach the holidays. Lots of people spend more than a thousand dollars, but there are also people who spend far less. Everyone’s budget, financial goals, and life circumstances are different. The important thing is to look at your financial obligations, income, savings, and goals and decide how much you can comfortably spend. While there are always title loans to cover emergency expenses, setting a budget early is a good idea.
- Break the budget down into categories. People who host gatherings will have higher food costs than people who might just be responsible for bringing a side dish to a potluck. Those with larger families might spend more on gifts. If you live far away from your family, you might have higher travel costs.
- Also, break down your spending by holidays. Some people might spend nothing on Halloween, for instance, while others buy costumes and decorations or even host a party.
- Next, break down the categories into subcategories. With gifts, for example, figure out how much you plan on spending for each child or family member. This also makes sure that both the Thanksgiving and Christmas food budgets are planned for!
Start Shopping Now
Once you have a plan for how to fund your holiday spending and a budget for expenses, don’t be afraid to start shopping now. Grabbing staples as they go on sale at the grocery store will add a few extra dollars to your grocery bill now but save you money and time later on when it’s time to do a larger shopping trip for holiday meals. Raid clearance sections for simple decorations, tableware, and paper products: Will holiday-specific paper napkins really add more to the holiday than solid-colored ones you scored for a fraction of the price? Clearance sections can also be a treasure trove for gifts. Sure, end-of-summer and back-to-school stuff might be out of season, but your uncle will love that new garden hose when he pulls it out in the spring, and kids love art supplies year-round. And don’t forget about after-Halloween sales: Candy usually goes on clearance, and buying it then means you’ll have extra goodies for baking holiday treats or just filling candy bowls during the rest of the festive season.