Regardless of how strong your finances might be, holiday gift shopping can put a dent in your savings. Along with all the other plans you may be making over this holiday season, one of the more important things you can do for yourself is conduct a financial check-up. Taking this step before you get started on shopping can help ensure you do not hamper your year-end savings goals while shopping for loved ones. In addition to a financial check-up, consider these top five ways to save during the holiday season.

1. Proper Planning Means Better Execution

For most holiday shoppers, one of the most devastating habits is waiting until the last minute to pick up gifts. Shoppers who create a list of gift recipients and get started early will generally find they save more money, because they avoid impulse buying. Having a list of recipients and an anticipated dollar amount you plan to spend on each one can help reduce stress and save money.

2. Smart Shopping Means Better Savings

It is often tempting to purchase the “latest and greatest” gadget or toy for a loved one during the holiday season. But take the time to research products online before you head to the store. In some cases, you may get more for your dollar by purchasing gifts online during “Cyber Monday” or by taking advantage of free shipping deals many online retailers offer. For those who are willing to brave the crowds, Black Friday is an option as well; just do not blow your shopping budget on sales that are not really sales.

3. Keeping Finances at the Forefront

As part of your pre-holiday financial check-up, you took the time to determine how much money would be allocated to gifts. Before you start shopping, however, take the time to consider how you will pay for each gift. Chances are you will be using credit cards. Rather than pay off holiday debts in “increments” which adds to the cost of your gift-giving, make a plan to pay any items you add to credit card off in full. Make sure you review your credit card statements and determine which ones charge the lowest interest rates; this will also save money if you are unable to pay the balance in full before the next billing cycle.

4. Keeping the Spirit of Giving Alive

Keep in mind that expensive gifts are not the only options with holiday gift-giving. Double-check your shopping list and decide whether it is necessary to actually purchase an item for someone on your list. In some cases, you may find a homemade meal, scarf and gloves or other handmade item is more appropriate. For some gift recipients, the gift of time, which is truly priceless, may be more appreciated than some expensive item they may not want or need.

5. Be Good to Yourself This Holiday, Too

We often spend so much time planning for a great holiday for our friends and family that we overlook one of the most important gift recipients: ourselves. The holidays are a great time to consider booking a luxury cruise or a weekend getaway. Holidays mean fewer people are heading on vacation and that often means great deals on hotel rooms, cruises and other vacations. If you enjoy traveling, make sure you take advantage of these lower prices on vacation packages to save big.
The holiday season is a great time to spend time with friends and family but it does not mean you have to spend thousands of dollars purchasing gifts. Paying close attention to your gift list and deciding what the most appropriate gifts might be early on can mean saving a lot of money during the holiday shopping season. Don’t forget to schedule an end-of-year financial check-up with the team at First Coast Wealth Advisors.