7 Ways to Successfully Budget for the Holidays In the Age of COVID-19


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but, unlike past holidays, this holiday season will be a completely different experience, not only in terms of how we shop but also how we celebrate. For one, many people will skip their annual family visits and large family gatherings.

According to Morning Consult, 74% of Americans say they will stick to small-scale holiday gatherings with household members and close friends only while 47% are not having any holiday gatherings at all. Apart from complying with the social distancing rules, many people are also trying to cut back on their holiday spending amid the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Although we are all forced to redefine our holidays, we can still enjoy the winter season and all the special events that come with it, even on a tighter budget. Read on to find out how!


Start shopping early

If no matter what you do, you still end up buying the holiday presents at the very last minute, don’t you think it’s time to step up your shopping game? This year is different in so many ways, so why not have a different approach to holiday shopping as well by starting earlier than in the previous years.

According to the National Retail Federation, many Americans have already planned their shopping strategies, with 42 percent of Americans by the end of October and 41 percent in November. If you are not among the early risers, it’s still not too late to start shopping. You still have time to avoid the last-minute stress, crowds and exorbitant prices on popular items.


Skip the holiday feast

We’re all used to having large family gatherings for the holidays, rich holiday menus and tables full of food. However, since this year, it’s for the best to keep things smaller and stick to small-scale gatherings, it’s also the perfect opportunity to scale down recipes, food and whatnot.

Rather than preparing or buying loads of food, ask each member of the family or friends attending your holiday dinner to choose one or two dishes. That way, you know everyone will enjoy at least something that’s on the table and you won’t have to throw away the huge pile of leftovers. Reducing food waste will also help you reduce your grocery bill and save money instead of wasting it. During an economic crisis, saving is essential.

See also 9 Ways to Be Financially Prepared for a Second COVID-19 Lockdown.


Go with nontraditional holiday meals

Instead of sticking to the same old traditional recipes that are not only boring but can also hike up your grocery bill, jazz up your holiday meal by trying some non-traditional recipes.  Since the holidays this year are a bit different, to say the least, skipping the usual meals can also be better for your wallet.

A menu including pizza or burgers is definitely cheaper; besides, do you think anyone is going to complain when it comes to eating two of the most popular foods in America? Apart from being more affordable, going for non-traditional and more convenient dishes will also allow you to spend more time with your loved ones instead of busying yourself in the kitchen.

RELATED: 13 Things You Shouldn’t Purchase During a Recession.


Plan your road trip in advance

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised Americans to avoid travel for the upcoming winter holidays amid fears that gatherings will increase the number of new COVID-19 cases even further. By that token, around 72 percent of Americans said they will not travel for any of the winter holidays, according to Morning Consult. Among those who do intend to travel, 85 percent claimed they will be doing it by car.

If you’re also planning on taking the highway this holiday season, save money and a lot of hassle by planning your road trip in advance. Book your hotel rooms along the way and benefit from the early booking prices. Planning ahead will also allow you to find the most convenient pit stops for food and fuel.


Find free shipping deals

According to NRF, 60 percent of shoppers intend to buy their Christmas gifts online this year, in order to avoid big crowds, long queues and minimize their risk of contracting the coronavirus. 91 percent of Americans turning to online shopping are also focused on avoiding shipping fees and finding free shipping deals.

Given that such charges can quickly add up to your holiday budget, it’s no wonder most shoppers will be seeking stores that provide free shipping. Luckily, many retailers will offer this facility to their customers. Target, for instance, already provides free two-day shipping for a minimum spend of 35 dollars. Costco also offers free shipping for the same minimum order.

Check the shipping policy for the product you want and make sure you avoid these 10 Costco Items That Seem Cheaper But Are Quite The Opposite.


Begin a handmade gift tradition

According to the NRF, the average holiday spending in 2020 is expected to decrease to $650 from $659 in the previous year. Unfortunately, with so many Americans affected by the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, many won’t even come close to spending such an amount.

But meaningful gifts don’t have to be expensive. If you want to show your family and friends how much you love and care for them, you could get crafty and make them something special with your own two hands. You will not only save money, but you will also earn the appreciation of your loved ones for dedicating your time and energy to create something unique for them.


Make the most of every dollar

Now more than ever it’s important to be smart about your finances and spend as little as possible. You never know when you could use your hard-earned money for a more important situation. So, be a savvy shopper and don’t rush into getting the first deal you lay your eyes on. Retailers will probably have a lot of deals, discounts and coupons available, so make a list of the things you want to buy and stick to it.

Another good idea would be to sign up for sites like Rakuten and Ibotta and enjoy the rebates and cashback on your purchases. Check with your credit card company or log into your account to see if there are any cashback deals linked to your card.

SEE ALSO 11 Purchases You Should Never Make with a Credit Card.

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