1. Set a budget. This may not be a true money-saver, but knowing when to stop is the first line of defence in over spending. Make sure to add in all of the holiday items, not just the gifts. Include stamps for cards, food for family get-togethers, travel costs, a new set of lights for decorating and the office toy donation.
2. Make choices. Once you know how much you have to spend, decide what is the most important to you. Is it better just to give gifts to the children this year? Maybe you can set a spending limit or draw names. Offer to bring a food item to the holiday party instead of an expensive bottle of wine. Buy the wrapping paper and gift tags at the pound store. Pare down the card list to only people you have spoken with in the past year. Buying fewer gifts can also cut down on the stress and the amount of time spent shopping.
3. Shop wisely. Many items are at good prices this time of year which makes it easy to get caught up in the rush. Know what is on your list and compare prices through a price-match website or smart phone application. If you have earned points on your credit card or have gift cards that need used, now is the time to use them. Also, make sure you have a gift list before you go shopping. It is usually the gift bought in desperation at the last moment that blows the budget. A smaller more meaningful or practical gift will be better than something cute or funny that gets regifted next year. Don’t forget to look out for deals and free stuff as well.
4. Choose meaningful entertainment. Attend a tree lighting, decorate cookies, watch a holiday movie, or attend a religious service. There are many activities that will make memories and spend time with loved ones that do not cost any money at all. Better yet, volunteer at the local soup kitchen or food pantry. Even if you can’t afford to make a donation this year, they will always appreciate your time.
5. Avoid the temptations. Advertisements are around every corner this season. Tivo or Sky+ your favourite shows and skip the commercials. Play your own music rather than listening to the radio. Throw out catalogues the minute they enter your home. Limit your time in stores and browsing online. You won’t have to buy anything if you don’t know that it exists in the first place.
The point is not to make you or your loved ones feel deprived but to choose the activities and traditions that truly matter most. Give the important things the time and budget that they deserve. By all means, enjoy the season. A little planning can help to celebrate today and still have money left tomorrow.
This guest post was provided by www.freestuff.co.uk.
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