Today we’re going to talk about ways to save money during the holidays. The holiday season has officially begun: Halloween decor and candy abounds at the stores, and I’ve even seen a few hints of Thanksgiving and Christmas items peeking around the corners at stores, waiting to be in full bloom.
Regardless of which holidays you celebrate, this clump of celebrations between now and New Year’s can result in a huge impact on a budget. So today we’ll talk about ways to reduce the strain on your money for the next three months.
Different Ways to Save Money During the Holidays
It may seem difficult to do, but it is possible to save money while doing your shopping for the holidays. Today we’ll go over a few of ways in which you can minimize the impact on your budget in three areas that seem to be the most costly during the holiday season.
The holiday season involves gift-giving for almost everyone, whether it be cute little Halloween baskets or expensive Christmas gifts. In order to keep spending reasonable during this holiday season, here are a few ways you be creative with gift-giving.
First, consider quality handmade or homemade gifts, or gifts of service. Every year for Christmas I give my step-dad three gift certificates for haircuts, and use my skills as a former cosmetologist to save me some cash. My step-dad, a well-known
cheapskate frugally-minded man, loves this gift, and the cost to our family’s gift-giving budget is zero. Nada. Nothing.
When planning your gift giving list, think about the people on your list and how you can DIY to benefit both them and to save your pocketbook. Does mom need her house painted? Does dad need his car detailed? Use your hard work and skills to benefit your loved ones with gifts of time and skill that will also help reduce the amount of money you need to spend out-of-pocket this holiday season. Homemade or handmade gift ideas can include baked or canned goods you make well, a scarf or blanket you can sew or knit, or a custom picture frame or calendar you can design. A simple google search for handmade gifts will give you an endless list of ideas.
Second, re-think your gift giving list. Several years ago, both Rick’s siblings and my siblings decided, along with us, that we weren’t going to give gifts to each other any longer, but only to the kids. This has been a major stress-reducer both on everyone’s finances and their time as well, and no one misses those gifts a bit.
Work with family members to find ways to streamline and reduce the gift giving process if possible. If everyone insists on getting gifts, maybe you could do family gifts instead of individual gifts for siblings and their families. Get creative and find other ways to design gifts that will still bring that joy of giving without breaking the bank.
Depending on what your extended family does for each holiday, those holiday family gatherings can get costly. Some families host everything at their house, and shoulder both the entertainment and financial burden, and yet other families insist on lavish and expensive gatherings out for holiday family fun. By working with family members and/or friends to find frugal yet fun gatherings, and by working to make sure that one family doesn’t unwillingly end up shouldering the monetary burden, you can plan family gatherings with just as much fun, yet for a fraction of the cost.
In our house, we host Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. We love doing it, honestly, but it can be expensive to feed 20-30 people. How do we save money during the holidays and yet still host our family for gatherings? By utilizing a few simple tips. First, we keep decor to a minimum, using the same festive decorations we have for years, and having the kids make some homemade stuff as well. It may not be fancy, but our holiday decor is inviting and homey.
Second, everyone brings something. Each family or individual that joins us brings either a side dish, an appetizer or a dessert. This helps spread out the cost of feeding so many people, and also lets the guests join in on the hospitality.
Third, we keep the menu simple. One main dish, a few side dishes/salads, and two or three desserts. We serve milk, water and coffee for beverages, welcoming everyone to BYOB if they want anything else. We’ve done this for years, and everyone in the family is happy with the arrangement. It also allows us to still host our family for holidays without adding a huge strain to our finances.
Out on the Town
Many times the holidays means extra nights out on the town with friends, family members or co-workers. This can add up quick monetarily without some planning in advance. Here are some ways to save money on the holiday gatherings on the town.
First, plan ahead. Know where you’re going, and research the menu to see what items fit into your budget for that event. You can also plan to share a meal with a friend or family member, or search the Internet for a coupon special. Second, eat a bit before hand so that you’re not so hungry when you get there and thus can order a salad or smaller meal instead of a full meal. Third, limit alcohol intake, and drink more water and pop. Alcohol prices are much higher at restaurants.
The best way to save money during the holidays is to plan ahead for all expected expenses. By doing your due diligence and researching ways to spend less ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to have that surprise credit card bill in January.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? Any money saving tips for the holiday budget? Do you travel during the holidays, or does family come to you?
Photo courtesy of: Michael Gil