Frugal Christmas Ideas
Even though the Christmas holidays always roll around exactly the same time every year, often we realise we are not fully financially prepared for them when it’s too late to start saving. A little bit of advance planning and saving during the year can make a massive difference and help you truly enjoy the holiday period without having to stress too much or get into unnecessary debt.
Add all holiday costs up and divide by the number of pays you have left until Christmas to calculate how much you need to start putting away each pay period. Below are some things to consider when planning ahead:
Presents are definitely one of the biggest holiday expenses. The easiest way to save on them is by doing a “Secret Santa”: if you can’t or want to spend money on buying an individual gift for every family member and friend, simply pick a name out of a hat and give one gift to that one person. That way, you can all save lots of money, but still get together and have a good time – and still receive a thoughtful gift (it will probably end up being something good, since the other person only needs to buy the one present!).
If a Secret Santa exchange is not an option, create a detailed gift list and write down every single family member, friend or colleague you plan to give a gift to and how much you’d be willing to spend on them. Start looking out for sales and discounts today; you never know when you might come across a bargain, because shops just seem to have different sales on every week! It’s also a good idea to let kids know in advance what to expect for Christmas, as it helps shape some limits to prevent the holiday period from getting your family into debt.
When shopping online, you avoid the crowds and it becomes way easier to stick within the budget. If you are planning on shopping online, take the shipping time into account to make sure it gets to you in time for the gift gifting (although I believe in supporting NZ retailers, so I tend to check out my local shops first).
Remember that gifts do not have to be expensive; it’s the thought that counts! If you are on a very tight budget but have a bit of spare time, perhaps, you could look into giving handmade gifts: consider baking, making candles, gifting nicely framed photographs. Don’t forget to check out our blog post about wrapping presents we wrote last year for some great frugal gift wrapping ideas.
Another great Christmas expense is food and drinks, especially if you are hosting other guests. Start planning the holiday menu – including beverages – and make reasonable estimates to how much it would cost to feed each guest. Check the regular supermarket mailers for specials to start stocking up on non-perishables and food you can freeze until Christmas to make the most of the savings. And don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish or a bottle of wine to share – they won’t judge, we promise!
And just a couple of words on Christmas saving schemes: they can be a convenient and reliable way to save for the holidays if you are not disciplined enough to keep setting aside a percentage of your regular pay yourself, however they often come with additional fees that you need to be aware of. Here is a great comparison page that has heaps of useful information on all major Christmas clubs in New Zealand.