Save money during the holidays and buy that dream house in the New Year

The holidays can put a dent in your savings especially if you're planning to buy a home. But there are several ways to cut costs so your finances aren't in the red by New Year's Day. Consider the following money saving tips:

  • In lieu of buying presents for every family member, suggest a gift exchange and draw names out of a hat.
  • Agree on a spending limit for gifts for friends and family and stick to it.
  • Make your holiday meals a potluck and assign each guest an item to bring.
  • To prevent the urge to overspend when shopping, use cash and leave your credit cards at home.
  • Consider buying a joint gift rather than individual gifts for a family such as a zoo membership or movie tickets.
  • Instead of holiday wrap, buy monochromatic wrap in holiday colors such as green, red, or gold that can be used all year.
  • For young children, half the fun of holidays is often opening the gifts. Wrap small, inexpensive items separately - coloring books, crayons and picture books or novels, even stocking stuffers work well. Or recycle hand-me-down toys by wrapping them up and putting them under the tree.
  • Instead of spending a lot of money on gifts from the mall, give homemade treats like fudge, truffles, cookies or jams and jellies.
  • To cut down on postage and holiday card costs, send mail only to out-of-town friends and family you're not likely to see throughout the year. Or send e-cards, which are usually free.
  • To keep your electricity bill down, use a timer to turn outdoor lights on and off at designated hours.
  • If you know you won't be able to pay your credit card off right away, make sure you use a single low-interest card to make purchases - that way you can easily track them.
  • When traveling during the holidays, try to fly on the day of the actual holiday (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day). It's usually cheaper and there are plenty of seats.
  • Subscribe to receive e-newsletters from your favorite online merchants. They will often e-mail coupons to use for savings on purchases and shipping costs. Or subscribers may receive private sale information.
  • Sometimes buying an item online is cheaper than going to the store since many sites don't charge sales tax and offer free shipping. Use the savings to have the gift mailed directly to the recipient instead of standing in line at the post office.
  • Instead of buying an expensive gift, make a donation to a worthy cause in a friend or family member's name.

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