As soon as that last piece of turkey is safely tucked away in the fridge, it feels like a bell goes off, giving you permission to spend. Let’s be honest—during the holidays you are going to spend on things like gifts, party giving, and party going. It’s the most magical time of the year and the one month you are certain to go off budget.
Spreading Joy the Smart Way
That said, the holidays don’t have to break your budget. Here are five tips to help you continue saving, even when you are spending.
Tip #1 Be Rewarded for Browsing
Like many retailing and digital coupon apps, ShopKick alerts you to stores with promotions. However, not all these promotions require you to spend money. ShopKick will award you points just for walking in the door at some stores. You can earn more by scanning specified product bar codes, and even more points are awarded if you buy those products. Accumulate enough points, and you can redeem them for gift cards. The retailers participating in ShopKick include Macy’s, Best Buy, CVS, and Target, among others.
Tip #2 Get Out More
Apps like Groupon and LivingSocial leverage the power of group buying to get things cheaper. They are especially useful in lowering the cost of taking your family to holiday happenings—from performances to sporting events—and you can save quite a bit on entertainment expenses.
Tip #3 Save on Gas and Parking
Although gas prices have come down this year, GasBuddy is still useful for finding the best gas prices nearby, whether you are traveling near home and work or out of town. Similarly, using parking apps like BestParking, SpotHero, and ParkWhiz to alert you to the cheapest spots near your destination can be especially useful in cities like Chicago and New York, where parking can top $35 just for a dinner out.
Tip #4 Online or in Line, Take Time to Compare
Whether you are online at home or in line at the register, stop and compare prices and last-minute offers before you pay. Check the store itself for discounts available to rewards members and sign up while you are in line if you need to. A 20 percent discount will make it worthwhile! While there are many coupon sites, a good, speedy, all-around go-to app for finding current promo codes is RetailMeNot.com.
Tip #5 Know When You Are Done
It’s best to try to have a list before you leave home so you can focus on sticking to it. Whether it’s for your party or for the gifts under the tree, have a dollar limit for each item. When you do buy gifts, bite the bullet and wrap them yourself instead of paying for the service. Although, you may want to put off wrapping as long as possible. Wrapping paper and ribbons often go on sale closer to the holidays.
Make saving a game of sorts by keeping a running tally of what you would have spent and what you did spend on each item you purchase. Then, reward yourself by adding that amount to your savings account in January.