The holidays are drawing closer and there’s still so much to do! You’ve got gifts to buy and wrap, meals to prepare and more items on your to-do list than gifts on your preschooler’s wish list. Some days, it can seem like your stress levels will keep rising while the money in your wallet keeps dwindling–all the way up until the holidays arrive. Want some good news? It doesn’t have to be this way! With just a bit of planning and organization, you can have a stress-free and affordable holiday season. Here’s how:
Clear the clutter for cash
Don’t get stuck staring at an overstuffed closet and drawers that refuse to close thanks to the new additions from holiday gifts. Instead, do some pre-planning that can also pad your wallet this season. Before the holidays, look through your closets and drawers for any clothing items you don’t wear any longer, but are still in good condition. You can sell these on resale sites like eBay and Craigslist. Do the same for unworn jewelry and other accessories. You’ll make room for any incoming gifts and give your holiday budget a little wiggle room at the same time.
Shop small businesses
Avoid the crowds and enjoy a wider selection of gift items by shopping small businesses this holiday season. Independently owned stores are more likely to be fully stocked, even late in the season. In addition, the sales help is less likely to be overwhelmed and impatient this time of year. Finally, by shopping at smaller stores that are close to home, you’ll be helping local businesses stay afloat during these trying economic times.
Suggest a Secret Santa exchange
If the gift-shopping is getting to be a bit too much and you find yourself purchasing presents for people you don’t really know all that well, consider cutting back by suggesting a Secret Santa gift exchange. This works great for groups in which everyone knows each other, but may not feel particularly close, such as a group of work colleagues or first cousins. You’ll only need to buy one gift for the group, and the surprise factor makes it super-fun. Use an online Secret Santa generator to keep things simple and fair.
Round up your change
It’s never too late to start saving for the holidays! As you shop, use a money app like Acorn to round up your charge to the nearest dollar, and save the change in a specific account. It’s only a bit of money at a time, but when you make a lot of purchases, those small amounts can add up quickly. The small sum of savings can come in handy late in the season when you’re running low on cash but still need to purchase some gifts or other holiday-related items.
If you’ll be hosting events this holiday season, or even if you’ll just be serving your immediate family, don’t be afraid to delegate jobs to your guests. Everyone will appreciate the opportunity to pitch in, and it’ll be more helpful for you if you can assign specific jobs to each guest, instead of having three people show up at your door, each with an apple pie. Tasks you delegate need not be limited to food prep, either. You can have a guest take charge of the drinks, let another take care of decor and have your teenager handle the invites and RSVPs.
Shop during non-peak hours
Shop early in the day to avoid heavy crowds and empty shelves in your favorite stores. Peak business hours, which start in the early afternoon and run until the evening, will have the biggest crowds and emptiest shelves. If you can get to the store early in the day, you’ll enjoy a full selection after the restocking that most retailers do during the overnight hours, and you can browse in peace before the crowds arrive. Stress-free shopping also means you’re more likely to make responsible spending decisions, so it’s a win-win all around!
Last-minute holiday prep got you stressed? Use the tips outlined here to enjoy a stress-free and budget-friendly pre-holiday season.