Although the holidays could be fun, the aftermath can bring about dire repercussions, especially when the bills start piling up come January.
Somehow, the significance of Christmas as the birth of Jesus seems to have been replaced by the need to impress, splurge on presents and treat guests to exquisite dishes all in the spirit of celebration.
While this greatly fosters the bonding process and love sharing — which is what the season is about — kinda, it also translates to an accumulation of bills in the long run.
This isn’t to say the family gatherings and gift exchanges are not necessary. However, while these sweet Christmas traditions should not be discarded altogether, it is important to figure out alternative ways to cut down on spending while at it.
After all, no one would care that the only reason you can’t afford the bus fare to work come January was that you had to spend your cash buying gifts for the boss, and perhaps your colleagues.
That said, here are seven surefire ways to save you that burden, help you save this Christmas, and keep you from going completely broke at the end of the holidays.
1. Tap Into Your Creativity
The beautiful thing about DIYs is that they let you conserve the environment by recycling materials at home while embracing your creativity.
And as a bonus, you get to make an item of your choosing, based on the preference of the person you had in mind or the decorative purposes they would serve. That’s something you don’t find in the stores.
So rather than spend a fortune on Christmas sweaters, mufflers, or beanies, why not get a headstart by knitting these wooly items yourself grandma-style months prior.
Knitting isn’t your thing? Not to worry, there are millions of DIY projects to embark on this season that would only cost a bit of your time and old items lying around the house be it for gifting or as tree ornaments.
From flower vases to oddly-shaped throws, these items make for good Christmas presents and the ideal option if you’re into gag gifts. What’s more? You can always reuse gift wrappers and boxes.
2. Make A shopping List and Stick To It
Ever wandered into a store and become enthralled by the plethora of items on display? Chances are you answered yes to that question, which only shows you’re human.
However, exercising moderation is when the discipline comes in. Avoid falling victim to the shopping momentum effect by having a defined shopping list on hand before embarking on your holiday splurging.
The list should contain every intended purchase, including gift items, cooking ingredients, decorations, and clothing items. It also helps to indicate the price limit in front of each item to keep your spending in check.
That way, it becomes easier to overlook items you never planned for no matter how appealing they look on the counter.
One could also decide against purchasing items on the list that exceed the planned budget and possibly replace it on the spot with a price-friendly alternative.
This requires maximum discipline, but the overall joy of sticking to that budget successfully would be worth it.
3. Explore Sales, Loyalty Programs And Coupons
Another way to survive the holidays without going broke is by looking out for discounts of any sort. Whether they come as discount sales, loyalty programs, or free vouchers and coupons, the goal is to save as much as possible while shopping.
That said, it is common to find stores offering clearance sales or the likes at Christmas. Some also utilize the season as a means of appreciating loyal customers. Don’t be shy to ask about such programs in your neighborhood stores and make the most of it.
4. Pay With Cash
Studies have shown that people, especially millennials tend to go overboard when shopping online. While some do this under the influence, others just find themselves on a shopping rampage seconds after clocking in to purchase one item.
The common denomination here is that in all cases, the payment is done using credit cards. Interestingly, one can easily become engrossed in the thrills of shopping when the result of those spending doesn’t hit home immediately.
That’s exactly what a credit card does. Hence, to avoid that false sense of spending freedom, stick to only cash purchases throughout the season.
That way, one can reflect on the relevance of each item compared to the cash they were about parting with before adding them to the cart.
5. Clamp Down On Travel Expenses
Let’s be real, everyone can not always be present at the traditional family Christmas dinner each year. So if you can’t make it across countries or states for the annual get-together without breaking the bank, chances are they would understand.
Notwithstanding, knowing how special the season is for families and friends, it helps to find alternative means of traveling that could cost less. If flying first class seems unaffordable, try the economy class.
If that too drives you over budget, explore road travel options, and where available, take the train or look out for group travel parties heading to your destination.
What matters is ensuring you don’t incur credit card debts while trying to impress loved ones during the holiday.
All the effort would amount to naught if they have to spend the next months watching you worry about paying off debts, or worse, asking them for handouts.
6. Set Realistic Goals
One proven means of cutting down holiday expenses is through realistic goal setting. Granted, getting presents for every kid on the block, all the relatives and office colleagues would make you the most loved in the building. But it also makes you broke.
Therefore, it is important to create an overall budget at the beginning of the season and set the money aside in a different credit card.
Then prepare a scale of preference to determine everything and everyone on your Christmas to-do list in order of importance, bearing the Christmas budget in mind.
Having a realistic plan keeps you from splurging on unnecessary items, and being forced to go over budget when the non-negligible things come to mind.
7. Opt For Low-Cost Activities
It is common to look forward to paid activities like going to the movies, visiting Disneyland, or dining at a high-end restaurant at Christmas. However, why indulge in these activities when you could explore less-expensive alternatives.
Rather than hit the movies, grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy a family favorite Christmas movie for free, right after enjoying a special homemade Christmas delicacy.
Attending carols or participating in in-house karaoke could also suffice for paid concerts while building a snowman or snow-balling just might live up to the thrill of Disneyland.
In the end, Christmas is about the laughter, joy and memories made, not the amount spent to make it look good. As the saying goes, cut your coat according to your cloth.