How to Save Money for Christmas

23-10-2015 | Ramona |

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?

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Recent Comments

  • diane @smartmoneysimplelife

    October 23, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    We just buy presents for the children in the family. Everyone else gets a homemade token, like jam or biscuits. Otherwise, it gets crazy expensive.

    I’m looking forward to the littlies being old enough to appreciate an ‘experience’ gift rather than ‘stuff’. Got a few years before that can happen, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ramona

      October 24, 2015 at 5:52 am

      We are afraid that, once she grows up, daughter will stop appreciating experience gifts, because of the ‘peer pressure’ in her group. When all friends get all kinds of gizmos, she might not appreciate a great experience. On the other hand, she might, depending on how we raise her.

      We’ll do our best to provide her some nice holidays and still not break the bank. I was actually able to save few bucks now and then and this allows us to have almost all her Xmas budget covered.

  • jANE

    October 24, 2015 at 7:17 am

    I love! love! love! your last remark! Christmas is not all about the presents!

    I’m shocked to see how many people overspend for Christmas each year! And they start in late October / beginning of November, too! It’s so easy to get carried away nowadays, with the “great deals” and the flashy publicity and everything.

    But, to answer your question, Ramona, the way I will save money this Christmas is I will not get carried away! I already have my old Holiday decorations, don’t need to buy new ones, I’ll only give small presents to my family and best friends, everyone else will receive a phone call (it’s what I do every year) and, as usual, I will not spend any money on food, since I always eat at my folks or other relatives &friends so that’s a big money saver! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Ramona

      October 30, 2015 at 11:53 am

      We don’t have any decorations yet, so we’ll have to purchase some this year, since it’s the first we ‘keep’ a Christmas tree for our daughter. But we’ll re-use them in the years to come. Not gifting half of the world does help indeed, we’ll also keep our list very small

  • splinter

    October 24, 2015 at 8:04 am

    What a timely post you have here. I agree, experience beats any material gift. So this Christmas, I definitely spend more time with my family, help them with the preparations and simple enjoy each other’s company. This will not only help me save more, but it will also strengthen my relationships especially my family. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ramona

      October 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Spending time together should ALWAYS be a priority. There are so many amazing memories I personally have with my folks, memories that actually don’t involve, ‘heavy’ gifting, but cooking together, eating and having some nice relaxing moments together.

  • Kat #alwaysbroke

    October 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Oh my, this is so funny for so many reasons! I don’t consider myself a cheapskate, but I really don’t enjoy spending too much money on presents for the Holidays either (any holiday, really, Easter, Valentine’s, you name it! ).
    1. Donโ€™t think everybody should get a present – CHECK!
    2. Spending budget – I don’t have one, but I’m sure I’ll apply my usual rule: as cheap as possible is perfect! (I make a good effort not to buy crap, but I WILL look for sales or alternatives!)
    4. Look for sales – see number 2 ๐Ÿ˜€

    The most important thing of all is knowing Christmas is not just about gifts and spending money on others, my real friends and my dear family all agree with it.

    • Ramona

      October 30, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Well, preparing in time and looking for the sales is indeed a great way to save money. Preparation is always better than running on Christmas Eve, desperate to buy ‘something’. Have done it in the past and it was a VERY costly mistake.

  • Jasmine2015

    November 1, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    “Get off your high horse and learn to be content with less”. I had to laugh with agreement on that statement. How many people do you know have that act like it is some type of competition to give out as many presents as possible? It is about giving, not just the present it’s self. Then there are those who always get gifts but the chances of them using it is small. I have had people give me nice clothes and coats for the winter and they never had to guess whether or not I would wear it because at some point they will see me wear it. I just see it as am opportunity to save money that would have been spent on clothes but now can be spent on something else So yes I like clothes as gifts even of its socks. Either way you should be grateful someone thought enough about you to give you a gift because it’s not mandatory.

    • monique

      November 3, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      I agree with you (and with Ramona) 100%!
      I used to get very stressed out before the holidays as well, because I felt pressured to buy everyone a gift, but later on found out it only ended up gathering dust. So, from my point of view, that was a waste of my money. It’s been a few years now since I learned my lesson and I never felt guilty about not getting everyone a Christmas present.

  • Trixie

    November 8, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Christmas is indeed, just around the corner! Many shops have already begun selling “Christmassy” stuff, and we’re not even halfway through November yet!
    However, I also hope to manage not to go overboard this year. It’s gonna be difficult, because getting gifts for loved ones is tempting.

  • Kitty84

    November 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    We’ve been saving money left and right so that we can afford to have a great Christmas. It sounds like we’ve been doing the opposite of what you wrote here, but we’re really not. In fact, not every single person we know will get a present, just the very close people in our lives. Also, we gave up on buying Christmas decorations each year, this year we decided to only choose 1, so we’d at least have something new.

  • Tippy Toe

    November 25, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I have 2 words for everyone looking to save money on Christmas: Black Friday!

    I already made a list with, more or less, what I’m gonna get everyone as a gift. So, the day after tomorrow, I’ll go hunting.. err, I mean, shopping ๐Ÿ˜€

    If I manage to find ridiculously cheap presents, then my work this Christmas is done! Happy cheap shopping everyone!

  • Didi

    November 28, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Save money? Look for sales? This year, I’m gonna make a ginormous batch of home made biscuits and give them away as gifts to my dear friends and beloved family. We already have money related issues, I can’t afford to get even deeper into debt..

  • Matei

    September 1, 2016 at 7:07 am

    Last year I started to buy Christmas presents in… October and by Black Friday, I had everything in place. This year I will do the same: I will hunt sales for wine and chocolate and I will save some money for the more important presents.

    I don’t have a high salary by any means. However, if you spend a small portion every month, in December you won’t be stressed about money and will be able to enjoy holidays with the friends and family.

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