Andy Fleming writing on simple living

The holidays are a time for enjoying the company of those you love, and showing them how much you care with thoughtful gifts or the simple pleasure of your company. But if you’re not careful, the holidays could leave you struggling to pay the bills or with some more debt to weigh you down. Don’t fall into the traps that leave so many of us hurting by the end of the year. Follow these tips and you can avoid adding anymore extra wrinkles in 2016.

Exercise caution

Child visiting Santa

©iStock.com/romrodinka

There’s a lot of special treats that emerge with the holiday season. Spiced chai lattes, gingerbread cookies, photos with Santa, ice-skating sessions… There’s nothing wrong with having fun or treating yourself to a special night, but just keep in mind how often you’re letting yourself spend extra cash. Don’t be afraid to grab a pumpkin spice-flavored drink after a hard day at work, but get into the habit of ending your day with a $5 drink and you’ll end up adding an extra $200-$300 dollars to your monthly spending. It’s little details like this that unexpectedly add up during the season and leave you wondering how your checking account got so bruised. Try to save spending splurges for truly special things, like photos of grandkids with Santa, or a family outing to see a Christmas choir.

Create simple traditions

Groupon

This can be hard if your family has a long running holiday tradition of an expensive vacation or pricy attraction. Inexpensive traditions can be just as meaningful as the ones that break the bank. You may even find that younger members of the family prefer the cheap stuff, or at least enjoy it just as much as big events. Instead of going to see a Broadway play, check out a local holiday-themed show or choir performance. Find a nearby neighborhood with elaborate holiday decorations and take the family on a walking or driving tour. Bake gingerbread houses or sugar cookies and have fun decorating them. Go caroling or get together to read holiday stories. You can also save money by taking advantage of daily deals like the ones on Groupon.

Shop Online

Shopsavvy

You can instantly save hundreds of dollars simply by doing some “smart shopping”. Consumer goods like electronics and household wares are usually much cheaper on a site like Amazon or Overstock, rather than a traditional bricks-and-mortar store. You can save even more by using an app like Amazon Pricecheck, BuyVia , or ShopSavvy to compare prices across multiple platforms.

Brave Black Friday (And Cyber Monday)

blackfriday.com

If you’re not opposed to wading through the holiday shoppers on Black Friday, you can stand to save quite a bit. Before deciding when and where to brave the crowds, check out this Black Friday site  to get an overview of all the sales and deals going on at various stores nearby. Don’t forget that the Monday after Black Friday is “cyber Monday”, when most online stores offer significant discounts on items. You can find deals all year on CyberMonday.com and the site offers changing hourly deals on actual Cyber Monday.

Take Advantage of Free Shipping Day

Free Shipping

Many stores offer completely free shipping on orders placed on December 16th and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. Many sites, such as Amazon, Best Buy, L.L.Bean, and Barnes and Noble offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount ($25-$150). You can keep your eye on FreeShippingDay for a complete list of over 418 merchants participating in the event.

Main Image: ©iStock.com/knape

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