The holiday season can be merry and bright until January rolls in and you realize exactly how much you’ve drained your finances to hold the perfect Christmas. The cost of Christmas is quick to add up: from presents and decorations to seasonal extras, you can spend money everywhere you turn.
As a result, the financial drain of Christmas has started to bring down the festive mood of the season. To recapture the magic of the holidays, implement a few easy-to-follow saving methods and find yourself enjoying the festive period without breaking the bank.
Setting a Budget
It’s all well and good to set a budget, but the hard part is actually sticking to it. It’s easy to justify getting the more expensive product or picking up an extra turkey for Christmas at the moment, but your bank account won’t thank you later.
Break down into genres each item you’ll need to spend money on and create a list. Think about everything you’ll need for Christmas lunch, what presents your kids want and if you need presents for every single friend.
Once you’ve had a think about what you need to buy, now think about what you want to spend on each individual person on your gift list. Knowing this number in advance will help the cost of gifts remain manageable rather than blowing out because you don’t know what to get people and you feel rushed to make a decision.
When setting a holiday budget it’s also important to remember that the cost of the festive season doesn’t begin and end with gifts. Add incidentals like party favors, decorations, and seasonal activities. Planning ahead helps people realize how much they’ll need to spend in total so they don’t go overboard on one product and find themselves exceeding the budget straight away.
Start Saving as Soon as Possible
The holiday season shouldn’t be marred by financial stress. From the beginning of the year, start saving money in order to be able to give your family the holiday season they deserve without breaking the bank entirely.
Saving doesn’t mean going without every single month of the year. Instead, it means putting aside a portion of each paycheck and taking advantage of sales and reward offers. Most shops nowadays have reward programs. Sign up and you could find that between now and Christmastime you have enough points to purchase something that your kids want at a department store.
Saving can also mean going to the Black Friday sales and planning ahead. Buy gifts you know that people either want or need and hold them until Christmas. Doing the shopping early saves time later on when December is already a busy month and the huge sales discounts reduce the financial strain of gift-giving.
This ties into creating a budget; however, if you know you can’t stick to a budget, try tracking your spending. With great advances in technology have come useful apps that help with money-saving or act as a spending tracker.
Apps like this allow you to track your spending in real-time, making you think twice about buying a gift that is well and truly over-budget. Tracking spending is like having a little voice telling you that perhaps the $5 wrapping paper is just as nice as the $15 one.
If you can track spending in real-time then there is no danger of exceeding a budget because you always know where your finances stand and how much wriggle room there is in the budget.
Holidays and overindulging go hand in hand. Stores are littered with holiday treats and coffee shops introduce their seasonal menu consisting of peppermint hot chocolate and pumpkin spiced lattes. While you may never normally drink hot beverages during the year, somehow you find yourself splurging three times a week on seasonal drinks.
Nothing in the holiday season is cheap—including food and drink. So, toe the line between treating yourself and overindulging. Buying a $4.50 drink three times a week quickly adds up and can prove to be an expense that blows the budget. Think about this treat in terms of the money it costs for an instant pleasure as compared to how that money could be spent on a lasting pleasure such as a gift or decoration.
Here’s a great example. If you’re a renter and looking at getting into a new apartment around the holiday season, maybe take a look at renting a cheaper place and soliciting some self-storage to save a few bucks. This can go a long way come the holidays. Let’s say you live in an expensive city like Chicago, perhaps you can extend your lease in a studio apartment and get into a self storage unit to hold your holiday decorations in the warmer months. This way, you’ll save money, but still have some great holiday decorations on-hand when you need them!
Consider Cheaper Traditions
If you have a big family filled with grandparents, parents, cousins, kids and siblings, already there is a small fortune spent on presents. To make sure that everyone gets a present without breaking the bank, try using the Secret Santa method instead.
Decide on a budget, pull a name out of the hat and think about a gift you need to give to one person instead of twenty.
Aside from gift-giving, there are other ways to make the tradition of Christmas more cost-effective. Instead of going to see a Christmas movie in the cinema, watch an old festive movie at home. Suggest baking Christmas treats together rather than spending money on having them made.
If you have kids or adults in the family who are particularly crafty, get together and make your own decorations and cards and even presents instead of having the expense of store-bought festive items.