Christmas is a time of good cheer and gift giving—and, unsurprisingly, it’s also when you’re most likely to indulge and splurge. This Christmas, the National Retail Federation expects that Americans will end up spending more than $750 billion. That’s a huge amount even per individual! Amidst hard-to-resist store discounts, gift exchanges, parties to attend, and travel tickets to purchase, December is often the month that will give you the largest dent in your bank account. However, it doesn’t have to be synonymous with overspending. Here are five ways you can enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank.
PLAN YOUR EXPENSES
There’s so much going on during Christmas that it always helps to get organized and make lists! First, jot down all of the people that you’ll be giving gifts to, along with what you’re planning to get for them and the respective cost. Aside from this, whip up another list that consists of tasks—traveling or hosting parties, for example—and include the estimated cost for each. Add up the costs from both lists. If you’re fine with spending that much money, then you can set the total as your budget. Otherwise, remove entries from either list until you reach a comfortable amount. Keep these lists around as reference, and make sure your actual spending is on track using convenient apps like Mint or EveryDollar.
BE CREATIVE WITH GIFTS
The best gifts don’t necessarily come with a hefty price tag. A classic money-saving tip is to indulge your creativity and make your gifts from scratch. Compared to simply buying from a store, going DIY lends a unique, personal touch to your gift, and it’s a way of showing extra appreciation for the recipient! Here’s a compilation of Christmas DIY ideas to get you started, perfect for beginners. Crafts aren’t your only option too, since you can make bread, cookies, and other kitchen goodies. Another method for saving up when it comes to gifts is to enlist some group effort. Instead of splurging on a gift all by yourself, recruit some of your friends or family members to chip in with you!
RESEARCH BEFORE SHOPPING
Every Christmas, you can be sure that there’s a shopping craze—with sales and discounts available in nearly every store, it can be challenging to hold back! Many folks turn to online shopping because items are likely to be priced cheaper, but consider that spending is easier when all you have to do is click away. To shop smart, do your research by comparing prices and looking for online promo codes that’ll get you the best bang for your buck. The same rule about researching applies to physical stores. The ShopSavvy app allows you to scan item barcodes and compare prices real-time. Bringing a printout of your budget keeps your spending in perspective, and you can always coordinate with other people to buy in bulk for a cheaper rate.
MAKE BUDGET-FRIENDLY HOLIDAY TRADITIONS
At the heart of Christmas traditions is delighting in the company of your friends and loved ones. Among these, giving and receiving gifts is a fun and thoughtful way to celebrate. Err towards the side of practicality by doing it Secret Santa style, where everyone picks out a name and gives a gift only to that person. Rather than worrying about having to prepare several gifts, you concentrate on one—and save money in the process. Placing a dollar limit on your gift budget also eases the pressure on everyone. As for the larger topic of parties and get-togethers, hosts can coordinate potluck assignments, still preparing the main dish but delegating appetizers, sides, and desserts to specific guests.
PAMPER YOURSELF WITHOUT SPLURGING
Part of the appeal of Christmas is that it lies at the end of the year and gives us a chance to unwind and take a break. It’s great for catching up on self-care! Pair this with the holiday shopping whirlwind, and we predictably go overboard on treating ourselves and buy unnecessary things. Pampering yourself doesn’t have to mean testing the limits of your credit card. Why not spare yourself the effort by adding the item you want to your wish list for other people to get as a gift? You can also cut the impulse by buying after Christmas when prices will plunge down again. Besides, there are so many budget-friendly options for relaxing, such as attending free events and watching Christmas movies on Netflix.
For all the glitz and shopping associated with it, Christmas is all about what can’t be bought—having a good time, bonding with loved ones, celebrating with the rest of the world. Practice any of these budget-friendly tips, and you’ll find yourself still having a blast while having more money to spare! And let us know if you have any tips or hard-earned advice of your own in the comments!