Ways to save money this holiday season
With the holidays just around the corner, now more then ever I’m looking for ways to cut costs, yet still have an enjoyable holiday season. The rising costs of everything is really making me want to dig in my heels and bury my head under my pillows.
Cut Costs Tip #1 – Make Your Own Decorations
There are literally hundreds of sites out there on ways to make your own holiday decorations, from simple crafts to far more complicated methods. Many of them also show you ways of using what you already have around the house so that you don’t have to spend any additional money. This is also a good way of getting the children involved in something constructive, as well as teaching them valuable lessons about what the holidays mean to your family.
Cut Costs Tip #2 – Make Your Own Gifts
Who said that everything had to come from a store? Those with a crafty touch can make their own gifts, often times at a fraction of the cost that a store-bought gift would run. Handmade gifts also have a more intimate touch, and can be passed down throughout generations. Some ideas include baby blankets, scarves, mittens, curtains, memory books, scrapbooks, the list goes on and on. Another idea for the less crafty is food. Who doesn’t like homemade cookies, cakes and other decadent treats? Put them in a decorative tin and voila, instant gift. Great for hostess gifts as well. The best part about homemade treats is that you can tailor them for family or friends’ diets. Diabetic uncle with a sweet tooth? Sugar free cookies or fudge might just do the trick. Investigate ways that you can really hit the spot for a loved one.
Cut Costs Tip #3 – Plan Ahead With A Holiday Planner
This is the one thing that seems to get tossed onto the back burner. But its one of the easiest ways to save money around. Create a Holiday Planner, and plan out your holiday season. Over time this can really save you money. By planning ahead you can get gifts at low sale prices, if you know what family members want. Write down all those little things that family members show interest in, then watch for the item to go on sale. No more rushing around at the last minute and ending up with not well thought out gifts. You can also use the planner to ensure you have everything you need for your holiday feasts. This can also work year round.
Cut Costs Tip #4 – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
I’m not talking bottles and cans here. I’m talking about all the stuff an average household has. The same story plays out time and time again, “I bought stuff early in the year for gifts, and now I can’t find them!”. By clearing out regularly the stuff you no longer love or need, you will be able to unearth those items, and maybe find something a loved one will absolutely adore. Without spending money. Give your extra (and probably unused) kitchen gadgets to a family member who loves to cook, or the young adult just starting out on their own for the first time. Got a family heirloom that you absolutely hate but your brother loves? Give it to them. There are more then enough items in a house that someone else will love or need more then you, and won’t hurt your budget in the slightest. Which brings me to my next point.
Cut Costs Tip #5 – Budget
This isn’t exactly original advice, but a budget, and sticking to it, can make a world of difference when those bills come rolling in. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on each person. Note that I didn’t say how much you WANT to spend, that’s what gets us all in trouble. Once you have that figure in mind, decide how you are going to spend it. Lets just say for the sake of argument that you decide that you can afford $100 per child, $50 on your significant other, and $50 on miscellaneous family gifts. How are you going to spend it? Lets say you have two children. Child #1 is a technology guru, he/she always has to have the latest “hot” item. Child #2 is the bookworm, always able to be lost for hours in books and studying. By knowing the person you are buying for, that makes things easier. Child #1 wants the newest video game (Guitar Hero), so lets say $70 right there. So what are you going to do with the other $30? Well, you could budget another $20 for a PS2 game and also give them a $10 gift card to the gaming store of their choice. By knowing how you are going to spend your money, you will get what each person would really want, and will also know what to do with any extra money. And you are far less likely to blow your budget.
The holidays can be a very stressful time of year, but they do not have to put you in the poor house. With a little time and planning you can make the most out of what you have. Memories are far more important, and seem to have less value sometimes in this day and age.