According to a recent Gallup survey, roughly 72% of Americans expect to spend a similar amount or more on gifts this holiday season. No matter how much you're planning to spend, our analysts may be able to help you save some money.
We asked three Fools to tell us their favorite money-saving tip for the holidays. Read on to learn what they think may help you stretch your dollar this holiday season and for seasons to come.
Dan Dzombak: While clipping coupons in the Sunday paper is still an effective way to save money, the easiest way to save money this holiday season is to check RetailMeNot or Coupons.com to see what offers are available on purchases you plan to make. While I have barely started my holiday shopping -- hopefully my mother won't read this -- I already saved just more than 50% on one gift already with an online coupon code found on one of the websites.
You can browse and search both websites by store, product, and category to either get promo codes for use in online stores or get printable coupons for use in retail stores. Both websites also let you know what sales are going on in stores and online that you can take advantage of.
If you have a set list of gifts you are buying, getting coupon codes from RetailMeNot.com or Coupons.com is a great way to save money. Just make sure you don't end up spending more than you planned on extra gifts.
Leo Sun: A simple way to save money during the holidays is to put away your credit card and simply use cash or a debit card.
According to a recent study by CardHub, U.S. consumers will finish 2014 with $54.8 billion more in credit card debt than at the beginning of the year. This means that the average credit card debt per household will soar past $7,000 by the end of the year -- a level that hasn't been breached since 2010. If CardHub's forecast is accurate, the average U.S. household will be only $1,300 away from the "tipping point" in credit card debt, where minimum payments become unsustainable.
To avoid becoming part of that alarming statistic, decide exactly how much you want to spend on holiday gifts in advance. Either withdraw that amount in cash, or set up a special debit card for that purpose. By setting a maximum budget for the holidays, it becomes easier to decide which gifts are affordable and which are not. If you have some spare cash left over after the holidays, check out some post-holiday sales to pick out some gifts for next year at steep discounts.
Jason Hall: This time of year, it's easy to get caught up in the rush to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, and trying to get the best deal you can is certainly important. However, there's a simple thing that almost everyone can do to put more money in their pockets when they'll most need it -- in retirement. Next time you're shopping online, take 20 minutes and log into your benefits website for your employer, and increase the contribution to your 401(k).
Did you know that the median household lowers their income tax bill by about $15 for every $100 they put in their 401(k)? Think about it this way: Increasing your contributions by 1% of your salary would -- based on the median U.S. household income -- put another $550 in your retirement account, and cut your tax bill by $82. Maybe $550 doesn't sound like much, but over time, it can really add up. Based on the compounded annual growth rate of the S&P 500 since 1983, $550 would be worth more than $4,800 after 20 years. After 30 years? That $550 turns into more than $14,000:
Isn't that worth 20 minutes even amid the holiday hustle and bustle?
Dan, Leo, and Jason do not have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends RetailMeNot. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.