The holidays are all about giving, but it can be a tricky task to act out pure generosity without finding yourself penniless come new year. Luckily, with a bit of creativity and foresight, you can indulge in all your favorite holiday traditions while barely making a dent in your normal finances. All you need is a bit of planning, a strict budget, and a touch of imagination.
- Find an Alternative to Traditional Gift Giving
For those with large families full of extended relatives, try coordinating a group shift to an alternative idea. There are many ways to celebrate and express your appreciation without buying an expensive, personalized gift for each individual family member. One popular less conventional, yet equally fun family activity is opting for a Secret Santa where each family member randomly chooses another to shop for. Each recipient then has to guess who their “Santa” was. White elephant or gift swap is another great game for family and friends to minimize spending while maximizing fun. Homemade and Do-It-Yourself gifts and cards are another excellent way to cut costs while increasing thoughtfulness.
- Write a Budget and Stick to it
The key to cutting back on Holiday spending is as simple as traditional budgeting. Consider your income, possible holiday bonuses, and any supplemental income you’ll be expecting. Write a clear list of each person on your gift list, people to whom you want to send cards, travel expenses, and any additional planned parties. Be stringent with your budget and plan what you’ll buy ahead of time to avoid splurging on impulse buys. Check the internet for sales ahead of time. Carry your budget on your smartphone or in your purse so you’ll have no excuse to not follow it. Price Grabber is a great tool for analyzing competitive prices. C Net is an excellent way to ensure your money spent on expensive electronics is getting the best possible value.
- Curb your Spending on Food
With an increase in family members, parties, and events, food is the easiest expense to go out of control if left unmonitored. You might be surprised how much you can save with a few small adjustments to your shopping strategies. Choose recipes that use in-season produce to minimize costs. Keep a close eye on quantity and be sure not to over-buy. Hosting a party? Consider throwing down potluck-style. This way you can cut down on wasted leftover food, excessive spending, and each guest can have a chance to shine with their most expert dish. Grocery Saving Tips is a great resource loaded with excellent budgeting tips to save on food, holidays or not.
- Search for Seasonal Supplementary Income
Look for a supplementary source of income. Many retail stores hire seasonal staff. Other seasonal jobs include delivery driving, food service, childcare, and staffing Christmas fairs or other Holiday events. An extra 5-10 weekly hours is significant, and can often displace holiday costs completely. Additionally, consider selling old electronics and furniture, as the holiday months are the most popular times for second-hand shopping.
- Make your Own Cards
In place of sending traditional Christmas cards, consider one of the many alternatives to reach out to loved ones. E-cards, old postcards or hand-made cards can be equally thoughtful and significantly cheaper! A digital photo coupled with a sentimental, personalized message goes farther than a stock impersonal card. While splurging on a professional family portrait is always appreciated, consider sending more candid photos from earlier in the year. Likewise, money can be saved on wrapping paper by using children’s art, taking advantage of stores that offer complementary wrapping, or saving. Be sure to save paper from this year for next Christmas! The more you engrain these traditions into your family’s celebration habits, the better your finances will be year by year!
To discuss budgeting and personal finance strategies with Millan and Co. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-479-6819 and we’ll schedule an appointment.