It's not quite Thanksgiving, but the Christmas season is rapidly approaching. Can you have a wonderful holiday while keeping your expenses down? Of course, you can. All it takes is willpower – and a plan.
If you are having trouble making a plan, feel free to use the following five ideas as a starting point.
- Don’t Overspend on Gifts – Easier said than done, you say? Not necessarily. You can keep your gift expenses down by making a budget, shopping early, shopping online for deals, and using any coupons or discounts available. If you really want to ensure that you do not overspend, leave the credit cards at home and pay in cash.
It is best if you can get the whole family to agree to keep gift expenses down. Some families draw names so each member does not feel obligated to buy gifts for everyone else.
Finally, consider making your gifts instead of buying them. Keepsakes such as knitted clothing or handcrafted art will not only save money but may well become family treasures.
2. Keep Decorations Simple –You do not need a massive tree, or even a real tree, to retain the Christmas spirit. Go with a smaller or artificial tree, stick with simple ornaments, and avoid disposable items such as tinsel.
Lights are fine, but there is no need to overdo it and light up (or potentially brown out) the neighborhood. A few simple strings of newer and more energy efficient lights will keep energy costs down. You don't have to keep them on 24/7, either.
After the Christmas holiday, you can check at hobby, craft, and big-box stores for clearance decorations that you can store for next year's use. You might be able to save on future gifts at the same time. However, stay away from the clearance candy aisle or you will spend (and eat) more than you should.
3. Save on Travel – If you are traveling by air over the holidays, keep a watch on prices and buy your ticket as early as you reasonably can. Airlines are packed over the holidays and prices can spiral for the few remaining seats. Consider nearby airports within reasonable driving distance – you may be able to find a good enough deal to cover rental car expenses and the extra time involved.
Drivers may be at the mercy of local gas prices, but you can save a little gas money by making sure tires are properly inflated, driving at the speed limit, and avoiding side trips.
If you have to, consider holding your Christmas holiday gathering early or late to allow travelers to arrive when airfares are a bit more reasonable.