5 ways to save money for the holidays


As summer gives way to fall, you’ll probably start seeing holiday decorations going up in stores everywhere.

First, it will be ghouls and pumpkins, followed by cornucopias and fall leaves. Finally, you’ll see Christmas decorations adorn stores everywhere, and that indicates the time for buying gifts.

But if you wait until November and December to begin saving, you’re not likely to have enough for the Christmas you pictured. The average American family spends just under $1,000 on holiday gifts and another $1,000 on parties and travel.

If you want a fabulous holiday season with all the best gifts, parties, trimmings, and vacations, you need to apply savings techniques now. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Know Your Credit Score

Now is a great time to check your credit score. Some institutions will make you pay for a glimpse at your score, but through websites such as Credit Sesame, you can get a free credit score check that won’t hurt your credit in any way. It will show you your credit standing and give some suggestions for improving it.

Your credit score factors in a variety of financial indicators including your debt-to-income ratio, outstanding balances, loans, and bills. It focuses stringently on your payment history. Late payments equal a penalty on your credit score and on-time payments keep your credit in good standing.

If you have a good credit score, getting a loan or increasing your credit card balance is much easier. A bad credit score will slow down the process and increase the amount of rejections you receive.

Lenders also use your credit score to determine the interest rate you’ll receive on a loan. For example, a person with credit above 750 is likely to receive the lowest interest rates on the market for their car loan while a person with credit rates between 650 and 750 will receive higher rates.

Cell phone companies also use your credit score when you create a new account, and landlords when you’ve applying for an apartment. If you’re denied a rental, it might be because of your credit score.

Knowing your credit score ahead of time is a huge advantage to you. It helps you be proactive when making big purchases for the holidays. Those with lower credit scores will need to shop around more to find a loan or deal that applies to them in their current credit situation.

If you know your credit score, you can also take steps to improve it. A low score can be improved over time with steady, on-time payments. It will raise your score incrementally, and eventually, your biggest financial indiscretions will disappear from your credit report completely.

You’ll probably end up using your credit cards a little during the holidays. You might even take out a loan for a car or a vacation. So, looking into your credit score can help you get the best rates and help you save money on these big purchases.

Plan a Local Holiday Vacation

Christmas in Cancun sounds pretty heavenly, but overseas travel and staying at a fancy resorts don’t come cheap. If it’s not in the budget, look somewhere a little closer to home. There are incredible destinations all over the United States, just waiting for you to discover them.

If you live in the Midwest, check out Michigan’s capital, Lansing. Christmastime in Lansing is a beautiful event in a winter wonderland. During November before Thanksgiving, they’ll have the Silver Bells in the City festival. They’ll begin lighting the city with festive lights, Christmas trees, and Silver Bells Village. There are also fireworks over the Capitol dome and live entertainment.

In December, you’ll find carriage rides, ice-carvings, pictures with Santa, holiday farmers markets, arts and crafts shows, historic Christmas villages, ice skating, and more all over the city. If you’re looking for festive holiday cheer, visit Lansing, MI.

Lansing isn’t the only great place throughout the country worth visiting at Christmas. Check out New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Christmas Town USA, and other cities that are decked out for the holidays. These destinations are not the same as a trip to the beaches of Mexico, but it’s great for the budget traveler who loves snow and holiday cheer.

Prepare to Buy a Used Vehicle

A car makes a great holiday gift, whether you’re giving it to your significant other or your teenager. However, this is one of the most expensive gifts around the holiday season, and you’ll want to do a little preparation before wrapping the keys in a decorative box.

After getting to know your credit score and making plans to improve your credit, go ahead and get pre-approved for a loan. This will tell you how much you can afford in a vehicle while still keeping your debt-to-income ratio low.

Remember that you can always get a loan for a lesser amount if you want to keep your monthly payments low. Set a realistic budget with online car affordability calculators and a thorough overview of your monthly expenses and spending.

Next, find a trusted car dealership where you can go car shopping. A dealership usually means better service and a broader selection than a private party. If you’re in the Midwest, consider a car dealership in North Olmsted, OH. You’ll find great deals and excellent customer service personnel to help you navigate your purchase.

As you search for the perfect car, don’t be drawn in by a tricky salesman trying to make a high commission. Go for a used car, preferably one that’s just a year or two old. You’ll get a great price with many of the modern luxuries of brand new cars.

Remember, there’s always room to negotiate a price, even on a brand new vehicle. If you think a car is worth less than the sticker price, employ negotiation tactics to bring down the cost.

Do Preventative Household Maintenance

One of the best ways to save money is to prevent huge disasters before they occur. Look around your house and find areas that need improvement.

For example, the fall and winter can be a pretty wet time for those in the Midwest and South. While it’s still dry, contact someone about waterproofing your basement. This will prevent flooding during rainy months and will keep your property safe.

Consider the cost-saving benefits of updating siding, windows, doors, and other exterior features as well. You’re likely to save big on utilities with the right updates to these essential household fixtures. Additionally, getting warranty coverage for your major appliances and systems can save you a lot of money by covering the costly repairs or replacements if anything goes wrong. This way, you can save money for holiday shopping instead of unexpected repair bills

Save a Little Each Month

You can be totally prepared for the holiday season without going into debt if you’re willing to invest in savings throughout the entire year. If you put away $100 per month starting in January, you’ll have more than $1,000 saved by the time December rolls around.

Even if you start saving in August, you’ll still decrease your credit card spending and increase your financial freedom before the holiday season. It’s always easier for your budget to absorb huge expenses over the course of several months than it is to do it in one fell swoop.

Because most Americans typically spend the four to six months after Christmas paying off their credit cards, all of these savings tips are smart financial steps for you. You’ll have all the perks of a fun holiday season without the huge pile of debt at the end of it.