The holiday season is one of the most expensive times of the year. For those looking to purchase a new home, the expenses that come with gift-giving and entertaining in December threaten to cut money-saving strategies short. But it’s possible to save during the holidays so you can stay on the road to home ownership without veering too far off course by the hustle and bustle.
Know What You Can Afford
It might go without saying, but we will anyway: Setting a budget for the holidays is important. Put your spending plan on paper so you can make smart choices when you see who’s on your gift list, whether you can buy that dress for the holiday party, and what the groceries might cost for hosting a holiday meal. Adjust the list, if necessary, to make the season a bit less expensive. Maybe this is the year you can suggest to your relatives that you draw names instead of everyone buying gifts for all. That could mean fewer gifts for you, but that might not be so bad if you are trying to get your home show-ready for prospective buyers. If you usually buy gifts for friends, a nice dinner out as a group could replace individual material presents. A lower dollar limit everyone agrees to is another way to save on overall holiday spending.
Cut Expenses and Extras
If you’re saving money to buy a home, chances are you’ve already reviewed your expenses and figured out what you can trim. But what else can you do without, even temporarily, until January? Maybe you splurge on takeout once a week or morning coffee out. Consider saving that cash — either for the items on your holiday list or tuck it away in your new house fund.
Count Your Coins
The same goes for loose change. Collect the coins from your pockets every day or every week and set it aside either as part of your holiday budget or a bonus deposit into your savings for your new home.
The worst kind of holiday spending is shopping last minute, buying on impulse, or not knowing when to quit. Avoid making an expensive purchase simply for convenience or lack of time. Take the pressure off by giving yourself time to seek out sales for the gifts on your list. You also need time to shop for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list so that you’re not rushed into overspending. Once your list is complete, stop shopping! You’ll only spend more money when browsing online or stopping in a store just to see if you’ve overlooked a good deal or gift idea. Also, keep in mind that advertisers are purposely appealing to the emotion-driven spenders during this time of year and just because it’s discounted or BOGO doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for your new home savings account. Saving now will prevent the long-lasting stress of unchecked holiday spending.
Save all year long
If you haven’t already done so, start planning for the 2019 holiday season right after the new year. Set up a holiday savings account which you can automatically transfer money to on a regular basis, either directly from your paycheck or from your checking account to a separate account. That way, you won’t touch it until it’s time to use it for the holidays. It’ll help keep you on budget and even if your overall holiday spending goes above the amount you’ve saved, you’ll be glad you had that cushion to tap into. The holidays are also a good opportunity to talk to your kids about the importance of saving and managing money during a stressful time.
No matter the size of your holiday budget, don’t forget the true reasons for the season: appreciating and spending time with family and loved ones. With a little creativity and discipline, you can keep your savings on track, and maybe next year you’ll be hosting the holiday in your new home.