This post brought to you by Dougs and Bankrate.
The holidays are hard on the pocketbook unless you find a budget-friendly approach to spending. Everyone is a Grinch when they are broke. The little things you do will add up to extra money in the bank and more presents under the tree. This year, give to yourself, too, by figuring out some fun ways to save.
Start at Home
Holidays mean cold weather and high heating bills unless you winterize your home. Ask Santa to drop off an early gift. A programmable thermostat gives you better control over your heating system, making it more energy-efficient. You can save on your monthly utility expenses and put that money towards your holiday budget.
When the weather gets colder, walk around the house and feel for drafts. Once, you find the source of the draft, you can figure out a way to deal with it. For example, a leaky window can tack on an extra 25 percent to your heating bill. All you need to do is cover it with plastic and hang some heavy curtains to bring that number down.
Get Smart Shopping Assistance
Shopping online allows you to resist those impulse buys, too. You will find it easier to stick to your budget if the store is not tempting you will eye-catching displays. While you are shopping smart, look for online retailers offering holiday discounts and free shipping.
Go Potluck for Dinner
Image via Flickr by Stevendepolo
If you are usually the host for all the holiday dinners, this year ask everyone to bring a dish. Potluck is a nifty way to try new dishes and create some fun family traditions. Who knew Aunt Edna made the best apple pies?
Give Gifts That Really Matter
Instead of hitting the stores this year, look for other ways to give to your family. How about offering 20 hours of babysitting on demand? That is something your sister with three kids will appreciate much more than a new scarf. You can offer to mow the lawns or shovel the walk for one month or create a coupon book for each member of the family. If everyone does it, the gifts will not only be entertaining, but useful, too.
Swear Off Credit Cards
Establish a new shopping policy for gifts this year — if you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it. This forces you to set a budget and stick to it. If you do end up using a credit card, then only spend as much as you can pay off in a month.
Don’t let your spending give you the holiday blues. If you put your mind to it, you can find ways to save money and avoid the overspending that takes the joy out of your holiday season. The rest of the year will be a lot better when you see how much money you can save.