Building snowmen, baking cookies, and hanging up twinkling lights — these are just a few of the traditions that bring a merry spirit to the holiday season. However, this cherished time of the year often comes with an unpleasant downside for many: overspending. In fact, 7 in 10 Americans report going overbudget during the holiday season.1 This trend of year-end holiday splurging has been steadily increasing year over year, with holiday retail sales reaching a jaw-dropping $936 billion last year.2 Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the impact of the holiday celebrations on your wallet so you can make the most of the cherished time you spend with loved ones.
Identifying Ways to Save
The true meaning of the holidays lies in spending quality time with close friends and family, expressing gratitude, and finding joy in special moments. While the festive season often involves gift-giving and elaborate gatherings, it’s crucial, and possible, to budget wisely. Staying within financial boundaries ensures the spirit of the holidays isn’t overshadowed by monetary stress. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to preserve the authenticity of our celebrations while allocating our resources efficiently.
Consider the following ways to reduce your spending this season without compromising the joy, love, and laughter this time of year brings.
- Prioritize Memories, Not Purchases: Cherishing moments with loved ones is a crucial element of what makes the holidays so special. Prioritizing togetherness over luxury purchases allows the focus of your gatherings to reflect the values of this festive season. When reflecting upon this time together, the shared time and experiences will resonate most—so don’t fret about the extra lavish details. If you are hosting this year at your home, consider organizing a potluck-style meal where everyone contributes their own delicious dishes to the feast. And, when planning activities for the group, take advantage of low or no-cost entertainment. These could include game nights, an at-home talent show, a holiday movie marathon, or even a tour of the free light displays and festive decorations in your neighborhood. The holidays are all about focusing on the people and experiences that are most important to us, and there is no shortage of fun activities to make memories this time of year.
- Shop Smarter: Maximizing savings while holiday shopping involves some proactive planning and strategic approaches, but the payoffs can be impressive! Start by writing a list of everything you plan on purchasing—including food, gifts, decorations, and more. Make a note of anything you may be able to buy in bulk or identify economical alternatives for to reduce costs. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales and leverage discounts offered by retailers to make purchases at opportune times. Many stores will even price match if you can find an item for a lower cost somewhere else. On top of this, make sure to utilize coupons and promo codes to take a significant chunk off the price tag. One way to stay on top of sales is by signing up for email lists or joining loyalty programs at your favorite retailers to be notified of savings opportunities. Another smart move may be to check and consolidate existing gift card balances. Instead of reaching for your wallet when you make purchases, check your stash of gift cards to see store credits you may have forgotten about. Planning ahead and being mindful of available discounts can significantly reduce the financial strain of this holiday season!
- Think Outside the (Gift) Box: The best gifts you can give are meaningful and personalized to the recipient. Getting creative with your gift-giving can provide a massive relief to your wallet, and you may just find that the presents you give are better than ever! Consider putting together DIY gifts where you can add a personal touch while being cost effective. Another option may be to give your time or expertise. Are you good at baking, giving sports lessons, or home-improvement projects? This can be a good way to demonstrate your care for others while creating more opportunities to spend quality time with those in your life. Writing letters or creating a collage of pictures can also be a low-cost way to give a thoughtful gift that your loved ones can cherish for years to come. You may also consider a gift exchange where each person brings a present for one guest, instead of a gift for each individual guest at the gathering. By being strategic and thinking outside of the box, you can express your compassion without straining your budget.
- DIY Deck the Halls: Creating a warm home environment doesn’t have to break the bank. By getting creative with items you already have around the house or low-cost alternatives, you can infuse your home with the holiday spirit without compromising on the beauty of the decorations. Consider repurposing items from around the house or spending time making DIY substitutions. This can include crafting handmade ornaments using materials like felt or paper, repurposing old jars into charming candle holders, cutting out paper snowflakes to adorn your walls or using old holiday-themed sweaters for pillowcases or festive stockings. Taking advantage of natural elements like pinecones, berries, and branches for centerpieces or other decorations will introduce a whimsical feeling into your home. And the best part of these DIY solutions? Not only are they low cost, but working on them with family members and friends can provide hours of memorable entertainment!
- Warm Your Home, Cool Your Spending: In many neighborhoods across the US, this festive time of year is marked by low temperatures and wintery storms. With your home working overtime to keep you warm, your monthly bills can take a hit. Thankfully there are a few strategies you can implement to save on your energy bill. Make sure that your windows and doors are properly sealed- this will improve the efficiency of your heaters and reduce their workload. Simple habits like turning off the lights and only running appliances like the washer/dryer and dishwasher when they are full can notably reduce electricity usage. Investing in some smart technology such as a programmable thermostat and smart power strips can pay off down the line and bring you savings for years to come.
These strategies for saving can have massive payoffs. Focusing more on creating shared experiences and time with loved ones is a beautiful way to get into the holiday spirit, and on top of that, your wallet will thank you!
Planning for Savings Ahead
Though the holiday season only lasts for a few months each year, it’s important to consider your financial well-being throughout the entire year. For adults in retirement with a reduced or fixed income, evaluating expenses can be even more important. One tool for older adults looking to enhance their retirement lifestyle is a reverse mortgage. This type of loan allows homeowners to access a portion of their home’s equity as income tax-free funds.3
The funds from a reverse mortgage can be utilized for a variety of purposes, such as offsetting healthcare costs, paying bills, and updating your home to fit new needs as you age. As long as you continue to keep up with property taxes, insurance, and home maintenance, you can use the cash to bolster your financial position and create a more comfortable retirement.
At Longbridge, our goal is to get to know your unique financial goals and help you achieve them. After all, savings strategies shouldn’t be limited to the holiday season—making smart money moves can provide benefits to you year round. Our team is here to help educate you on the many uses of a reverse mortgage so you make an informed decision that will bring joy and peace to your golden years. If you want to learn more about using the power of your home to secure financial flexibility in retirement, contact our team today!
We hope your holiday season is infused with joyous celebrations, cherished moments with family, and peaceful financial security. Happy holidays!