According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $680 billion during the holidays, and the average family will be shelling out $660 on gifts, toys and other holiday items.
If you’ve already done a ton of shopping during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it’s important to make sure you don’t go overboard before Christmas and wind up in debt in the New Year.
So here are four ways to shop smart the rest of the holiday season, entertain family members and decorate your home – all while staying on a reasonable budget.
Tip #1: Try the ‘Family Gift’ Technique
For a nice way to entertain, while also being frugal, don’t be afraid to identify gifts that the whole family can benefit from. When you use this technique, you’re able to make one meaningful purchase as opposed to buying several expensive gifts.
Example: buy a family pack of movie theater tickets to let everyone go see the latest blockbuster movie during the holidays. That will get everyone out the house and out of each other’s hair; very important if guests are staying with you over the holidays!
For some in-door family fun, you can buy a board game or two that provide hours of entertainment for relatives and guests of all ages. Get something age appropriate – that kids, teens and adults can enjoy. Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue and Jumanji are good options.
Tip #2: Practice the ‘Sell One, Then Buy One’ Method
Before buying expensive technology and gadgets – like Apple’s new iPhone X, Microsoft’s Xbox One or the Sony Play Station 4 (PS4) – first sell the old tech you have that you no longer want, use or need.
The average household has 7 old devices just lying around the house and those items could be sold for cash, helping you to save money on any new items you buy or just get some much-needed funds for the holidays.
Go to the website Decluttr.com or get their free app in order to sell your old tech, like cell phones, tablets and video game consoles, for top prices.
Right now, Decluttr is paying more than $100 for the X-Box 1, about $150 for the PS4 and around $350 to $400 for iPhone 7 and 8 models. Just ship them your items free and Decluttr pays you the day after they receive your tech.
Tip #3: Create a ‘Drama-Free’ Drink Zone
If you’re entertaining or hosting a holiday gathering, you know that food and drinks can get costly – especially when you’re purchasing wine, beer or hard liquors.
Be smarter about your beverage choices and opt for a no-alcohol celebration. You’ll not only save money: you could also save everyone from some family drama!
We all have that one relative who can act up when he or she drinks a bit too much, so replace the alcohol with a different bubbly: Martinelli’s sparkling cider drink.
If entertaining in a 100% alcohol-free zone would be totally impossible for your family, at least diminish the alcohol levels by substituting in two ways. First, having bottles of sparkling mineral water, like Perrier, is a good way to substitute; it will also be appreciated by anyone watching their weight during the holidays.
But if you absolutely MUST have alcohol, skip the Moet, Dom Perignon and pricey champagnes. Get a nice Italian Prosecco instead. It’s still a bubbly, sparkling wine, but Prosecco is a substitution that costs only 1/4th of the price of champagne! For instance, you can get good Prosecco at Costco for only $7 to $12 a bottle.
Tip #4: Decorate With the Right Bling
Many people want to spruce up their homes for the holidays or decorate in style. There’s nothing wrong with that but you really don’t need to buy high-end, expensive decorations to make a good impression.
Instead focus on one main area: lighting. You can really jazz up your home in festive and affordable ways by using lights strategically to bring the right kind of bling.
A few ideas: ivory candles add charm and warmth to a fireplace mantle or any room.
Traditional Christmas lights, especially mini-lights, can be put in clear mason jars or glass vases and placed in key areas around the house.
Lastly, a lovely homemade table centerpiece can be made from pinecones and tea lights.
All of these items you can literally get from stores like Target, Hobby Lobby, or even Dollar Tree, including candles; mason jars and vases; Christmas lights and tea lights; pine cones, and more.
By following these four tips, you’ll be a much smarter holiday shopper – and you’ll entertain the family wisely without letting your spending get out of control.