As soon as the thought of the holiday season comes to our mind, we are filled with the pleasant memories of family time, parties, shopping, gift-giving and traveling. While many of us eagerly wait for the holiday season to arrive, from within we start feeling anxious about the financial burden that accompanies the festive season. However, with proper planning and creativity, we can stop ourselves from overspending and going into post-holiday debt.
To help you enjoy your holidays without draining your savings, we’ve created a list of the top 15 tips that will help you save a reasonable amount of money this holiday season.
#1 Create a holiday budget
Before you go on the holiday shopping spree, make sure that you have an effective holiday budget in hand. This budget will help you keep track of your spending and save you from the piles of credit card debt that often follow. When creating a budget, remember that the holiday season is not only about gifts. It also includes other expenditures such as festive food, decorations, parties, get-togethers, travel and much more.
Based on your family traditions, include all the things that you feel will be a part of your holiday. Once you create a list of things and activities planned for the holiday season, make provisions for the budget by assigning a dedicated amount for each activity you are planning to indulge in during the holiday season. After creating the list, check where you can make small tweaks to restrict any overspending. Keep this list handy and stick to it as much as you can. This list will continuously remind you of your budget and ensure that you do not spend extra money.
#2 Note down your spending
Creating a budget will only give you an idea of the amount of extra cash you will need for the holiday season. On the other hand, noting down all your spending will help you keep track of your actual holiday expenses. Several people keep a separate bank account dedicated to holiday spending. As this account is different than the regular one, it should not be used for routine expenses like paying bills or buying groceries. This dedicated holiday account will help you keep track of your spending. If you are not good at remembering where you spent your money, a quick look at the account statement will tell you about your expenses.
#3 Look around for the best deals
As the holiday season approaches, numerous retail stores and online shops offer great deals and discounts. So, take some time and look around for the best deals in your nearby stores. If you like any product, check if it is available in an online shop or anywhere else at a discounted rate.
There are good chances that you will find similar products at different prices in different stores. Additionally, you can take advantage of the sales events such as Black Friday, White Wednesday or Cyber Monday that take place around the holiday season. These sales events offer some great bargains on numerous items such as clothing, shoes, perfumes, accessories, household items, etc. Getting the best deals can help you save a lot of money that you would otherwise spend on yourself or on gifts during the holiday season.
#4 Carefully go through your mailbox
Many brands and stores collect the email address of their buyers every time they make a purchase online or in-store. This helps brands keep track of their customers and offer them occasional or festive rewards. The holiday season is the best time when brands offer rewards to their customers, members or subscribers in the form of exclusive deals, gift coupons or promo codes.
Before you start your shopping spree, carefully go through your mailbox to see if you have received any such reward from your favourite brands. Remember to check your Junk or Spam folders as sometimes a promotional mail might end up their without your knowledge. With the help of these emails, you can easily track the best deals in town and save money on festive shopping.
#5 Compare prices
Every store has a special price list for items listed under the ‘festive category’. If you find something attractive at a store and are unsure about its price, try to do a quick check on the internet to compare its prices. You might find similar item in a different brand or any other online store at a lower rate. The prices of items such as watches, handbags, shoes, apparel and skincare can be compared on e-commerce websites or Google Shopping. Another way to save money is by visiting flea markets or thrift stores to find festive items at throwaway prices.
#6 Be creative with gifts
As you trim down your Christmas tree every year, with the growing expenses you can trim down your holiday budget by being a little more creative. Handmade gifts can be a great option to consider if you like giving personalised gifts. Use your art and craft skills to make a handmade card or bring your baking skills to use to bake some cookies and brownies.
Instead of buying gift hampers from stores, you can also create your own by adding assorted chocolates, candles, Christmas ornaments or anything else that you wish to add to it. Customising your gift baskets will make it more appealing and valuable. The internet is flooded with DIY gifting ideas. Check out some ideas and choose the one you find interesting. To give your homemade gifts an appealing and festive look, decorate them or carefully wrap them with gift wrapping paper. Your thoughtfulness will bring joy and comfort to your loved ones.
#7 Try throwing a potluck party
A lot of people host family dinners around the holiday season. Hosting around 25 to 30 people and arranging food and drinks for so many people could be expensive. One of the best ways to reduce your expenses and still have an extravagant meal is by throwing a potluck lunch or dinner. As you will be the host, you can make the main dish and take care of the decoration or activities. However, you can inform the others that you would appreciate their help in arranging drinks, sides, appetisers or dessert. To avoid any last-minute hassle, ensure that you assign a separate food item to all those volunteering and inform them about the number of people attending the party. This will ensure that you do not end up with extra packets of chips or sweets.
