Holidays are an exciting time but with the shopping, decorating and entertaining, your wallet can start feeling the crunch. Statistics show that every year, Americans spend nearly $875 per person on holidays alone. To avoid this financial strain of the holidays, we have come up with 10 easy ways to have a magical Christmas without overshooting the budget.
1. Review what you did last year
Make a list of gifts you bought and things you did last year. Think about all who you gave gifts to. This list can help give you an idea whether you overspent and where you can make changes this year to save money.
2. Develop a budget
Budgeting for the holidays starts with making detailed lists of people you are giving gifts to. Do not forget to include non-family members too. Make sure you add in the cost of gasoline, babysitting fees, eating out at restaurants and other expenses most families incur during the season. Once you come up with a list, divide it into wants and needs. This is an easy way to minimize your expenses and have some extra money left over.
3. Get family members on board
Get your family members on board in order to set expectations right. Decide ahead what you will spend on each person and mention a spending limit so everyone knows what each one can spend.
4. Reuse decorations
How about a zero waste Christmas or other holiday where you use existing decorations or create new ones yourself. You can reuse the inflatable snowman, Santa or reindeer to put up in the yard. You can also reuse the lights – an essential part of holiday home decoration. Here are some more ideas you can try with your kids:
- Make decorations from items like Popsicle sticks, cotton wool, strings etc. You can get your kids to make a wreath using pasta shells and other food items.
- Use cranberries or popcorn to decorate the tree.
- Buy (or use items from the yard) such as flowers or pinecones from local farmers’ markets.
- Save gift wrapping paper, paper plates and disposable cups and make them into holiday crafts.
Here are some great holiday decoration ideas when you are on a budget.
5. Give handwritten notes or homemade goodies
A heartfelt handwritten note can go a long way in conveying your holiday message in place of a store-bought card. Handwritten notes are especially ideal for giving to non-family members like babysitters, hairstylists and others who help you on a day to day basis. It is a thoughtful way of showing them your thanks without spending too much.
6. Consider making purchases throughout the year
Many families feel the stress of shopping during the season. By buying things throughout the year, and purchasing items on sale, you can save money and also beat the rush. Many holidays are close to each other, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, so consider shopping for these at the same time.
7. Pay with cash where possible
When you pay with credit cards it is easy to lose track of your spending. So pay with cash instead and do not forget to look for hidden fees on all items you buy.
8. Shop smart
Store sales can be very tempting and can easily lure you into unnecessary shopping. Carry a list of items you want and also a list of your budget. Always review store ads and newsletters, so you can buy items on sale. Planning your shopping trips in advance can help you stay organized and within budget. When buying electronics, decide carefully about spending on warranties which can add up to a considerable cost. Think who will be using the item and for how long. This will help you decide whether buying the warranty is a smart decision.
9. Consider your shipping costs
The postal service comes up with great deals during this time of the year. Take advantage of this to save money on your shipping budget. A great example: flat rate shipping irrespective of the weight of the parcel. Make sure you compare all available choices and also factor in shipping of fragile items etc.
10. Set up new holiday traditions
Instead of hosting a party where you cook everything, ask your friends/family to bring in a dish each where you just cook the main dish. You can also have lucky draws for gifts so each person draws a name, but has to buy just one gift. This way, everyone receives a gift as well.
The weeks leading up to the holidays can be stressful, especially if money is a little tight this year. With a little bit of planning and budgeting, you can reduce costs and celebrate family traditions without going bankrupt.