Let’s admit that Christmas is AWESOME, but DANGEROUS. Saving money at Christmas just goes out the window, doesn’t it? I don’t think there’s another time of year where it’s just so easy to completely blow your budget without even thinking about it. Everywhere you look at Christmas there is money to be spent.
But how can you save money this Christmas without feeling like you’re missing out?
1. Set a budget
After evaluating your financial situation, set a budget for Christmas gifts and stick to it! There is no reason to go into debt for Christmas presents, and those you are buying gifts for wouldn’t want you to go into debt.
Figure out your Christmas budget and save money this Christmas by sticking to your budget – no exceptions.
2. Write a list and stick to it.
After creating your budget, decide who you will buy gifts for and how much their gift can cost.
Being intentional with the people your Christmas gift-giving list is a great way to save a lot of money on Christmas – the fewer people on your list, the more money you will save!
3. Shop Early
Save money on Christmas gifts by shopping early! There are constantly sales throughout the year so if you know who you’re buying gifts for, you can easily buy your Christmas gifts throughout the year as they go on sale and save them for Christmas.
In order to successfully do this, you need to know who you’ll buy gifts for and what your budget to avoid overspending on Christmas gifts.
4. Track your spending
Make sure to track your spending! It’s easy to go over budget just by spending a few dollars more than you budgeted for on a few gifts.
Take the time to write it down and track all of the money your spending on your Christmas gifts. This is especially important if you start shopping for gifts early to save money as suggested in the tip above!
5. Skip the mall
As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Mtush and second hand are hidden treasure troves filled with potential presents that won’t empty your wallet.
6. Lighten your load on Christmas Day
The costs of entertaining can skyrocket at this time of year. But, with some simple planning, both you and your wallet can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Here are some ways to lighten the Christmas load:
• Share the catering – Even if you’re hosting Christmas Day lunch or dinner, there’s no need to shoulder all the work yourself. Ask others to bring nibblies, drinks, salads or desserts.
• Buy only what you need – It can be easy to overestimate how much food you’ll need at Christmas, only to end up throwing some away or eating leftovers for days.
• Switch supermarkets – Make a list of the groceries you need for Christmas, then take advantage of the competition between supermarkets by checking out the advertised specials and stocking up. Don’t buy everything at the same shop if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. You might even get better deals at your local butcher or fruit shop.
• Use loyalty credits – If you belong to a supermarket loyalty scheme that builds up credit after you’ve spent a certain amount, check if you can use the credit to get a discount on your Christmas grocery shop.
7. If you have to go to the supermarket, shop carefully
If you are going to shop at the supermarket, consider these rules-of-thumb to reduce Christmas shopping stress and limit the temptation to over spend:
• Set a time limit on your shopping – Get in, get it done and get out so you aren’t tempted to spend more than you want to.
• Shop at odd hours – Take advantage of extended trading hours and go when it’s less crowded so you can choose carefully without having to jostle for space.
• Buy less expensive stuff first – If you buy larger and more costly items first you can lose perspective on what is a good price, so set your budget, buy small first, and then tackle the big stuff so you stick to your gift budget.
• Limit your shopping locations – Only go to shops that you need to visit so you don’t get distracted and impulse buy.
Have any other tips that we’ve missed out on? Let us know in the comments!
This article was originally published in MoneySmart