Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year, but it can also be an expensive time, and anything that helps save money in the run-up to the holiday season and during it is worth taking note of.
It is very tempting to plan for that dream Christmas in which everyone gets exactly what they want, but splashing out on expensive presents, food, and drink and putting off any realistic plan for how it is going to be paid for can only end badly. Setting a realistic budget (downloading a budget planner may be useful) provides a sense of control that might otherwise be absent at the one time of year when the temptation to make compulsive purchases is at its greatest.
It is never too early
Decorating the Christmas tree before the holiday season has even begun is not what would strike most people as practical or wise, but preparing well in advance makes perfect sense from the point of view of saving money. Setting cash aside every month helps spread the cost. Another tip is to have a Christmas cupboard where presents bought at different times of the year can be stored until the holiday season.
Focus on the real meaning
The real message of Christmas is not expensive gifts and an overabundance of food. A great alternative to what can seem to be a never-ending round of gift-giving is to send a thoughtful card rather than a gift. A hand-written, personalized note can have a much deeper and more sincere meaning than even the best thought out present.
The kids are all right
Children do not need expensive presents. Young children especially do not share the retail snobbery that turns some adults into big spenders. Children tend to value gifts not on the price but on the fact that they have received a gift at all.
Trim the present list
People get into the habit of buying each other presents every year, but a great way to save money is for someone to initiate a conservation with family and friends on whether exchanging gifts is really necessary. For a family or a large group of friends, it might make more sense to use the “Secret Santa” system, whereby names are drawn from a hat so that everyone is limited to buying one gift for one other person, and for a predetermined amount of money.
Searching a social media platform such as Twitter using “save money” or another similar term will generate any number of tips on how to keep costs down. Rather than phone friends and family during the holiday season, contact them using Skype or an app such as WhatsApp.
Save on travel
Many people travel to be with family at Christmas, and the increase in demand pushes plane and train prices upward. Booking well in advance of the holiday season ensures a lower plane/train ticket price. For those traveling by road, carpooling with a friend heading in the same direction can be a great way of cutting down on fuel costs. An alternative is to search online forums for people seeking a lift, or offering one to a certain destination.
Share meal costs
If someone is hosting a dinner or party to mark Christmas, they should not feel in any way shy about asking guests to bring food and drink. People will generally be delighted to do so. After all, Christmas is about giving and sharing.
Investing in good-quality decorations prevents unnecessary expenditure each year on lights and all the extras that go toward decorating a house for the festivities. Tangle-free lights are a great purchase because the lights can be tidied away neatly for the year in a way that keeps them in good condition. Using a Tree Dazzler with different light and color schemes means not having to invest in more than one pair of lights for a tree.
Take a breather
Researchers at Yale and Stanford universities have identified what is known as the “shopping momentum effect.” Many people can relate to those shopping trips where one purchase leads to another and then another. To help keep those compulsive purchases to a minimum, it is recommended that a shopper takes a break between purchases to gather their thoughts. The same principle applies to shopping online. The best advice for online shoppers is to step away from the computer screen and do something else for a few minutes.
A joyful Christmas does not have to be an expensive one by any stretch of the imagination, and with some advance planning and prudent spending, it is possible to save on unnecessary expenditure.