How to Not Go Broke This Holiday Season (and Beyond)

I know, I know. How are we already heading into “the most wonderful time of the year”?! But it’s time to face reality: The holiday season is here, and it’s time to make some plans. But wait. What if there was a way to plan (without actually planning) all year long for a holiday season with less stress? Or a holiday season that left time to enjoy?

Or, also very important, a holiday season where you didn’t wind up broke?! Oh, the possibilities!

Now don’t worry, there’s still time to save and to plan. Try these tips to save money — all year long — for those holiday season splurges!

1. Save your points

We all use credit cards, or some form of plastic, from time to time. More often than not, these cards have incentives — cash back, points, etc. Sometimes they even provide incentivized discounts when using those points within their app. 

For example: Let’s say you have a credit card we will call “bank.” December 1 approaches and you have 10,000 points. If you shop on “bank’s” app and use your points, you can get a $50 gift card using 4,500 points or $45 cash. First, you’re now using points you have saved all year, not using money on hand. Second, you “saved” $5 you would have spent on a $50 gift card. 

2. Buy gifts throughout the year

One of the big reasons I like to buy gifts throughout the year is it creates less stress in the form of planning and remembering. When I buy items as the year progresses, it’s not one huge haul that leaves my budget unbalanced. Instead, it’s a gift here and there, where I can pace both myself, my money, and even my energy. Furthermore, when I find an item that I know someone will enjoy, it’s one less thing to remember down the line. 

For example: We watched the movie “Paddington” earlier this year. Our daughter absolutely fell in love with this bear, and rightfully so. I even joked we should make orange marmalade. Now, what I have hidden in my closet is her very own Paddington bear — with his cute yellow boots and rain jacket. 

Not only did I save myself the time of brainstorming what to get her, I bought it while it was springtime — and the item was in stock. Best of all, it will bring back all the awesome memories of watching the movie as she squeals with excitement and recognizes Paddington.

So yes, as I see something unicorn themed, or art supplies she might like, or something fun at the $1 store for her stocking, I pick it up right then and tuck it away for when the time is right. 

3. Figure out the best time to buy

If it seems like things are more expensive during “the holidays,” it’s because they are. No really. A. Lot. While there are deals to be had around the holiday season, there are other times of year to stock up on gifts more economically.

Furthermore, a quick search on the interwebs can actually provide suggested dates throughout the year to buy particular items. Did you know that one of the best times to get deals on a TV is in February around the Super Bowl? Looking for candy to keep on hand for stocking stuffers? Prices are great on February 15 and November 1!

So save yourself time, trouble, money and energy this year. Gather your items, and hide them well. Enjoy the art of the gift, and take your time. So when holiday time does come, you can kick your feet up and actually enjoy the season. You can stay out of stores and bad weather, offline away from scammers, and know you have everything ready to go at home. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll feel like the most wonderful time of year after all. 

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Amber has lived in the Boston area (currently Cambridge) for double digits now. In previous years she spent her time commuting for auditions and SAG-AFTRA work between New York City and Boston. As of May 2020, she is mom to her daughter, with her long-time boyfriend, and their crazy and cuddly cats — a brother-sister duo named Helios and Selene, respectively. Constantly on the lookout for "ways to elevate her every day," and yours, too, she recently completed her yoga teacher training as she finds it important to find and create movement every day. Which is easy enough, with her love for and household full of music, from Biggie to Beethoven to Billie Holiday and beyond. Always keeping an eye out for creative adventures in and around New England, Amber will jump at any chance to visit the local farms to visit the goats and simply be outdoors. Otherwise, she's often found by the window, calligraphy pen in hand, practicing her favorite craft. After enjoying a hiatus from the restaurant and hospitality industry while being a SAHM mom, Amber is currently working — and learning — in the world of tech. Amber will always hype: brunch and simply ALL food, dancing — the sillier the better, travel and any chance to be at the beach. You can miss her with: cold wet weather (even though she was born in January?!) and horror movies. Look for more thoughts and musings from Amber at www.AmberMichele.com.

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