Creating Your Holiday Gift Budget

With the holidays looming, you might find that your holiday gift budget is a little more stretched than usual. Read on to discover a few common sense tips that will help you save for this special time of the year.

Creating Your Holiday Gift Budget

A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way

By being a smart shopper every day, you will have more to spend when the holidays come around. Here are some easy steps to more savings.

  • When it’s time to go grocery shopping, make a list. Get into the habit of only shopping for the items on your list and leave impulse purchases at the door.
  • Do your online research in advance of a big shopping trip. When you know where the bargains are, you will save yourself a whole heap of time, effort and frustration.
  • Make shopping rewarding. Use store coupons and rewards cards and sign up for email campaigns that will send advance details of sales.
  • Pay yourself first! Grant yourself a weekly allowance and shop for necessary items guilt free. By paying yourself a weekly or monthly allowance you will avoid the very real temptation of a retail therapy blowout.

Basic Steps To Big Savings

There are many small measures you can take to reduce your bills and help you save for the holidays. When you leave your apartment for the day, remember to unplug all electrical items making sure that you don’t spend anymore on your electrical bill than you have to. This tiny step goes a long way to reducing your electric bill over the course of a year.

When you go to work, adopt a “cash free” day where you go about your day-to-day business without spending a single penny. This is easier than it sounds with a modicum of forward planning: plan your lunches around what’s already in the pantry or the fridge, and take a (reusable) bottle of water with you. Then make sure to put away the equivalent money you would have spent into a savings account.

Now that you have adopted basic budget saving tips into your day-to-day life, you will have a clearer idea of how much you have to spend on your holiday gift budget.

Holiday Shopping Tips

When it’s time to go shopping for your chosen gifts, take cash only. This important step will prevent you from being tempted to use credit to make your purchases. Adopt a stealth-like approach to your shopping trip, planning in advance the stores you intend to visit. Don’t be distracted from your mission; instead, make the purchases you have decided upon in advance. If necessary, you can always go back later and buy that impulse present if there is enough left over in your budget.

Use the envelope system for shopping trips. Make out a new envelope for each person on your list and place in the exact amount needed for their chosen present. Then if the product is further discounted at the cash register, you can put the extra money into a contingency fund.

If you choose to do your holiday shopping online from the comfort of your own apartment, keep an eye open for useful promotions such as free shipping codes or buy-one-get-one-free offers.

Finally, if you are forced to put your holiday shopping onto a credit card, it’s always a good idea to put it on one that will benefit you and your wallet. Use cards that offer cash back with every purchase.

For more advice on money matters, follow Apartment Guide on Twitter.

Pin this post:

How to Create a Holiday Gift Budget

Photo Credit: Scott Miller

5 Apartment Essentials for $5

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Dorm rooms are filling up with eager students and young adults are moving into their very first apartments.

It’s pretty tempting to head straight to Target and fill up a cart (or two) with all the things you so desperately want need. But not so fast! You should adopt a habit of smart shopping, buying as many essentials as you can for just a buck at your local discount chain.

Allow us to demonstrate…

Continue reading

Hidden Gems: America’s Most Affordable Cities (Infographic)

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Click on the image to view the full infographic.

Big-city living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only will you find plenty of small-town charm if you live in a less populated town; you’ll also save money. Apartment Guide found America’s most affordable cities — the top 10 cities with the least expensive median rent prices — and we dug up a few cool facts about these hidden gems as well.

1. FlorenceMuscle Shoals, AL

Median rent: $395

Named after the city in Italy, the northwestern Alabama town of Florence not only boasts the cheapest rent in the nation; it’s also the home of the University of North Alabama. Music lovers are in luck; artists from all over the country come to Florence each summer for the W.C. Handy Music Festival. It originally focused on blues and jazz, but now includes rock, gospel, country and more.

Continue reading

Craigslist vs. eBay: Where Should You Sell Your Stuff?

There’s no way around it – you need extra cash. While selling blood plasma may have crossed your mind, there are easier ways to pad your bank account. Have you thought about selling stuff that you no longer want or need online?

ebay vs. craigslist

From furniture to textbooks and even the most random knick knacks, you’d be surprised what people are willing to pay for the stuff you’ve long neglected. The hard part may be determining the best vehicle for getting your stuff into a buyer’s hands. Craigslist and eBay are two notoriously popular options, but which one is right for you? Apartment Guide explains the good and the bad of each.

