Most people struggle with holiday overspending and would welcome a Christmas with less financial pressure. Limiting your holiday season spending gives you more money to repay debt or finance your child’s college fund. Without skipping the gift giving, family gatherings or other important aspects of Christmas, you can create a festive and magical holiday on a budget.
Choose a budget, and stick to it. Retailers inundate consumers with tempting advertising gimmicks and discount sales. Instead of purchasing unnecessary items that lead to buyer’s remorse or large credit card bills, remember your financial goals. Post your goals in visible locations throughout your home for daily reminders to help you spend less during the holiday shopping season.
Spend cash. After you establish a holiday budget, implement an envelope system to keep track of spending. Label envelopes for each budgetary category like gifts, food and travel. Store the budgeted cash inside the envelopes. When the envelope is empty, spending stops. The envelope system works during Christmas and throughout the year to keep your budget on track.
Spend less money on gifts. Exchange names or set a financial limit for each family member. Purchase gifts from secondhand stores that sell gently used and even new gifts. From online sources, buy discount gift certificates for restaurants, entertainment and experiences.
Give the gift of time. Prepare coupons for lawn mowing, babysitting or other services. The recipients redeem the coupons throughout the year and receive a gift that meets a practical need. Rather than spend money for a gift someone might not need, use or want, choose to make memories. Decide as a family to forego presents, and choose to serve a meal at a homeless shelter or play board games with retirement home residents. Give the gift of your time for a special and personalized gift.
Save money on wrapping paper. Use the colored, Sunday comics. Decorate white or brown craft paper with crayons, markers, stickers or glitter. Stock up on after-Christmas sales for wrapping accessories for next year. Use outgrown t-shirts or save gift bags, bows and ribbon from year to year as eco-friendly and economical gift-wrap.
Throughout the year, plan for Christmas. In your wallet, store a list of gift recipients and their clothing sizes, interests and hobbies. During seasonal sales, purchase toys, clothing or sports equipment. Remember to record the gifts on a list for access during the holiday bustle to prevent buying duplicate gifts or overspending. A bit of effort during the year can save you time and money during the busy Christmas season.
Bake seasonal foods while keeping your budget intact. Purchase frequently used ingredients during grocery store sales. Limit expensive alcohol or serve dessert and coffee only for informal gatherings. If you must host a dinner party, consider asking guests to bring a dish to share. Savor the tastes and smells of Christmas without breaking the budget.
During post-Christmas sales, replace broken or torn Christmas decorations and home’s décor items. Purchase deeply discounted napkins, cutlery, lights and artificial trees. Be careful not to bust your budget for deals you do not really need.
The Christmas holiday sabotages many budgets, but you can save money and create a memorable holiday by implementing several techniques. Establish a budget and stick to it. Give creative gifts. Discuss your budgetary limits with family and friends. Together, you can make magic and save money this Christmas.
Father of three and married to a lovely women. Always looking for ways to save money, and invest it properly for my children's future.