#8 Choose cheaper traditions
Festive traditions help to make the holidays more special. While traditions are admirable and signify the rituals of a family, they just need to be memorable. If some of your family traditions result in a financial burden, then this year try following your traditions with a twist. For example, if you have a family tradition of travelling on holidays or giving extravagant gifts, then look for cheaper options. Rather than going for an exotic holiday, take a small break near your town or indulge in activities and celebrations taking place in your town. Similarly, swap expensive gifts with festive cards, keepsakes or anything memorable.
#9 Minimise the decoration costs
Although festive decorations reflect the spirit of the holiday season, it is not necessary that you let these decorations make a hole in your pocket. Decoration prices are usually elevated during the festive season. So, if you like to decorate your home, start buying decorative stuff way in advance or buy it during the off-season.
Creatively reusing your old decorations will also give your house a festive look without people noticing the reused stuff. If you are extremely creative, then you can buy art and craft supplies and use your talent to create unique and exclusive decorative items. For example, if you have multiple mason jars lined up at home, fill them up with small tree ornaments and fairy lights. Similarly, you can use old wine corks to make Christmas ornaments or turn them into table decorations.
#10 Shop early
If you are unable to trim down your gift list, then the best way to reduce your spending is by starting early. You can spread out your holiday shopping throughout the year to evenly distribute your budget. Additionally, while shopping during the middle of the year, you can find the best deals on the winter collection. Some people do not wait for Black Friday sale and prefer to buy specific items available on sale at other times of the year.
#11 Remember the actual spirit of the festivals
Apart from gifting and spending money on food and drinks, festivals are more about enjoying the company of your family and friends. At times all your loved one’s need is your presence and not your presents. Cherish the holiday season and spend as much time as you can with your near and dear ones. Simple activities such as watching a movie at home, making Christmas cards, baking, meeting over hot chocolate or singing carols with your family will make everyone feel happy and content.
#12 Host intimate gatherings
As compared to a big Christmas bash, an intimate gathering can be fun and a lot less boring. The holiday season is more about spending time with your near and dear ones than hosting a large number of people. If you are the host, you can choose your own guest list and reconnect with your extended family, friends or colleagues. An intimate Christmas party is less stressful and easier on the wallet. You can easily host it at your home or in your backyard.
However, if you want a change in setting, then renting out an Airbnb or a villa can also be a good idea. These locations charge less than expensive hotels and some even allow its guests to host intimate gatherings. To make your intimate party exciting, make sure to keep a stock of board games or card games that everyone can play after a good meal.
#13 Limit holiday luxuries
During the holiday season, several food and drink outlets and restaurants attract guests to indulge in extravagant buffets or try out their festive menu. Although these items are prepared to add to the festive spirit, they also come with a high price tag. Frequently bingeing on items from the festive menu can inflate your holiday budget.
Similarly, to manage your budget, try to restrain yourself from buying things that are promoted exclusively during the festive season. Several brands promote white-label items during the festive season to boost their sales. Instead of spending your money on items such as a perfume with peppermint fragrance, a set of festive pyjamas or a coffee mug with a reindeer on it, check your wardrobe and repurpose your old items or make them yourself.
#14 Have the gifts shipped to the recipient
Arranging a courier is a traditional way to send gifts to someone who lives far away. However, with online shopping, there is an option where you can directly add the address of the recipient. A majority of web stores and e-commerce stores collaborate with courier service providers to increase their reach. As a result, they are able to cover a vast number of areas without incurring heavy charges. By adding the address of the recipient at the time of ordering an item online, you can send the item directly to their place without the hassle of forwarding the package from your home. Several stores also have options such as gift-wrapping or personalised notes to make your gift more special.
#15 Organise secret Santa
Secret Santa is a fun and cost-effective way to ensure everybody receives a gift on Christmas. It is a gift exchange event where people give and receive gifts without breaking the bank. It also has a fun element, as some might pack a thoughtful present while others can just pull a prank. If you are organising a secret Santa and do not want anyone to feel disappointed, then you can set your rules. For example, fix a date and budget for individual gifts and ask people to RSVP if they want to get involved in the event.
Hopefully, these tips will help you keep a handle on your Christmas spending this year and the next!