While it might be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most stressful time of the year. Christmas can be a great time to get together with friends and family, but it can also be the time of the year when the people ring up the most debt. This is not necessary. There are some options that can help people save money on Christmas. Here are a few.
Look for Discounts
Discounts can show up through a number of different media. The Sunday paper is a good place to look for circulars from some of the leading retailers in the local area. It might be worth it to search through these papers around Black Friday to save money on some of the leading gifts for the season.
Most retailers with a regional or national footprint will also have a social media presence. It’s a good idea to follow your favorite stores to find out about nice discounts on products like those diamond stud earrings you’ve had your eye on.
Buy Decorations Right After Christmas
The best time to buy seasonal items like Christmas clearance trees and lights is right after the holiday has passed. Many times, retailers will mark down the decorations the day after Christmas. They will still work next year, but they will come with a heavy discount if bought during the off-season. Those who show up earlier will have a better selection than those who wait even a few hours.
Avoid Store Credit Card Bonuses
Many retailers will invite shoppers to sign up for a store credit card in return for a 10 or 15 percent discount on their current purchases. This is not really a good idea. These store cards have some of the highest interest rates in the lending business. Additionally, the discount is not really going to add up to enough to make the application worth the effort. For example, 10 percent off of a relatively large $200 purchase is a discount of only $20.
Use Rebate Sites
Sites like Ebates and Swagbucks allow users to get rebates on purchases from select retailers. While some of the rebates can be pretty small like 1 or 2 percent, others can reach discounts of 10 percent or more on purchases from some of the more popular retailers in the country. If you’re going to make a purchase anyway, why not save money with little effort.
Play a Gift Exchange Game
Playing a gift exchange game can be a great way to save money and avoid debt during the Christmas season. Rather than buying a gift for every friend or relative that you come into contact with on an annual basis, why not join in with the group and suggest a gift exchange. Rather than having to buy 10 gifts, you might be able to get by with only one or two. Adding a game into the mix can be a way to make the exchange even more enjoyable than just saving a bit of money can be.
Get a Credit Card Bonus
This option only works if you pay off your bill in full every month and spend only what you would spend anyway. Some credit cards come with sign up bonuses that can range from $100 to $500 or more. This bonus can go toward paying for Christmas gifts so that the stress of paying for Christmas is lower. If you can’t pay off the balance in full every month, there is a better strategy.
Avoid Credit Cards
For those who are prone to fall into credit card debt, no bonus will pay off enough to offset interest expenses. This means that using only cash that’s set aside for Christmas would be the best idea. Even setting aside a bit of money each paycheck in an envelope for Christmas gifts could help the process. Once the money in the envelope gets spent, avoid buying any gifts.
Getting started early is a good idea. Planning for Christmas gifts starting in January can make it less likely that you’ll fall into debt because of the holidays. The time to start this change is now.