This post was sponsored by Regions Bank. All opinions are my own.
I love the holidays, but my wallet doesn’t! I’m all about Christmas and the holiday season! I love the holiday cheer, the music and the decorations. I love gift giving and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as they unwrap their presents. The holiday season has always made me happy. The only part that didn’t make me happy was all the money we were spending on our gift list. We were definitely going overboard on spending and blowing our budget every year. And we weren’t alone.
Americans spend a lot of money on holiday gifts and the amount is growing and growing. The National Retail Federation predicts a 3.7 percent increase in sales this year, with the average American set to spend an estimated $786 in the following categories:
$459.87 on gifts for family
$80.00 on gifts for friends
$26.03 on colleagues
$30.43 on the other people in their lives
This amount of spending can lead to financial stress for many people. We want to please everyone on our gift list and we end up in a cycle of overspending, getting into debt and regretting it in the new year as we struggle to pay our bills. It’s a cycle that we needed to break. Our goal was to start a fresh new year; not start with a fresh new bill to pay off. There had to be a better way. So I got to thinking.
Handmade gifts can take some time and effort but they don’t have to cost a whole lot of money. There are so many things that can be made that will actually be used and enjoyed. The bonus? They will probably hold a lot more value to the recipient than something store bought would. Your recipients will feel special because you took the time and put thought into making something just for them. My daughter and I have made some really lovely gifts since then and it sure has saved us a lot of money during the holidays. We have made everything from Homemade Bath Bombs to Tea Tree and Lavender Shaving Cream and so far they have all been big hits with our friends and family members.
If you aren’t sure where to start with the gift giving
My current favorite DIY holiday gift idea are these gorgeous DIY Agate Coasters that we made with less than $20 worth of ingredients (they sell for over $100 in stores!). They look amazing, make great gifts and are really easy to make.
Here’s what you need:
Agate Slices (I purchased my set at the craft store but you can order them online too.)
Liquid Leafing – Classic Gold (Feel free to try out the silver if you’d prefer!)
Rubber Feet (optional but will help give coasters more stability)
You will want your agate slices to be large enough to fit a cup or glass. Slices vary in size and are not all perfectly round. The smallest coaster I had was 3 inches in diameter at its smallest and it was just big enough. If you are able to find the agate in person you will be able to judge in person, but if I were to order online I would order the 3.5 – 4” size and put in a request for rounder shapes.
Lay down a sheet of newspaper to work on.
Shake your liquid leafing well before opening. This can smell kind of strong, so if you are sensitive I would be sure to work with a window or door open.
Dip your small paint brush in the liquid leafing. A little bit will go a long way!
Make small brush strokes around the outside of your agate slice. The liquid leafing dries quickly.
Set the agate slice on the newspaper to finish drying.
If you are using rubber feet, stick a few on whichever side you deem as ‘the bottom’ spacing them out evenly.
If you accidentally get some gold on the stone surface, just allow it to dry and then dip a Q-tip in nail polish remover and gently rub.
4 ways to spread cheer and save your wallet this holiday season
1. Remember the golden rule. What you spend on gifts shouldn’t go over your salary ratio of 1.5 percent of your annual income. Use this rule as a guide to decide how much you should put back each month to spend on gifts for your friends and family — and then please stick to it.
2. Separate and delegate. Have you thought about creating a separate account to fund gifts and make regular deposits from your primary checking account on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.
3. Only buy what you can truly afford. When you understand what happens when you overspend, you never want to leave home without a list of what you intend to buy. Then be sure you have the money (cash in hand) needed to cover the gifts you plan to purchase when you arrive at the store.
4. Plan to your advantage. While purchases like airline tickets should be booked far in advance, other items — toys in particular — often go on sale during December 1-14. Sometimes it is a good idea to wait, other times it does not pay to wait, so be sure to check for deals before you leave to get your shopping done.
As the holiday draws near, why not plan your strategy for shopping? Establish a new habit (saving before you need it) based on your income and then stick to it; then create your holiday fund, and make deposits regularly; stay true to your budget and what you can afford; and know when to buy and when to be patient. The holidays are all about family. Let’s keep our eye on the prize – which is our family – and not go into debt over it.
How do you save on gifts during the holiday season?
Do you go the DIY route or stick to a strict budget? Do you contribute to a holiday account throughout the year? I would love to hear some of your ways to spread cheer and save your wallet during the holiday season!