Pretty penny: Expert advice on saving during the holidays
If there is ever a time you want to find a great bargain and shop smart, it’s fall and winter. The holiday season is just around the corner and you’ll likely be spending a significant amount on gifts, food, decorations and charitable donations. However, more routine costs don’t go away, so how do you enjoy this season and make your dollars stretch from now through the end of the year? Here are five simple ideas.
Check your calendar
From fall tailgating to holiday cocktail parties, this time of year can be a very social time. If you’re eating out a lot, remember to cut back your own grocery shopping accordingly. If you have multiple holiday get-togethers in a week, you may be able to cut your grocery bill by a third.
Earn while you shop
Look for cash-back deals that allow you to earn while you shop. Programs like BankAmeriDeals allow Bank of America customers to choose cash-back deals from participating retailers through their online banking accounts and mobile banking apps. The cash back you earn is automatically credited to your account the following month. Finding deals and programs such as this can help you save big bucks.
Presentation is everything
When it comes to gift giving, presentation is everything. A well-presented, modestly priced gift can be far lovelier than a pricier item that's poorly packaged. Take the time to wrap the item in decorative paper, a gift bag with tissue or cellophane, an affordable favorite of mine. Nice ribbon can also go a long way. Buy it in bulk when it's on sale at a fabric store.
Have a shipping strategy
If you are doing a lot of online shopping, take advantage of free shipping. For example, Amazon Prime allows you to ship to multiple addresses free of charge. Priced at $79, the program pays for itself pretty quickly.
Establish an ongoing routine to ensure you're keeping track of your finances. Online banking and mobile banking apps allow you to manage your balance, transfers and deposits. A smart routine will help you stay on budget and avoid potentially expensive mistakes or misunderstandings when things get hectic during the holidays. Consider setting up text alerts to warn you and/or others in your family when bank balances dip below certain levels, which can happen when everyone is out shopping at the same time and drawing on the same account.