Make Your Money Work for You During the Holiday Season
December 8, 2023
The holidays are quickly approaching, so now is a great time to create an action plan and end the year strong. This time of year tends to be on the expensive end for most people. The importance of keeping your personal finances in check has never been more crucial than this year. Evaluating how much to budget can help provide a clearer picture of where you stand in the new year. To avoid being a victim of overspending, here are some ways you can prepare and make your money work for you.
Start Early to End On Top
In the face of a worldwide pandemic, the tradition of Black Friday and getting the best deals has taken a back seat in recent years. Many popular retailers have announced store closures again this year for Thanksgiving. Rather than having crowds busting down doors and invading sales floors, many stores are starting their sales early with daily-weekly specials. A lot of them offer in-store or curbside pick-up to add even more convenience and time back into your schedule. But, before jumping in to grab that hot toy or other wish-list favorites, incorporate some comparative shopping tactics to see what place will have the best deal. A great way to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck is by filtering through the emails companies send you:
- Retailers will send promotional or discount codes along with already slashed prices to stack on the savings.
- Some deals might be mailing list exclusive, so you’ll be able to score deals the public will miss out on.
There are other awesome tools you can install in your web browser to automatically save you money by scanning the web for coupons if your inbox gets too heavy to handle. These tools will also provide you with prices that you can then compare with all major retailers, so you’ll be sure you’re getting the best price around.
If you’re loyal to certain merchants, but another store has a better deal, check their company page to see if they price match competitors. Many stores will even price match items already purchased to ensure that you’ll get the lowest price guaranteed. It’s essential to keep track of all receipts when you plan to swap for a price match. That way you'll be ready when returning to the store to make adjustments.
For even better organization, have a binder handy with separately labeled folders to keep receipts and lists intact so you can easily refer back to them when needed. You should also use paper clips to keep your receipts organized by date, so you know how much you spent and when. Lists will also help make sure you aren’t buying the same things twice on accident. Maintaining proper organization is key, especially for those with large families, as you need to make sure you have all your bases covered.
Spend Money On Your Health
With the frenzy of gift-giving, it’s also important to keep your health in check by having all the essentials on hand. If you have money in a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account, make sure to spend any available balances to avoid paying out-of-pocket. FSA funds don’t roll over into the new year unless stated otherwise by your employer. Thus, it's best to spend any remaining cash before it disappears.
Either way, FSA/HSA can help you cover plenty of medical expenses that go beyond copays. For starters, people who need a prescription for contact lenses, or another form of eyewear, can use their accounts to cover these purchases. You don’t have to worry about running out either because you can order your contacts online using your HSA/FSA dollars with a simple click of a button. With this, you’ll cut out the middle-man by having them directly shipped to you, as well as reduce any additional trips to the store. A major perk from this form of shopping is that you’ll be saving time and money by avoiding idling in holiday traffic and burning gas just for your contacts.
You should also factor in the changing seasons and incoming cold weather since they can make even the healthiest person sick. Aside from vision correction supplies, you can also use your FSA dollars to buy a variety of cold and flu products. Around this time of year, you’ll often find store shelves get wiped out as everyone stocks up their go-to relief medications. Getting sick puts a damper on holiday plans, so do yourself a favor by having your medicine cabinet ready when the time comes. Cold medicines can be pretty costly, so thankfully a lot of the manufacturers offer printable coupons that can help save a few bucks. You can also save even more by buying the store-brand alternative, as they use the same ingredients to keep even the worst symptoms at bay.
Save With Holiday Food Essentials
Inflation has hit grocery stores hard with food prices drastically rising. If you’re hosting any holiday dinner this year, set aside a weekly grocery budget and try to buy holiday staples such as turkeys or hams in advance. You can keep them frozen if you’re able to score an early deal closer to the specific holiday. Save even more money by inquiring within the store about a member or loyalty program. Many grocery retailers often provide generous discounts for loyalty cardholders on key items.
Despite the rising food costs, we’re also facing product shortages on a lot of items. If you’re able to, buy items with long shelf lives now and set them aside in the pantry until needed. Or, make hosting easier by having a potluck-styled party. Potlucks are when you have all your guests come to the party and have them bring a dish to serve during the meal. This way you won’t have to break the bank by making all the food, which in turn leaves less time in the kitchen. That way you can spend more time with your guests and remain the life of the party!
As we begin to spend time with our loved ones this holiday, just remember you’re not the only one having to be more conservative about their spending. Take pride in knowing that above all else, being with family and friends is by far the most important part of this season. Holiday planning can be time-consuming and stressful, but taking the extra steps and keeping an eagle eye on the best deals will help you save more money in the long run.