Continue reading

New Year, New Budget! How to Stay Financially Fit in 2014 (Infographic)

Click the image to view the full infographic.

Click the image to view the full infographic!

It’s the kind of cliche that exists for a reason: are you already planning to do a better job following a budget in the New Year?

If your credit card bills are telling you that you overspent during the holidays, take a look at our tips for getting – and staying! – financially fit in 2014.

Apartment Guide has teamed up with LearnVest, an award-winning financial planning company, to share some useful budgeting tips on how to spend less and save more this year.

We’ve also dug through our data to find the top 10 most budget-friendly metros for affordable apartment living in 2014.

Our recent budget survey found that a majority of people who are moving opt to do the work themselves — without hiring a moving company – and they are spending less than $1,000 on the entire move. One in three renters plan to spend more on entertainment at home in their apartments this year, however. (Maybe that’s where the moving money is going?)

On that subject, LearnVest notes that the average American spends over $900 a year on cable. You might consider a less-expensive option to get access to your favorite shows, like HuluPlus or Netflix, instead.

Continue reading

Sweep Away Bad Budgeting Habits With a Saving Plan

We won't claim that saving is fun, but here are a few tips that jsut might help make it a little less painful! Here's to saving in 2014!

We won’t claim that saving is fun, but here are a few tips that  might make it a little less painful. Here’s to saving in 2014!

It’s far too easy to blow your budget over the holiday season.

Between the presents, the parties and the travel, all of your merry-making can leave you seeing red in the new year.

But there’s good news: the start of a new year is also a great time to get your savings goals back on track.

Here are a few easy, fairly painless ways you can get a new saving plan started in 2014!

Lose the “latte factor”
Financial expert David Bach, author of the best-selling Finish Rich books, advises everyone to determine their “latte factor.” Your personal “latte factor” refers to the small, seemingly insignificant items you purchase on a regular basis, such as a daily coffee from Starbucks. These items may have small price tags, but when purchased periodically they really add up. You could buy café lattes five days at $3.50 a pop, or you could choose to save that money — which adds up to over $900 a year — in an interest-bearing account. Saving money is the same thing as making money, so it’s a good idea to look at where you’re bleeding extra cash — such as daily coffees, cigarettes, unused gym memberships, etc. — to consider what you might be able to cut out.

Continue reading

Rent Going Up? 5 Ways to Save Money So You Don’t Feel the Pinch

If your used clothing is in good shape, consider selling a few items to make some extra cash.

If your used clothing is in good shape, consider selling a few items to make some extra cash.

It’s practically inevitable: Live in an apartment for a while, and your rent is likely to go up at some point. And hey, we feel your pain. No one likes to pay more per month for the same thing. But c’est la vie, life isn’t fair, you can’t always get what you want, etc.

The National Association of Realtors predicts average apartment rates will rise 4.3 percent in 2014. That could sting a little – unless you’re prepared to budget for a rent hike. We’ve got some ideas to adjust your spending habits so it won’t hurt as much to give your landlord a little extra money every month.

Continue reading

Christmas Shopping Apps: Technology to Make Your Christmas Shopping Easier

Santa Claus, perusing the "naughty or nice" app on his cell phone -- indispensable!

Santa Claus, perusing the “Naughty or Nice” app on his smartphone. His review: 5 stars, “indispensable!”

Feeling overwhelmed by all the Christmas shopping you still have left to do?

Why not put your smartphone to work… and relax!

There’s a wealth of fun and convenient shopping apps that will help you get your holiday shopping done faster, easier — and on budget!

Shop smart this season with a few of our favorite apps.

Continue reading

How Can I Keep Debt Down Around the Holidays?

Give yourself the gift of good credit for the holidays! Check out these tips for budgeting during the holiday season.

Give yourself the gift of good credit for the holidays! Check out these tips for keeping debt down this holiday season.

By Ellen Henderson Sirull

The holidays can be packed with extra spending – from trips to visit the fam to getting your best friend the jacket you know she’ll love.

There are a few ways you can try to keep the fun and giving up while keep costs down.

Here are three things you may want to pay attention to in order to keep your debt down around the holidays.

Continue reading