It’s easy to overspend during the holiday season. From presents to travel to decorations and all that food, here are 17 ideas for how to save money during the holidays.
1. Set a Budget
Figure out all the things you’ll need to purchase—gifts, food, decorations—and set a budget and stick to it. Be sure to think about little things that are easy to forget about such as charitable contributions, gas for travel and wine for a holiday party host. By setting a budget you will surely save money during the holidays.
2. Get Christmas Lists Early
The earlier you get your loved ones Christmas lists the earlier you can get shopping and hopefully find great deals. If you can brave the crowds, Black Friday is a great day to buy Christmas presents for a discounted price. And if you can’t handle the crowds, there’s always Cyber Monday to find gift deals online.
3. Use Cash Only
It can be hard to keep track of spending when using credit or cards, so make a point to use cash only for holiday-related purchases. When the money is gone, the shopping is over and saving money during the holidays is well underway.
4. Start Shopping Early
The earlier you start shopping for the holidays, the easier it will be to resist overspending. And starting early allows you time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, instead of having to shop at the last minute. And this makes it more likely you’ll blow the budget and won’t save money during the holidays.
5. Buy in Bulk
If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, it’s smart and cost-effective to buy frequently used items like paper plates, napkins, paper towels and toilet paper in bulk during the holidays, especially if you are hosting holiday gatherings.
6. Cut Back on Extras (For a Month)
To ease the strain on your budget, try cutting back on extras for a month. If you give up that $5 latte you have each morning for 30 days, you can save $150 which could go toward Christmas gifts. And if you do splurge on yourself in the days leading up to Christmas, make sure it’s worth the price.
7. Go Potluck Style
Instead of serving a large holiday meal in which you’re responsible for all the food, ask guests to bring a dish to share. And not only will you save money during the holidays, everyone will enjoy tasting the variety of foods and sharing their recipes.
8. Try Secret Santa
If you have a large family, try using the Secret Santa method for gifts this year. By only buying one gift, it will relieve some of the financial burden and can also be a fun, new tradition. You can find several different ways to do Secret Santa gifts online.
9. Rethink Traditions
Holiday traditions should be memorable because they are fun, not because they’re expensive. Look for local Christmas festivals and performances, drive around to see Christmas lights. And go sledding or stay in and watch holiday movies or play board games together. All of these activities are free or relatively inexpensive and will save money during the holidays.
10. Think Outside the Decoration Box
If you normally purchase a tree, save money during the holidays by making your own alternative tree. Whether you use reclaimed wood, craft supplies or even wine corks, an alternative tree can save you money and space while still being festive.
11. Forget Traditional Christmas Cards
Instead of paying for Christmas cards and postage, try sending family and friends e-cards. Many websites offer free e-cards and some can be customized with your family’s photos and some even play music.
12. Comparison Shop
When shopping for big-ticket items such as electronics, be sure to comparison shop. And take some time to research the items online and how much they cost at different stores so when you’re ready to buy, you know you’re getting a bargain.
13. Think DIY Gifts
Never overlook the value of DIY gifts, they definitely save money during the holidays. If you have a gardener on your gift list, try making them a terrarium. And put together a photo collage, build a plant stand or create an indoor hopscotch mat for a child.
14. Intangible Gifts
Want to give a gift but have a very tight budget? Try making a meal or baking a pie for a neighbor, or offer a night of babysitting to new parents. And you can even donate your time to shovel their driveway for a couple weeks.
15. Lighten Up on Lights
LED Christmas lights can save you money on electric bills. But those old incandescent lights can cost you $13.65 per month, according to Xcel Energy Colorado. Instead of going all Clark Griswold on your holiday light display, keep it simple and tasteful. Using fewer Christmas lights will save money during the holidays.
16. Take a Trip
Travelers can often find great deals on hotels over the holidays. Depending on your family, you may be able to forgo gifts and instead get away for a few nights and relax by the pool, have a meal together at a nice restaurant and visit a free museum.
17. Visit Discount Stores
When it comes time to wrap the gifts and stuff stockings, make a trip to the discount store. Dollar stores are a great place to load up on holiday wrapping supplies and tape. And they’re also a good place for stocking stuffers such as candy, ornaments and little toys.
3 Steps Homeowners Can Take to Stay Safe This Holiday Season
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. The United States Fire Administration reported that structure fires, and the dollar loss per fire, is nearly one-third higher between December 1 and January 7. On Christmas Day alone, the incidence of fires caused by candles quadruples compared to any other day of the year.
The holidays can also be a peak time of year for home burglaries as many police departments across the country list the week after Christmas as the highest burglary caseload. You can escape these worst-case scenarios with common sense and a little forethought. To keep your home safe and secure this holiday season, here are three simple rules.
1. Don’t Leave the Kitchen Unattended
One of the leading causes of fires during the holidays isn’t Christmas trees or Christmas lights—it’s cooking. While cooking-related fires are most common on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve aren’t far behind.
Home fires occur in the kitchen more than any other room in the house. Make sure that you have a smoke alarm near the kitchen and that the batteries are in working order before you begin your holiday meal preparations.
If you follow the rule of never leaving the stove or oven unattended, you can avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Distractions are inevitable when your extended family arrives for Christmas Day festivities. Adding an extra set of hands to assist with cooking can help mitigate the risk of a potential fire hazard.
