Stay thrifty while keeping the holiday spirit
Holiday spending is often a budget-buster. The expenses can be numerous: presents, wrapping paper, cards, decorations, food, and travel, to name a few; and very few people have an unlimited holiday budget. If you don’t have the funds to buy everything you want, not to worry. A little bit of creativity and energy can get you through the holidays without draining your wallet.
If you have the skills, making your own gifts is a great way to save, since supplies usually cost less than the finished product. Not only are homemade gifts cheaper, but many people appreciate them more than store-bought gifts because of the effort that goes into making them.
Not an experienced crafter? Write a letter or make a collage representing what the person means to you, or frame a memorable photo. If you can bake, standard cookies or brownies can be dressed up with sprinkles and ribbons in holiday colors. You can find great ideas on sites like YouTube or Pinterest.
Offering your services is another great cost-saving gift, since it only costs time. Offer a free night of babysitting, or a month of lawn-mowing. Create a coupon the recipient can redeem at a later date.
Give the Gift of an Experience
Plan an outing with your family members or friends instead of a gift exchange. Everyone pays their own way, and you can keep the experience as simple and fun as the group’s budget can handle. Outdoor activities, or a local play or museum are a few examples. If you don’t want to strain anyone’s expenses, have a cozy potluck gathering at home. Remember to take fun photos, which can make great framed gifts in the future.
People underestimate the cost of wrapping gifts. Skip the fancy wrapping paper and bows, and find alternatives. Newspaper (especially the comic section) can work, as can computer paper, or paper shopping bags. Use inexpensive craft supplies, such as glitter, paint, or pattern stamps, to add decorative touches.
Store-bought cards can cost $4 or more each. Sending them to 20 people would cost you $80, not including postage! Create your own cards using simple supplies, or create and send cards electronically to avoid additional costs. Make your own or use one of the many free services online. If you want to send physical cards, consider trimming your mailing list to save, or hand delivering them for a personal touch.
Save on store-bought decorations by seeing what you can use from around the house. Make a garland out of popcorn, and use local natural supplies like pine cones and acorns. To save on store-bought decorations, plan ahead for next year and only buy them after the holidays, when they’re at a deep discount. Garage or yard sales and thrift shops are also a great place to find discounted seasonal decorations throughout the year.
If you host holiday dinners or parties, you may find yourself spending significant money on food. Potluck dinners are an easy way to shift some of the burden of buying all of the food yourself. If you don’t want to ask your guests to bring food, consider options like eliminating a full dinner and having only appetizers and desserts. Shop for less expensive food, available in some bulk-food stores.
Airfare is generally more expensive during the holidays, since that is when everyone flies. To save, consider having a “holiday” dinner during an off-peak time of the year, when airfare is cheaper. Whenever you do fly, being flexible can usually help you save; you probably won’t have to spend as much if you fly at night or have a layover.
You can have a great holiday season without spending a great deal of money. Be creative with your purchasing and avoid straining your finances, so you can celebrate during the holidays, and afterward as well. Still need some assistance with your seasonal finances? Start by learning about a Holiday Loan.
Learn More: Holiday Loan
Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness