Ocala living is about enjoying the holiday season with family, friends and neighbors. Be proud, of our town. But you don’t have to break the bank to celebrate the holidays in style, even in these inflationary times. Prices may be higher on everything from food to gifts to decorations, but there are still plenty of opportunities to avoid over extending.
For example, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can save hundreds of dollars a year just by sealing your home and boosting its insulation.1 Additionally, swapping old light bulbs for LEDs and plugging electronics into powerstrips can reduce costs. So saving is simpler than you may have thought.
You would also be wise to take advantage of online opportunities for savings. Online giants like Amazon and Ebay offer amazing holiday pricing throughout their sites. But they are not alone. Many less known, but reputable online retailers have jumped into the fray as well. Of course, many brick and mortar retailers offer amazing bargains too. Finally, second hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army offer you an opportunity to search for hidden treasures.2
To be sure, multiple surveys have found that inflation is chilling people’s spending this holiday season. As a result, many shoppers have turned to treasure hunting to reduce their holiday shopping expenditures.3
Here are a few strategies that may allow you to boost your holiday budget and trim household expenses:
1. Save On Groceries: Enjoy Ocala Living To The Fullest!
Ocala living is about lifestyle, and never more so than during this joyous holiday season. However, if you are finding it harder than ever to manage today’s inflationary pressures, you’re not alone. With the U.S. food-at-home index, a measure of grocery price inflation, at a 43-year high, many families are struggling to control the cost of food staples such as meat, dairy, produce, and grains.4
That has made preparing for holiday gatherings especially stressful. But don’t despair. More retailers than ever are responding to consumer demand and providing motivated shoppers with opportunities to save. For example, Publix is expanding its offerings of bogos, while Sam’s Club has seasonal specials throught its stores.
So pay attention to each item on your shopping list, not just the most expensive. You may find opportunities to save and even small savings can add up over time. For example, buying non-perishable items in bulk and focusing only on produce that is in season can reduce expenditures significantly. Additionally, replacing name brand goods for less expensive private label options is a wise strategy as well. You may be surprised by how the savings accumulate when you are mindful of your selections.
While coupons still offer savings opportunities, today you have many other options that are less time consuming and more efficient. Of course, you can save both time and money by earning cash back through special apps. For example, coupon aggregation sites like coupons.com, and shopping apps like Ibotta make it easy to collect discounts while investing little effort.
Also browse your neighborhood grocers’ weekly online flyers. Then consider planning your holiday menus around values found in them. It will be well worth your effort.
2. Prep Your Home for Holidays With Pre-Owned Finds
You don’t have to sacrifice style for the sake of preserving your holiday budget either. If you are expecting company this year and would like to add some festive flair to your home, you may be able do so inexpensively by decorating with secondhand treasures.
Thrifting is back in vogue. But it’s not just about saving money. In fact, many shoppers prefer pre-owned furniture and decor because carefully selected pieces can add an ambiance that new items simply may not possess. A recent study found that the “recommerce” market grew almost 15% last year, twice the pace of growth of all retail.5 But buying used isn’t just a great way to save money. It also helps the environment by keeping reusable items out of landfills. Therefore, it is truly a win/win opportunity.
To be sure, it’s become easier to find secondhand deals online as well. For example, marketplaces on Facebook, Craigslist, and OfferUp now compete with online giants like Ebay and Mercari. Additionally, you can take advantage of neighborhood freecycles and “Buy Nothing” groups. Finally, a number of thrift shops, including major chains like Goodwill, now have e-commerce sites.
Be Creative – Make The Spirit Of The Season Define Ocala Living
Be creative to make Ocala living more fun! Are you handy with a paintbrush or woodworking tools? Amazing! Then consider recycling some of your own furniture and decor. Do you you enjoy crafting? Then why not search throughout your home for materials you can use to create one-of-a-kind decorations?
But don’t stress if you have neither the time nor the talents to tackle such projects. “A house doesn’t have to be perfect or completely decorated seasonally for it to feel festive or inviting,” noted designer Justina Blakeney in an interview with the Washington Post. “Your guests are family and friends, and they are not likely to judge you by your decorating skill.”6
3. Forgo Major Renovations – Do It Yourself Instead
Holidays are always difficult times to embark on major renovations. But ongoing worker and material shortages make the current season especially so. Additionally, inflated costs can add thousands to your renovation bill and unnecessary stress to your holiday.