2. Mind Your Festive Lights
Even if you follow all instructions, like making sure that the base of your Christmas tree is always submerged in water, you are still at risk for a fire if you don’t manage your Christmas lights safely. To lower your risk of a fire, always follow these light-safety tips:
Outdoor lights are a little more complex—and just as dangerous. Keep these basic guidelines in mind when setting up your display:
3. Don’t Leave Your Home (and Gifts) Vulnerable
Leaving your house clearly unattended is an open invitation for burglars. If you plan on going out of town, even for a day or two, follow these simple rules:
Even if you’re staying home this holiday season, you still need to take steps to defend your home against burglars:
Get Peace of Mind This Holiday Season from Auto-Owners Insurance
This holiday season is the perfect time to check with your insurance agent to confirm that you are protected against everything that could go wrong. The independent agents are experts at seeing gaps in your home insurance coverage that could leave you and your home vulnerable. For example, what if gifts are stolen from the trunk of your car while it’s parked in your driveway? Is that covered?
Your insurance agent can answer all these home insurance questions and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home and your presents are protected this holiday season.
for more information, please visit Auto-Owners' blog.
The winter holiday season is full of family, friends and festivities, but unfortunately, all that extra celebrating, cooking and decorating can pose potentially serious hazards at home. Knowing the risks and how to help avoid injury, theft and damage to property through the holiday season are important and can save you from expensive homeowners’ insurance claims.
1.Decorate wisely. To help reduce the risk of fire, use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations. Planning your displays carefully is important to help reduce the risk of fire, electrical shock, trips and falls and property damage. If you decorate a Christmas tree, select a quality artificial tree and decorate with only UL-listed lights. If you choose to have a fresh tree, be sure to keep water in the stand at all times.
2. Use candles responsibly. December is the peak time of year for home candle fires — the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Each year between 2012 and 2016, an average of 8,200 home candle fires were reported each year. Keep lit candles at least 1 foot away from anything that burns and make sure candles are out of reach of children and animals. Also, extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
3. Keep your tree away from heat sources. U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 200 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause an estimated annual average of $14.8 million in direct property damage. A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.
4. Prevent theft. Unfortunately, the holiday season sees an increase in break-ins. Always lock your doors, keep the garage closed, lock windows, and make note of strangers in your neighborhood. Whether you are hosting a party for the neighbors or leaving home for a holiday get away, secure your valuables in a personal safe or a locked room in your home. If you don’t have one already, consider purchasing an alarm system. Also, with the gift giving season in full swing, if you have recently acquired new valuables, inform your insurance agent so that your homeowners’ insurance policy can be updated so you have adequate protection.
5. Protect your pipes. Nothing could ruin the holiday more than the unanticipated damage a burst pipe could cause. The three central causes of frozen pipes are quick drops in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low. Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic, even if you live in a climate where freezing is uncommon. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.
6. Be a responsible party host. If you plan to serve alcohol at any type of party, it’s important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you are covered with the proper insurance. Offer guests the option to stay over, have a designated driver to take people home at the end of the night and ensure no one is driving after they have been drinking.
7. Protect your identity. Protect yourself from hackers and identity thieves as you shop in stores and online this holiday season. Keep wallets, passports, smartphones and other sensitive items secure in bags or pockets and only take them out when needed. Only share your credit card and payment information online on trusted websites.
8. Test all your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Help avoid fire and smoke damage by making sure your home’s fire safety prevention system is working correctly. The National Safety Council recommends you install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
9. Inspect and clean your fireplace. Whether you have a natural or gas fireplace, it’s a source of heat and potential danger. Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected regularly. Also, don’t position your Christmas tree — or anything else — near the fireplace.
10. Practice kitchen safety. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round, and the increased use of stovetops and ovens for preparing holiday meals can increase the risk. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the second and third most common days for home cooking fires. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
11. Don’t overload electrical outlets & use proper extension cords. Don’t plug all of your holiday lights into one outlet or one circuit. Try to distribute the electrical load across several circuits to prevent any one from being overloaded. Extension cords should always be heavy-duty, quality cords that are grounded for fire safety. Never run extension cords under rugs or in areas where they pose a tripping hazard.
12. Follow dryer safety recommendations. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the number of dryer fires increases in the winter months and peak in January. Be sure to empty the lint screen before every load and remove all snow from the outside opening to the dryer vent. Also, never run the dryer while you’re asleep or away from home.
13. Avoid injuries in the home. Injuries requiring medical attention occur more often at home than in public places, the workplace and motor vehicle crashes combined, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council. The number and rate of unintentional home injury deaths has been steadily rising since 2000, largely due to increases in unintentional poisonings and falls, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
14. Keep matches and lighters away from kids. The number of blazes — and, tragically, the number of deaths — caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, the U.S. Fire Administration reports, and in December, that percentage doubles.
15. Prevent pet bites. The holidays are a busy time and can cause a lot of stress, especially on your furry companions. Pets can become over-excited or territorial when unfamiliar individuals enter your home. Dog bites are a common cause of injury to guests and as the home/pet owner, you could be liable for resulting medical bills.
For more information, please visit Property Casualty 360.