You’re feeling confident about the progress you made this year on your goal to save for a house. But as the year winds down and the holiday season approaches, you suddenly find it hard to stay on track and keep up the savings momentum. You’re not alone.
According to the American Research Group, the average American plans to spend $929 on holiday gifts. And that’s just the cost of presents! Most people spend additional money on parties, charitable giving, seasonal decor, and more. With those kinds of expenses piling up, it’s hard to see how to afford the holidays while still saving for a home for sale in Denver, CO, or Sarasota, FL. Thankfully, there are a number of strategies you can employ to make room in your budget for seasonal festivities without throwing your savings goals out into the cold.
1. Communicate openly with friends and family
Saving for a house is a big undertaking. People understand it takes a lot of work, discipline, and focus to fund a down payment and afford the home you want. One way to make the holidays more affordable is simply to communicate with friends and family and let them know you’re working toward this savings goal. Explain that, financially, you can’t handle going all-out this holiday season if you want to stay on track with your home-buying plans. You can ask to do something different to celebrate if the usual is an extravagant gift exchange. People who understand and support you may need only that gentle reminder to agree.
And if you run into opposition from relatives who feel you can’t enjoy the holidays without presents, be prepared to suggest alternatives. You can offer to arrange an experience for everyone to enjoy together, like coordinating a family outing that’s either free or inexpensive — with everyone who participates paying their own way.
2. Find inexpensive ways to participate in the season of giving
Sometimes, there’s no way of entirely escaping the obligation to buy gifts during the holidays. But that doesn’t mean you need to go crazy and splurge on lavish presents at the expense of your goal to save for a home. Consider some festive ideas that will allow you to participate without blowing your budget.
For example, you could suggest Secret Santa gift exchanges (with a maximum spending limit) among your social groups, instead of buying presents for every family member, friend, and coworker you know. Or you could bake and give cookies, treats, and other holiday sweets. Also consider redeeming credit card rewards and points to obtain gifts instead of using cash.
3. Shop sales and search out coupons
The ideas above might work for some of the recipients on your gift-giving list this season. But you probably have only so many reward points to cash in, and it simply may not be appropriate to give your boss a box of homemade cookies and call it a day. If you can’t get away with this kind of gift, you may need to head to the store to buy a pricier item. But that doesn’t mean you need to pay full price.
This might take more time than simply heading straight to your favorite store, but shopping strategically can help you get gifts at lower prices. Sign up for mailing lists from retailers you want to frequent, so you catch flash sales and coupons in your inbox. (Then unsubscribe to avoid further spending temptation after you finish your holiday shopping!)
4. Rent, don’t buy, expensive attire
If there’s one time of year you’re expected to show up at black-tie events, it could be the holiday party season. Whether it’s for your company or someone else you do business with, or you just like to participate in high-end festivities thrown by organizations raising holiday funds for charity, attending seasonal parties can get pricey if you’re not careful.
While men have long had the option to rent formalwear, choices for women have been limited. Instead of buying another formal dress you’ll wear once to your company Christmas party, consider renting this year from a provider like Rent the Runway instead.
And recycle those formal clothes! You don’t need multiple outfits for multiple parties. Choose one fancy ensemble and stick to it throughout the season if you’ll attend more than one formal event. You may even be able to sell your old dresses on consignment and make some money on them (to use on Christmas presents!).
5. Trim your usual budget
Finally, if you’re in a situation where holiday spending is mandatory, cover the costs without deviating from your savings plan for a new home by cutting down elsewhere. You’ll need to adjust your normal spending to make room for this once-a-year holiday budget.
Instead of paying for entertainment this season, take advantage of all the free holiday events. You can attend tree lightings and community activities in your local area, or organize holiday potlucks with friends and family instead of going out. Even finding little savings (like saying, “yes, please” when your mom insists you take home massive amounts of leftovers), can help reduce your regular spending to allow for seasonal spending.
And in the future, set aside a bit of money each month before the holidays arrive. Even setting aside $50 a month in an account you’ll use specifically for holiday season expenses can help you manage the costs without sidetracking your other savings goals.