The holidays are less than six weeks away and if the thought of spending money you don’t have on holiday gifts leaves you feeling full of panic, take a deep breath, sip some eggnog and follow these tips on how to have a frugal festive season.
Have a Pre-Christmas Declutter
Not only will you get rid of stuff you no longer need, thus making the house look a lot tidier for those holiday guests, having a declutter can bring in extra cash. Throw a garage sale, list a few items on ebay, or check out the local buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. Just remember, if you are selling things on Craigslist, or a Facebook group stay safe. Offer to meet a potential buyer at a public place and not at your home.
Set a Christmas Budget and Stick to it
Work out your budget in advance and decide how much you are financially able to spend on gifts. Then STICK TO IT! Visit Pinterest and search for holiday gift list printables. There are tons of free printables out there to help you keep track of gifts purchased and how much spent. Prefer to keep a handy list on your phone? Check out the app store for apps like Santa’s Bag, GiftPlanner and Christmas Gift List.
Email Christmas Cards
Save on stamps and email Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa cards. If you do like to mail a card, stick with a postcard – they’re cheaper to mail.
Big Family? Start a Secret Santa Tradition
Large families are great fun during the holiday, but trying to find the money to buy gifts for everyone – not so great. Why not start a new Secret Santa tradition where you all purchase one gift for a set amount. Not only will your other cash-strapped relatives thank you, but it’s also a lot of fun exchanging and re-exchanging gifts with one another.
Get Creative with Gifts
During this time of the year consumers are inundated with marketing. Contrary to what the retail industry would like us to believe the holiday season is not just about gifts – it’s about spending time with loved ones. With a few creative touches here and there frugal gifts don’t have to look cheap. Let your imagination run free. Try making a themed gift basket geared to the recipient’s personality such as a movie night basket with a DVD, popcorn and candy, an at home spa basket with bubble bath, lotion, nail polish etc, or a book lovers basket with a couple paperbacks, journal and pen. The possibilities are endless. Homemade baking mixes packed in decorated jars, coupon books for babysitting services, an inexpensive bottle of wine with a couple of magazines, or a photo scrapbook. You don’t have to spend a lot to make someone feel special. Pinterest is full of crafty ideas for frugal gifts. Set up your own “secret” Pinterest board so no one knows just what festive surprises you’re planning. Check out the dollar section at stores for fancy wrapping paper and embellishments.
Take Advantage of Free Shipping
Purchasing postage for mailing packages out of town can really eat into the budget. Instead take advantage of sites that offer free shipping.
Use Your Credit Card Points for Gifts
If you have been using credit cards and racked up points, use those for purchasing gifts. No one will know any different!
The pressure to lavish people with expensive gifts should not force you into taking on unnecessary debt. Close friends and family would not want to see their loved one’s ring in 2017 drowning under a pile of credit card bills. As the old saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts” and it’s true.