Christmas Shopping

5 tips to save for the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s also the most expensive-that's right, Holidays are coming! While the festive season is certainly enjoyable, it can cause a real strain on your bank account, especially if you aren’t prepared. With the countdown ticking away, we put together five top tips on how you can save efficiently and prepare yourself for the inevitable seasonal spending.

1.Make a holiday savings account

Having a savings account for any big spend is always a great idea, by making minimal deposits from each paycheck you can end up with a sizeable chunk of spending money before you know it. Many banks will allow you to open a new savings account free of charge. Another top tip is not to have an ATM card for your savings account-that way you will be less tempted to dip into it for other things.

2.Take another look at your budget and expenses

Having a budget is the perfect way to manage your money regardless of the time of year. However, in the lead the Holidays you may need to reassess it to incorporate the spending that comes as a result of the season. There is also a growing number of smartphone apps that help you create your budget and track your expenses all in the palm of your hand.

While you may anticipate the cost of just about everything to go up over the Holidays, if you shop around you may find savings in unexpected places.

Be sure not to set yourself too tight of a budget, this can actually end up hindering your efforts if you aren’t careful. Make sure you have a little bit of wiggle room for last minute gifts or unexpected expenses that might sneak up. And be sure not to forget other expenses outside of gifts-think parties, charitable donations and any travel expenses that may come as part of the season.

3.Track Your Spending

Putting a budget in place is a great idea, but it does not good if you aren’t keeping tabs on where your money is going. It’s often a  good idea to separate your Christmas spending from your day-to-day spending to make sure you don’t go overboard.

Many banks offer an app for your smartphone or tablet, making it easier than ever to keep an eye on your ingoings and outgoings.

If you prefer to keep things oldschool why not keep a note of it in a dedicated book, or even make yourself a spreadsheet to stay on track.

4.Give up a spending habit for the season

Giving up small personal luxuries might not sound like the most thrilling thing, but it is a rather noble gesture-especially if you are doing it in order to buy a gift for someone else. Whether it’s your Friday night take-out or your weekly trip to the movies, putting a stop to your ritual just for the holidays is a great way to save money without really trying.

5.Get a head start

It definitely takes some planning but getting a head start on any holiday spending is a great way to spread the cost out over time and avoid having to fork out one huge sum. If you are particularly savvy, and don’t have too many post-holiday financial woes, you can start your holiday spending a year in advance. For example, get your christmas cards and decorations in the post-Christmas sales.

If your credit card has seen some action during the festive season, start planning a credit card payoff strategy and make the best payments you can afford as soon as you can.