Christmas is just ‘around’ the corner.
And thinking about how to save money this time of the year does make a lot of sense, especially since most of us usually go overboard with presents, spending and the
holiday shopping spirit.
1. Don’t think everybody should get a present
When the holidays are near, everybody gets into a present giving frenzy. OK, you need to buy presents for your children and probably your spouse (though most of us don’t expect our loved one to give us anything).
If you’re gifting the entire neighborhood or your distant relatives, consider a change in your habits. Some might get annoyed, but times are rough and we all need to save money at the end of the day.
If someone is not THAT CLOSE to you, send a postcard or give them a call.
2. Don’t even consider starting shopping without a budget in place
We all know how easily we get carried away by the ‘Christmas spirit’ and then barely recover financially after the entire deal is done. Based on your ‘master list’ of the people you plan on gifting this Christmas, think about an overall budget and also a small budget for each of them.
Say: $1000 in total, $200 for each of your 3 kids, $100 for the spouse and $50 for each of the other people on your list. (This is just an example, you have your own calculations and lists, but do bother with them. It will save you a lot of headache.)
3. Under NO circumstance should you get in debt for the holidays
We’re not talking here your credit cards that are being used for rewards, and you have the money ready anyway for the payments, we talk about over-charging, when you know that it means debt.
After the ’89 Revolution in my country, I was almost a teenager. My folks were doing worse and worse, financially speaking. I was being raised by my father, with a small salary, and his parents (so 2 small pensions). They did everything they could to pay for my schooling and the daily necessities, so that I could get a diploma and maybe have a better future.
As you can guess, sometimes Christmas was just a luxury we couldn’t afford. They would just tell me that we cannot afford this and that and I understood. Weirdly enough, after getting a well paid job, I still didn’t splurge on Christmas (or any holiday), since I realized what matters most is LOVE and UNDERSTANDING. Fortunately for me, while money was sometimes scarce, we were never out of these 2.
So .. if you really can’t afford too much these holidays, just let your family know. Be honest and explain that, going too much into debt will clearly mess things up for the next year. Make up for this with providing some good time together and stop feeling guilty about not keeping up with the ‘crowds’.
4. Look for sales and charity shops
You really don’t have to pay retail price anymore. Just pay some attention, you’ll surely find some amazing deals. This might help you go below your budget, which wouldn’t be such an issue, you can always save more money or pay your debt faster.
Sure, it’s cool to go to those fancy stores and just slide your credit card, but today, with all the information we can get, paying full price is not always such a smart move. Just a bit of searching and you can get some amazing deals.
5. Get off your high horse and learn to be content with less
I am appalled at how much our lifestyle can ‘inflate’ as soon as we get into some money. The moment we get a pay raise, we start wanting more stuff and .. more expensive stuff. Years ago we’d be happy with any jeans, now we have to get x brand, which costs 5 times the price any normal person would pay for a pair of pants. Same for anything, from gadgets to jewelry.
Find decent merchandise at a fraction of the price you’d pay for a luxury brand, keep charity and thrift stores in mind. If the product is good, you can buy it, even if it didn’t come from a 5th Avenue Store.
6. Save money as soon as you can
We dedicated the entire article to finding about how to save money for this Christmas and yet all we explained here was how to keep a budget and plan better. Sure, these are very important tactics, but now we can focus on the saving aspect, too.
Start saving AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Yes, January would be a good time. Or any other month you can. Don’t plan all the shopping around your December income, you might have some nasty surprises. Let’s not forget that life sometimes happens and you might have to cover some unexpected medical expenses, car crashing etc.
If you have your Christmas budget in place from the start of the year and then slowly save the money needed, you’ll do great. You can set a fixed amount each month or just save when and what you can. Do it though, don’t let this catch you unprepared.
Having the money ready faster allows you to take advantage of some great deals, which helps you save even more money.
7. Understand Christmas is more than just presents
We tend to forget that holidays should be about US and our families. We run to get the biggest / best present, we spend like crazy on food we’ll throw away (or even out, if we eat like there’s no tomorrow), we obsess about deals and money.
Some of my best Christmases were with no presents and without too much fuss. Last year for example we were able to save aggressively in December, yes – a shocker – in the month people usually fall off the savings wagon, and we were happy to do it. I was pregnant, less than 2 months away from the birth of our daughter and we decided to give up all the Christmas craze and just focus on our family.
We cooked some nice meals, without going overboard, though I was eating for 2, spent the time at home, laughing and making plans. It was an amazing time and this year will be our first holiday with our daughter. As you can imagine, we don’t plan on doing anything fancy, we’ll get the baby some clothing (as we do each month, since she’s growing like a bamboo tree) and that’s it.
What do you do to save money this Christmas?