Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Money-saving tips for the holidays

Published:Monday | December 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Tamara Waul-Douglas
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The festive season is without a doubt a favourite time of the year for many.

It's that time of the year when families come together and we reconnect with old friends. It's also the season of gift giving, charity, parties, decorating, and treating family, friends and clients.

However, while the season glistens with all these festivities, we all know that come January, many of us find ourselves in debt and broke. To make matters worse, many of us get paid early in December, so it's a longer period. This year, while we try to keep the season cheerful, let's be sensible about our money, so that the new year doesn't find us with empty pockets.

Here are few tips to ensure that we stretch that dollar into the new year.

1. Make a list and check it twice

• Make a list of the things you need to buy, and the food you need to prepare for the festive season. Having a list will help you plan your spending and keep from overspending.

• Plan your presents - list who you're buying for, what you want to buy, and how much money you've allocated for each person.

• Supplies for Christmas/Boxing Day - Buy in advance, where possible, to take advantage of specials if any are available.

• If you are travelling - Shop around for deals early so that you can get the most economical deals in advance.

2. Shop around

Don't wait for a sale, seek out your holiday bargains on gifts and food at your local suppliers. Don't be afraid to ask for a discount as you might just get a holiday miracle!

3. Put it on your credit card and reward yourself.

If you have a rewards card that you have been using throughout the year to collect points, the festive season is a great time to cash these in. Check your balance and see what you can get. Leading up to the holidays, keep an eye out for items that earn you more points so that you can build up your balance. Hint, hint ... look into a Sagicor Bank MasterCard.

4. Gift wisely!

We have to learn to gift wisely. Rather than spending big to fill those shopping carts online with Christmas gifts, get creative. Here are some ideas:

• Give a gift of food: If you're a creative phenom in the kitchen, why not make something from the heart to give and create a personal, tasty treat?

• Do it yourself: Get crafty and make a personalised gift using things you already have - there are plenty of ideas online.

• Set a present limit - Suggest to your family or friends that you all set a limit on how much you will spend on gifts for each other to keep your gift budget at a reasonable level.

5. Track your spending

Keeping track of your spending is the best way to avoid going over your budget this season. Just always remember - there's an app for that.

6. Think ahead, plan for Christmas 2017

Once this holiday season is done and dusted off, you should plan ahead for next year. Here are some ideas to give you a head start for next year's festive season:

• Start saving now: Open a savings account (Sagicor Bank has a few options) in January, and contribute a small amount to it every payday. Saving a minimum of $100 per week will add up to more than $5,000 in a year's time.

• Shop the sales: Shop for presents throughout the year, especially during sales times or at the various events, like Market on the Lawn and other fairs. This shrinks your cost and spread your money to make it more manageable.

• Tamara Waul-Douglas is the branch manager for Sagicor Bank Hope Road and Liguanea branches.