How to Save During the Season of Giving

The holiday season can be a stressful time, especially when you are living on a budget. These tips can help you save during the season of giving.

Travel

Heading home for the holidays? If you’re from somewhere far away, you might have to fly home. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to buying your plane tickets:

  • Make sure you clear your browser cookies before buying. If you’ve been to an airfare website multiple times, the price of the ticket will go up because they know that you’re serious about buying the ticket and will eventually have to buy it regardless of cost. If you clear your cookies, the website won’t be in your history and you can get a lower offer.
  • Purchase airfare on Tuesdays! Per airline industry standards, deals and promotions for flights are usually posted on Mondays, so by Tuesday, everyone is posting their most competitive prices, and offers tend to be lower.
  • Read the fine print. Is there an unbelievable offer on airfare prices? Then it probably really is unbelievable. If the fare is super cheap, you might still end up paying quite a bit on taxes, fees, and other surcharges that make the “special” price equivalent to non-sale prices.

If you’re driving home, you can still save money if you think ahead!

  • Know gas prices along your route. In some states, gas is cheaper than others. And even within states, there will be areas where gas can be much less expensive than it is somewhere 45 minutes away. When planning your route, know where gas stations are, and you can use a website like gasbuddy.com to find out what prices are along your route so that you can plan to use the most cost effective gas stations.
  • Consider carpooling. If you and a pal are going to the same place, ride together. You can split gas money, and you can also share driving responsibilities, making the trip less tiresome for you.

Gifts

When you buy a gift for every person you know and care about, you can end up spending a lot of money very quickly. And while you’re usually getting gifts back, that might not help you the next time you have bills to pay and you have no money because you bought your sister’s mailman a Christmas gift. Think of less expensive or alternative gift ideas!

  • Plan a secret santa or white elephant gift exchange. If you have a large family or a large friend group, and every single person buys a gift for every single other person, you can end up spending a lot. But if you do an exchange, you only have to buy one gift, and everyone will still go home with a present! It’s a great way to spend time with everyone too, because everyone has to get together to participate in the unveiling of secret santa identities or the exchange. If you want to be extra frugal, you can impose a spending limit for gifts as well so that you don’t spend as much on one person as you would have on the whole group put together.
  • Spread out your spending. You probably know in advance who you are planning on getting gifts for. So keep your eyes open all year for gifts to give! If you have ten people on your list, and plan on purchasing gifts that cost about $20 for each person, that’s $200. But it’s easier to pay $20 each month than it is to pay $200 when your credit card bill comes in January. Just hold on to the gifts you’ve bought until December, and you’ll be ready to gift exchange. This is also a great way to avoid the stress of waiting until the last minute to buy everyone a gift.
  • ​Consider making something to give as a gift instead of just going out and buying one. There are tons of DIY crafts that would make wonderful gifts, and since you made it yourself, it’s more personal.

Originally published at mumoneymatters.tumblr.com.

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