The holidays can be a strain on many household budgets, as Americans plan to spend more on gifts this season than they have in eight years.
According to a new Gallup survey, consumers said they will spend an average of $830 on gifts for the 2015 holiday season, which is up sharply from $720 a year ago. The average anticipated spending rises to $908 when people, who won’t spend anything on the holiday (eight percent), are excluded. Thirty percent said they will be spending $1,000 or more.
If the holidays have become too expensive, there are ways to make the season more affordable. Here are eight holiday spending tips:
1. Limit your gift list. If you typically buy presents for people well beyond your immediate family, consider trimming the list. Do you really need to buy gifts for individuals like your brother-in-law, cousins and your next-door neighbor?
If going cold turkey on gift giving will be problematic, consider asking your relatives to draw names so the gift obligation will be reduced dramatically. Your loved ones will probably be relieved to limit the gifts.
2. Use price comparison sites. Want to see the prices for a cashmere sweater or your child’s must-have video game? There are many online resources that can generate quick lists of prices for any merchandise including PriceGrabber, Google Shopping and Shopzilla.
3. Organize potlucks. You can entertain without busting your budget by asking your guests to bring dishes to gatherings.
4. Create a budget. Establish how much you can reasonably spend and stick with it. As part of the budget, consider talking to your family and suggest a price cap on all gifts.
5. Look for last-minute discounts. If you procrastinate too long, you can find even further discounts. For instance, Dec. 21 is often the last day you can shop online and still get the presents delivered by Christmas. The deadline can come with last-minute discounts to nudge tardy shoppers.
5. Shop year-round. If you look for presents throughout the year, you are more likely to find some tremendous bargains. You can also spread the cost over many months, which can make the purchases more affordable.
6. Book reservations early. If you are flying for the holidays, you may find cheaper prices if you book many months in advance. Set up price alerts to let you know when airline tickets to a particular city are on sale through sites like Yapta and Airfarewatchdog.
7. Buy used. It can be so much cheaper to buy gifts on eBay or Craigslist. For many gifts it won’t matter whether the item is new or not.
8. Make homemade gifts. You can generate tons of ideas by spending time on the Internet. There are plenty of YouTube videos to provide instructions.