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🎅🏼 Happier Holidays

Abby Hadidian
Abby Hadidian

It can feel tough to balance having a great Christmas without feeling like you have to overspend to properly celebrate it. 55% of US millennials say they will use credit cards to cover their holiday expenses.

Luckily, there are simple tricks for making sure you don't fall into a spending trap this holiday season.

Today we'll share our best tricks, including a few secrets for saving money when you shop online. 😉

📰 In The Headlines

The business news stories we are watching & how you can follow along

🚙 Tesla Plans to Sell $5 Billion More Shares of Their Stock

Just three months after their last stock listing, Elon is cashing in again

🏦 Stripe is Launching Their Own Bank

The wildly popular online payment platform is trying to cut out the middleman.

📈 DoorDash and AirBnB are IPO-ing this week


🎄 Jolly Good Spending

Until you reach full-on adulthood, you don’t realize how nauseatingly expensive Christmas can be. Each year I find myself empathizing less with Buddy the Elf, and more with Tim Allen in ‘Christmas with the Kranks”.

Many of us are in different financial situations than last year and it's easy to feel at war with wanting to go all out but being afraid of how much it will cost.

The good news is, there are easy ways to save yourself from going into debt or setting yourself back this Christmas. Here are three simple tactics for making sure you don't overspend this Christmas:

🤔 Plan Ahead

I know as soon as the Chtistmas carols start playing, and the last thing you want to think about is money. But, a little bit of forethought can save you a lot of pain later.

Here is how to get started:

  1. Know Your Budget: Figure out the overall number you can spend. If you set money aside for Christmas, good for you! If you’re less of a planner, take a look at your bank account and decide how much you can afford to spend on the Holidays this year. Write down that number.
  2. Make some lists: Take some time to list out everyone you want to get a gift for, decorations you want to buy, and all the extra activities you want to do. Include how much you think each item will cost, then add it all up and compare it with your total budget. Adjust the list until those two numbers match.
  3. Have a talk: Have conversations with your friends and family about their budgets this year too. I know talking about money can feel intimidating, but trust me; everyone is going to come out feeling better. You might find that everyone would rather do a Secret Santa, or even just skips gifts altogether this year!

✒️Track Everything

Yes, I mean everything. Taking an hour once every few days to go through what you're actually spending compared to your planned budget may not feel fun in the moment, but by the end of the month you’ll realize you gave yourself the best gift ever.

Here are a few tools to make this little easier.

  • We made a Christmas Budget Template for you! Make a copy of it for yourself and fill it in throughout December.
  • If you want to start tracking your expenses more consistently, my favorite app is Mint. My husband and I have used the free version to track our finances for the past few years and it’s great for helping you stay on top of your spending and tracking your financial goals.
  • If you are tracking expenses with a group of people, like roommates or family, Goodbudget is a great tool that tracks by the envelope system. That means you can set a certain budget, everyone contributes their share, and you pull from the account as you spend.

🎁 Shop Smarter

Now comes the fun part. Here are three tips to save a little extra on your online Christmas shopping:

  1. Use third party coupon services like RetailMeNot, Honey, and Rakuten. These literally find coupons for you as you shop online. Honestly, if you are not using them, you are giving up free money. This is not sponsored by them, I am just a huge fan.
  2. Another way to find deals is by using Incognito Mode on your web browser as you shop. This will keep you logged out of online stores, so you will see the deals they are using to new customers.
  3. Here is my favorite one: something I like to call the ‘Cookie Monster’. Go to a site you plan to purchase from using your regular browser, fill your cart with a few items you want to buy, then close the browser window. In the next few days, you might start seeing ads and emails with bigger discounts than they offer on their site. This is a newer marketing tactic called ‘re-marketing’. This trick works best with online clothes or cosmetic retailers, especially online-only stores. It doesn’t always work, but I’ve gotten up to 60% off using this trick.

Another Fun Read

If you are feeling like a bit of a Scrooge this year and want an excuse to skip Christmas, check out this article from The Atlantic about how the Holidays could actually be bad for the economy. It will help you justify cutting down your gift list to just you and yourself this year.

Feedback Corner

We switched up our "In the Headlines" section today, what did you think? Would you rather have us break down stories for you?

Let me know what you prefer! Email me at abby@fourminute.fm with your thoughts.

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Abby Hadidian

Newsletter writer for Four Minute Finance | Econ Nerd & Pun Enthusiast