But Ocala living does not mean throwing caution to the wind. Instead of suffering through an ill-timed remodel, you may be better off focussing on simpler, less expensive do-it-yourself projects this year. For example, build a fire pit so that you and your guests can roast marshmallows and relax in the cozy comfort of your backyard. Then add some ambiance by hanging energy efficient LED outdoor string lights that flash in seasonal colors. While they will add a festive touch for the holidays, they will also be versatile enough to add functionallity to your back yard year round.
On the other hand, if your definition of Ocala living is curling up by an indoor fire, consider upgrading your fireplace. While adding a wooden beam to the top of your mantel can create an extra layer of coziness, re-tiling or painting your fireplace and its surrounds can add a contemporary flair instead. However, you would be wise to limit yourself to projects you are competent to complete professionally. Otherwise, you may ultimately regret undertaking such endeavors.
Please feel free to reach out to us for free advice. For example, we would certainly be happy to offer our opinion as to how your planned renovations could impact your home’s resale value.
4. Invest in Home Maintenance Projects To Cut Utility Bills
Of course, you can reduce costs by completing basic home maintenance tasks, such as replacing your a/c filter and updating your lightbulbs. But if you really want to lower your bills this winter, consider projects that make your home more energy efficient.
According to the EPA, 9 out of 10 homes in the United States are under-insulated. As a result, their owners waste both energy and money.7 However, there are many insulation projects you can complete in just a few days to avoid such waste. For example, the EPA recommends that Ocala living include the following cost saving projects:
(a) Insulating your attic.
(b) Weatherstripping doors and windows.
(c) Sealing areas around the house that may be leaking air, including electrical outlets and fireplaces.
The savings these projects will deliver makes them truly worthwhile. For example, the EPA estimates that sealing and insulating your ducts can make your air conditioning and heating systems up to 20% more efficient.8 Additionally, thanks to new provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, you can now earn tax credits by investing in certain energy efficient upgrades.9 Be sure to check for any local rebates and incentives that may be available as well. Get all the facts before starting a project.
5. Use Expense Tracking to Boost Your Holiday Budget
To avoid overextending during the holidays, one of the best things you can do is track your income and expenses. If your monthly budget is usually tight, you may need to make some tradeoffs to be able to afford holiday expenditures.
Here’s a budget worksheet that we created to make your analysis easier. Start by listing your every day expenses. Then, in the “Adjusted” column, list the cutbacks you believe you can reasonably make.
Finally, analyze whether you can expect any additional income unique to this season, a Christmas bonus for example. Then consider if you can avail yourself of any short term opportunities to earn more income. By decreasing your spending, increasing your income, or both, you can create a budget that will allow you to enjoy the holiday season without undue stress.
|HOUSEHOLD BUDGET WORKSHEET|
|Mortgage/taxes/insurance or Rent|
|Utilities (electricity, water, gas, trash)|
|Phone, internet, cable|
|Home maintenance and repairs|
|Gas, maintenance, repairs|
|Clothing and personal care|
|Savings, retirement, college fund|
|Bonus, tips, other|
|Total Adjusted Income|
|Total Adjusted Expenses||–|
|EXTRA SAVINGS FOR YOUR HOLIDAY BUDGET|
Please consider utilizing this worksheet as your template. We hope you see the value of doing so and encourage you to personalize the form to your needs. To be sure, a little planning will help you to enjoy this wonderful time of year more.
We’re Here To Help You To Make Ocala Living A Great Adventure
We would love to help you meet your financial goals now and in the year ahead. Whether you want to find lower-cost alternatives for home renovations, maintenance, or services, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals.
Of course, if you have been saving up to buy a new home and are ready to take action, we’d gladly help you with that too. Because only the most motivated homebuyers and sellers are active in the market right now, there is a little less competition. So reach out and lets schedule a free consultation. Tell us about the lifestyle you desire. Then let us help make your dream of homeownership a reality this joyous season!
“Do not save what is left after spending, spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffett
This joyous season is a time to celebrate with family, friends and neighbors. Most holidays reflect a historic event, as this season does. So celebrate the history and spirit of this season and be wise enough to understand that the spending is no more than puffery. Of course, while it may be difficult to avoid puffery in politics, it is less so in life!
Andrew Kruglanski, MBA, ABD, Broker
1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) –
6. Washington Post –
7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency –
8. Energy Star –
9. The White House –