Expert Advice on Saving Money this Holiday Season
It's that time of year again! Time to whip out your cash or card and purchase a present or two for the people that mean the most to you in your life. However, there is a fine line between being generous and putting yourself in a ton of holiday debt.
According to the Post-Crescent, shoppers are estimated to spend anywhere between $950 and $1200 on holiday gifts alone in 2017. That's a lot of money when most people have bills, gas, and food to pay for. If possible, experts say you should do your best to not overspend so that your bank account isn't terribly upset come January.
Alan Prahl is education and marketing manager for the nonprofit Financial Information and Service Center, and Ryan Paape is a certified financial planner. The two have some great insight into doing your best to save during the spendiest time of the year.
Prahl says one of the best things you can do is set a budget for yourself. Now, that isn't limited to just gifts, this also includes food, decorations, and anything else you may need for the rest of the month.
“Write down each person’s name, gift ideas and the spending limit on them. Keep your shopping list with you," says Prahl. "Cross off gifts or names as you work through your list. Sure, you can substitute gifts if you find something even better than what’s on your list, but stick to your pre-set spending amount.”
Paape also says that one easy way to save money this holiday season while still being able to give people the gifts they deserve is to give them the gift of time or make them something special.
“Maybe you’re tech-savvy. It could be the gift of an afternoon to help parents or grandparents figure out their email and electronics. Make a homemade card and say, ‘here’s my gift to you.’ It’s unexpected. It’s something that doesn’t require money but will make a huge impact. If you’re a parent, you could take an afternoon off to go sledding or skating with a child. It’s good quality time one-on-one. Those are the types of memories that children remember forever.”
Following the tips of Paape and Prahl will help you save money during the holidays, while still being able to give your loved ones presents.
In terms of businesses, it's important to get bills and other important information out to customers on time, especially during this time of year. By using electronic billing, your customers will be able to quickly and efficiently pay their bills and won't be struggling to pay after getting a statement in the mail last minute. Electronic billing can actually help businesses lead to more responsive customers and help cut collections time.
By saving and getting bills paid on time, consumers will be able to avoid putting themselves in major debt once the holidays have come to an end.