Why use a good idea only one time per year?

Using Holiday Habits to Save Money All Year Round

by Pauline Milner

Over the years, we have all developed ways to save time and money over the holidays. With a little tweaking, many of these time- and money-saving traditions can be adapted into methods that we can benefit from year round. For example, we make a list and stick to it to avoid going over budget for our holiday shopping. We should use a list whenever we shop not just to avoid overspending but to also guard against impulse buys.

If you utilize the following suggestions that have grown from the modification of common holiday saving practices, you can add more time to your day and keep more funds in your bank account throughout the year.

As the holiday season approaches, many people do extra baking in order to provide special treats for their guests. Knowing that ingredients needed for baking are expensive, many people pick up a few of these items during their weekly shopping trips long before they are needed, thus avoiding one very pricey grocery bill to buy them all at once. When ingredients are on sale that you use for family meals like casseroles, stews and soups, pick up extra quantities so you can make a couple of extra dishes to freeze for use on those nights when you want to serve a home-cooked meal but do not have the time needed for preparation.

Related: Knowing When and How to Stockpile Groceries

Tree sellers drop their prices by as much as 75% on December 24th. Bargain hunters make Christmas Eve tree decorating a treasured family activity. If you recognize that tree sellers would rather forfeit bigger profits as opposed to having to haul their left over trees away, you will want to check the classifieds for moving sales when you are in the market for big ticket items like furniture and appliances. People that are relocating, just like the tree sellers, are motivated to sell. Moving is expensive and the cost can be determined by weight. People would rather sell their washer, dryer, refrigerator, or leather sofa set than pay a moving company an exorbitant amount to ship them to their new residence. Also, the quality and age of the household offerings are better than what you would likely find at a yard sale or used furniture store.

If you are engaging in the latest decorating trend toward LED (light emitting diodes) lights, you have found an efficient way to conserve energy and lower your power bill. Incandescent bulbs are being phased out and LEDs are even better than the popular CFLs (compact fluorescent light). Recent studies have shown the total operational cost over 23 years, which includes the price of the bulb plus electricity consumption, to be $201 for incandescent bulbs, $48 for CFLs, and $38 for LEDs.

Related: Frugal Interior Lighting Choices

Data has shown that 46% of people bought some Christmas gifts online last year with total spending at $616 billion. When not specifically shopping for presents, only 24% of purchasers shop on the Internet at least once a month. Great savings are delivered all year to your inbox, but likely go straight to the trash folder until it is time to start Christmas shopping. Investing a few minutes to peruse the deals and special offers from online retailers can convert to substantial savings that are kind to your budget.

When you do shop in stores, always bring a list and stick to your budget the same as you do when shopping for Christmas presents. Retailers are geniuses when it comes to enticing you to spend more than you intended and design their floor space in a way that encourages impulse buys. Do not let them outsmart you and never shop when you are hungry.

Related: 7 Ways Retailers Know What You're About to Buy

Those that want to avoid frost bitten fingers and climbing a ladder with snow on the ground put up their outdoor lights and decorations early. Knowing that the weather is bound to get cold and nasty, they plan and get their exterior holiday chores done early. Property owners know that there will be regular home maintenance costs every year with the possibility of more expensive repairs or upgrades. At an average cost of 1% of a home's value, if you put aside money from every pay check, you will have the funds available when the inevitable maintenance and more costly expenses arise. Avoid interest charges on a loan or credit card by having the money tucked safely away in a savings account for when it will be needed.

As evidenced by the preceding ideas, with some ingenuity, you can always discover techniques that are able to be modified to save you additional time and money, which are commodities we all wish we had more of. When you find a formula that works in one area, you should always "zoom out" and determine how it could be modified to assist in providing savings elsewhere.

Reviewed December 2017

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