During the holidays it's easy to slip into a serene bliss of food, family and flagrant disregard for your finances. Most of us don't want to worry about the economic repercussions of our holiday spending but with these few tricks you can easily keep your money matters in check and avoid the holiday hangover of overspending.
1. Cut out seemingly insignificant holiday treats, like those $5 Starbucks peppermint mochas in the mornings - your wallet and your waistline will thank you. Think of it as re-allocating your funds. By bypassing just one of those small treats each day, you can save up to $25-$35 a week that could go to your "Holiday Gift" fund.
2. Give yourself the gift of knowledge (financial knowledge that is) by downloading any of the hundreds of free, money-saving apps for your smartphone. There is an enormous amount of apps to choose from that provide guidance in everything from budgeting, to paying bills, to coupon clipping and sale reminders. My personal favorites are Ibotta (that gives you rebates on items you already purchase regularly like household essentials and allows you to deposit directly to your PayPal account) and Mint (which lets you track your financial activity for all your accounts and notes your spending habits to create a personalized budget). Find one that fits your specific financial situation and give it a go!
3. Buy your gifts in bulk. Just like stocking up on food platters for a holiday party, you can save a lot of time and money by purchasing wholesale goodies for your friends and coworkers. There are tons of thoughtful items that can be bought in large quantities that still have a personal touch, like wine, stockings, coffee mugs, holiday candles and gift cards. This is an especially great option if you have many extended friends or work acquaintances to shop for.
4. Don't neglect your portfolio. Invest in seasonal or holiday-driven companies to make the most out of this time of year. Chances are if you're spending more than usual during the holidays, so is everyone else. Use this to your advantage by buying stocks in companies that are most profitable during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's like airlines including JetBlue, retailers like Target and Amazon, and transportation companies such as UPS and FedEx. Do it before the "January Effect" kicks in and you'll be ready to ring in the New Year with a champagne toast to a temporary Bull market.
5. Avoid the money-sucking madness of holiday sales. Black Friday sales are actually a black hole in your wallet. Unless you enjoy waking up early, being trampled and buying things you didn't actually want because of the mob mentality, do your shopping in advance or immediately following those door buster sales. You'll notice that usually the day-after deals are much more rewarding, especially on Cyber Monday. In addition to a calmer shopping experience, waiting for Black Friday to pass means that whatever wasn't sold the day-of is immediately discounted at tremendous rates.