Budgeting

5 Holiday Savings Tips

Salvadanaio natalizio con monete

 

During the holidays, money is always in short supply and for many, budgets are tight. Below is a list of some best practices I have picked up over the years to keep myself accountable and to avoid some of the Holiday fund frustrations.

  1. Create a 50/30/20 household budget on an excel spreadsheet that you stick to and use a budget calculator to assist you in figuring out your income after tax. The idea originated from the book “All You Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. The book advises that you limit your needs to 50% of your monthly income, 30% to wants and 20% to savings and debit repayment. By definition, a need is your electric bill and your cable bill is a want.
  2. Set up a Christmas fund with your financial institution to create a ready-made saving for Christmas shopping and events out of that 30% that you are allocating for wants. Do not allocate more than 1.5 percent of your household annual income to your Christmas fund.
  3. Create a list of everyone on your gift list and create a budget per person based on the 1.5 total amount.
  4. Download an App such as Mint to track your spending. In minutes, this app provides a complete picture of your account balances and transactions together. Mint automatically pulls together all your financial information into one place. This allows you to see spending patterns, investment strategies, and budgeting views as to how well you are keeping to the 50/30/20 rule all year long in categories you create.
  5. Use GASBUDDY to help you find the cheapest gas prices for when you are filling up and heading out to your Holiday events.

These are just a few ways to be aware of your spending ability and stress-free while you are holiday shopping.

 

Budgeting

Top 4 tips for saving time and money during the holidays

Adhesive Note Papers and Calendar Pages

If you are like me, the next six weeks is packed with details, lists, shopping, and responsibilities. Keeping it all straight is always a challenge and staying on top of it all is truly an accomplishment.

Here are my Top 4 tips to saving time and money during the Holidays

1.) Create notes that are interactive and cloud-based

When it comes to jotting down notes and having it when you need it, is essential. Evernote is an indispensable tool that is available on all your devices. The glory of this program lies in its flexibility and accessibility. You can take notes, record audio, add images, and add hyperlinks. One of the ways that Evernote saves me time is that I type up the kids Christmas lists and link the items to the sites with the best price. I then share the link to kids Christmas list with family members. They do not have to download Evernote to view it and when they purchase the item they can mark the item purchased.

Evernote is cloud-based storage service that lets you store and access all of your data from any device. You can create folders called notebooks, search by keywords or organize with filters. The paid version gives you the full cloud-based features.

2.) Keep everyone on the same calendar

I use Siri on my iPhone in conjunction with the calendar provided on my IPhone to keep myself organized. I dictate event creation to Siri as well as ask her what is on my itinerary every morning. I keep my iPhone calendar as my main calendar and all family activities are shared via ICloud between my spouse and I, so we stay up to date.

3.) Don’t waste time searching for receipts

Use shoeboxed to keep track of all of your holiday shopping expenses.  Like other receipt-organizing apps, shoeboxed allows you to “scan” a receipt by taking a picture of it with your phone. It’s standout/must have feature is how it pulls email receipts from your Gmail or Yahoo account and arranges them into one convenient dashboard, sorted chronologically. So many stores send e-receipts and this program helps you collect them all in one place. This app also separates out each category of the item you purchase so you can track types of things like for kids, work, household, taxes, etc. I especially appreciate the monthly spending summaries that shoeboxed emails as well as its “return alerts,” which reminded me to hurry up if I have a return to process. Available for iOS  and droid.

4.)  Save money without wasting time or gas

Part of managing the holidays is saving money whenever possible. I do not like to collect coupons, store catalogs or conducting multiple searches to find the best prices. RedLaser is an app I use to scan product barcodes to while I am out shopping to be sure I am getting the best price. For example, if you’re at Target shopping for a WII U, and you scan the box, RedLaser will compare the price with other retail stores and tell you if you are getting the best price. I then click on the store with the cheaper price, show the cashier and get the best price without driving around.

These are my top 4 ways to save time and money during the Holidays. What tools and applications do you prefer?