Does your Christmas season usually lead to the January blues due to excessive holiday spending? It doesn't have to be that way. With a combination of planning and willpower, you can enjoy a festive holiday without starting the New Year in a big financial hole. Consider these nine ways to celebrate while staying fiscally responsible.
1. Limit Gift Spending – Start by establishing a shopping list and a budget for all of your items. Track special holiday online offers. Consider using price comparison apps and websites. Take advantage of any coupons. Large families can save by drawing names for a gift exchange instead of trying to buy multiple smaller gifts for every family member.
2. Reject Impulse Buying – Retailers expect you to impulse buy at the holidays. Don't oblige them. Stick to the budget that you made, and track your spending as you go. Don't worry if you temporarily give in to temptation – just keep the receipt and take it back when your reserve of willpower returns.
3. Keep Travel Costs Down – If you are flying, try to buy your tickets well in advance – a few months in advance is not unreasonable. Look out for carriers that will allow you to check your bags for free.
Monitor airline and travel sites regularly and sign up for alerts on special deals to your destination. Nearby airports within a reasonable driving distance may provide a better overall deal than an airport at your destination, especially if combined with a great rental car offer.
You may not be able to do much about gas prices, but at least keep your car tires properly inflated to save on gas mileage – and don't waste gas by speeding to your destination. Santa will wait for you.
4. Have a Simple Holiday Meal – Resist the urge to cook enough food to feed a small army (unless you plan to host one). Look for early special deals on ham, frozen turkeys, and other holiday favorites at your local grocery store. Assess the leftovers and plan several meals to get the most out of your holiday food expenses. If it's practical for your family, consider a potluck Christmas dinner to introduce variety while keeping costs to a minimum.
5. Decorate Economically – You don't need a huge tree and enough lights to illuminate the town to have a joyous holiday. Keep decorations simple with a small tree or a re-usable artificial tree, and don't run your lights 24/7. If you're tired of the same old ornaments, wait until the holidays are over and pick up new ones for next year during the clearance sales.
6. Save on Wrapping – Instead of wasting expensive wrapping paper, consider using gift bags that can be reused year after year – or, similarly to decorations, wait until wrapping paper goes on sale after the holidays and stock up for next year.
7. Make Your Own Gifts – A homemade gift such as a knitted sweater or blanket can be inexpensive yet valuable – because the recipient knows that you gave it a personal touch. Do you have any skills that can be transformed into a keepsake?
8. Save on Holiday Entertainment – Instead of taking the gang to a movie over the holiday break, how about a family game night at home? Maybe a touch football game in the backyard? With some creativity, you can find alternative – and cheaper – entertainment options. You could also forgo entertainment entirely and do something meaningful for the holidays, such as volunteer work at a local charity.
9. Set up a Holiday Fund – It may be too late for this Christmas, but when next year rolls around, start a savings fund devoted to the holidays. You will have more holiday funds to work with while establishing a savings mindset that rolls on into the holidays.
Enjoy putting these tips to good use. We wish you a joyous holiday with your family and friends, free of worry about holiday debt and filled with the spirit of the season.
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