How to be Frugal During The Holidays
As the holiday season approaches, people are starting to draft their budget plans for the upcoming festivities. This year the average holiday shopper is expected to spend more than $750 for gifts. About half of those people will also spend an average of $132 on items for themselves. If your goal is to have fun but also save some money in the process, there are several ways to remain frugal in times when societal pressures and family traditions force you to spend, spend and spend more.
It’s possible to get through the holidays without breaking your budget or going into debt. It takes a little bit of effort and some planning, but by January 1st, it will be worth all the hard work.
Learn how to be frugal during the holidays with these great tips:
Shop Early to Get the Best Deals –
Saving up money for gifts to be purchased as the holiday nears is often a less efficient way of getting things done. Instead, shop for your family and friends one gift at a time months in advance. This makes the typically arduous process of shopping for gifts less stressful since you don’t have to fall in long cashier lines nor fight with fellow shoppers for those last pair of shoes or pants. Shopping early lets you take advantage of discounts and seasonal pricing trends.
Choose Your Method of Payment Wisely –
Of course, cash is still the best way to purchase goods and services. Nowadays, however, the reality is that most people use plastic, especially when signing off on big purchases. If you plan on charging your holiday expenses on your credit card, make sure you choose the right card that charges the lowest interest rate. If you’ve maxed out your credit card limits, settle it now before the holiday season arrives.
Plan the Feast Ahead of Time –
Most holiday expenses revolve around food. After all, what better way to celebrate an important date than to eat a great deal of good food with good company? There are many ways to prepare a delicious feast without burning through your entire life savings or emergency fund. For example, for the dining table decor, source the materials from the cloth store’s bargain section or pick out an on-sale cloth piece with a unique design.
Ditch the Disposables –
Disposable cups, plates, and utensils are usually the go-to supplies for people who don’t want to spend the entire night washing and drying the dishes after the party. It’s also thought of as a relatively cheaper way to host an event with dozens of guests. From a long-term utility perspective, however, real plates and utensils are cheaper since you don’t need to replenish them every time there’s an event. You can use them for years, especially if you only use the plates for special occasions. Those disposable items can really add up too!
Decorate with Things You Have on Hand –
You don’t need to buy expensive flower arrangements or branded lights to decorate your household inside and out. Be creative and resourceful by decorating with organic items in your backyard or art supplies you have on hand. For example, to get a good lighting ambiance without spending too much on rustic candle holders, use colorful glasses that you already have and wildly patterned teacups. It will look super quaint and save you money.
More Holiday Money-Saving Tips:
- Don’t send out printed Holiday cards this year. Try using email to send a picture of the kids or just post a picture on Facebook wishing everyone a happy holiday. Most people use the Internet and are just as happy to look at the card online. Printing out cards and buying stamps and envelopes can be really costly. Use an online service such as Paperless Post to send them this year.
- Consider making your own wrapping paper instead of buying it. Brown paper bags with big red bows are a great idea. The newspaper also makes nice paper to wrap the gifts in. A page from a magazine will work well for a small gift. Let the kids color on butcher paper or construction paper and then use it to cover the holiday gifts.
- Decorate your house with things from nature. Pine cones with glitter will sparkle on the tree or in a bowl on the dining table. Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them throughout the house. Dry, long, and curving branches can also make for a nice decorative sculpture.
- Go out and sing Christmas carols with the kids to some of the nearby homes. It doesn’t cost a thing and the neighbors and the kids will love it. It gets everyone into the Holiday spirit.
- Draw names out of a hat with the extended family to do a “Secret Santa” type of gift exchange instead of buying a gift for everyone. Set a price point that everyone can afford.
- Make a budget and stick to it. It can be tempting to spend extra, but in the end, it will not be worth it. Don’t go into more debt this holiday season.
- Focus on free or inexpensive family activities. Have a board game night with popcorn and other inexpensive treats. Sit back, relax, and watch some classic holiday movies together!
- Go to the local thrift shop or Goodwill and be ready to find some great Christmas decorations. There are all kinds of treasures just waiting to be found.
- Make gifts for the family and ask them to do the same. It can be fun to be creative and it will be surprising to see all the amazing gifts that can be made with a little ingenuity.
- Black Friday is a good time to get some bargains, as well as Cyber Monday by shopping online. Study the ads and make a plan. It is a great way to get some awesome discounts.
- Use cash for the gifts. Put money in envelopes. Each person on the gift list will have a designated amount.
- Remember the reason for the season. It is not about money, it is about love and spending time with family and friends. Many people find they have amazing holidays when they stick to the budget.
The holiday season shouldn’t be a time to worry about staying financially afloat. It should be a time of happiness and celebration with the people you love and care about. Then again, several dollars in holiday savings won’t hurt your life after the holiday parties and season dial down. Try to make the most of the holiday season, but don’t go into debt because of it.