Bills.com Shares Tips for an All-Cash Holiday
As the economy continues to falter, Bills.com provides consumers with two-pronged strategy for saving money during upcoming holiday season
Low consumer confidence and less than expected back-to-school spending are reliable indicators that consumers plan to be conservative with their wallets this holiday shopping season. To help those planning to shop on a budget, consumer money resource Bills.com today shared tips for an all-cash holiday shopping season. "The holidays are a difficult time for those on a budget because they want to share in the season with loved ones, but they must also watch every dollar closely," said Ethan Ewing, president of Bills.com. "The best way to avoid headaches this year is to plan for an all-cash holiday. It will leave you with no debt but plenty of holiday cheer." To begin saving for an all-cash holiday, Bills.com recommends a two-pronged approach:
1. Begin Saving Now:
Identify the ways in which you can reduce your monthly spending now to put money away towards your holiday budget later.
- Dial back your cell phone plan: By reducing your plan to the next tier of minutes or limiting the number of texts you send for the next three months you can save a substantial amount of money. Rely more on email or a landline for this short period while you save for the holidays.
- Brown bag it: Eating out every day for lunch can lead to big expenses. Packing a lunch at home uses a fraction of the dollars and can save hundreds of dollars over the next three months.
- Grab office freebies: For those in the know, the office provides some simple ways to save money every day. Drink free kitchen coffee instead of buying a latte or patronize the water cooler instead of buying a bottle of water.
- Bike it or bus it: Put the car in the garage for the next few months in favor of your bike or public transportation. In addition to saving money on gas and parking expenses, you could even get some extra exercise.
- Cut the cord: By opting for free online content or low dollar subscription services like Netflix instead of hefty monthly cable or satellite television bills, consumers can save hundreds of dollars between now and the holiday season.
- A coupon lifestyle: Break out the coupons to shave money off your grocery bill. Search online and in the newspaper for ways to find additional savings.
- Find cheaper entertainment: Consider Redbox for new DVD releases instead of heading to the movie theater. For avid readers, save the cost of a new book by visiting your local library.
- Automate and forget it: To make sure that this savings remains saved, open up an automatic savings account. Craft a budget to determine your potential savings and then have it automatically taken from your paycheck or checking account.
2. Shop Smart:
With cash in hand, you can use these strategies to better handle your holiday wish list, saving you time, money and stress to better enjoy the holiday season.
- Make a list and set a budget: List the people you plan to buy gifts for, the type of gifts you plan to buy, and how much you plan to spend. Include the cost of cash gifts, holiday travel, extra food, wrappings, decorations, greeting cards, and postage.
- Buy early: Avoid the holiday crush by shopping for gifts early. You’ll often find that they can be cheaper this far in advance and that hot gift items are still on the shelf.
- Look for price-matching policies: Some merchants will match, or even beat, a competitor’s prices. Talk to your local retailers to see if they can match or beat an online price.
- Go online: Take advantage of price comparison websites and mobile shopping applications. If you decide to buy from an online merchant, keep shipping costs and delivery time in mind.
- Beware package deals: Carefully consider bargain offers that are based on the purchase of additional merchandise (i.e. "Buy one, get one free" or "Free gift with purchase"). If you don’t need the extra item, it’s not a deal.
- Layaway is new again: Take advantage of store layaway plans. It’s an interest-free way to buy larger items this year and also make sure that the hot gift you want is still in stock.
- Leave the credit card at home: Now that you’ve saved up a large cash reserve and purchased most of your items already, be sure to leave the credit card at home for any last minute store visits. You’ll avoid temptation and stay on budget with only your debit card or checkbook.
- Ship early. If you’re sending gifts to out-of-towners, factor in extra time for shipping. If you wait until the last minute, you may pay a hefty price for express or overnight shipping.
"Plan to save now and shop smart for an all cash, no credit holiday that will help you avoid a holiday financial hangover," continued Mr. Ewing. For more tips on holiday shopping or to ask a Bills.com financial expert your money question, visit .