December is here and together with it, we all know that a new season of joy, happiness and…spending is just around the corner. With Christmas and New Year’s Eve as the most important celebrations of the month (and as some of the most important ones in the year), most people will spend a lot of money on food, gifts, partying and all the other trifles that eventually sum up to huge amounts of money.
Most of you may have already resigned with the idea that Christmas and December in general mean spending a lot of money. However, you should definitely know that things can work in other ways as well – and that you can get through Christmas without spending huge amounts of money and without feeling that you’re missing out on the marvelous things this holiday can offer.
Following, we have put together the best 10 tips to help you save money this December. Read them, follow them and have the best Christmas ever!
1. Plan ahead
Now, we know that it is extremely difficult to plan ahead, but trust us when we say that it is worth it. The reason this works is quite easy to understand.
Imagine yourself going to the supermarket on December 19th, not having much of an idea what to buy, who to buy it for and so on. You will wander around the supermarket, picking up everything that catches your eye and looks attractive – or everything that’s on discount. That’s a marketing strategy every store uses on Christmas (and generally speaking on holidays) and the very reason why it is very likely to find cute and funny plush toys in the middle of the frozen veggie aisle – so that you feel attracted to it and buy it when you see it.
You may not realize it, but this could save you a ton of money. In fact, this is one of the main reasons a lot of people overspend when they go out and shop – regardless of whether they shop for groceries or for Christmas presents.
Instead of allowing yourself to be taken by the “wave”, plan everything ahead. Think of what you are going to buy (including the ingredients you will need for the Christmas dinner) and think of the person that you’re going to buy it for. When you go out shopping for these items, go straight to them and don’t waste your time around the supermarket or mall.
2. Shop online
If you want to avoid wasting a lot of time out shopping and if you want to avoid buying products you don’t actually need (see tip #10 here), give online shopping a try. It’s faster, more comfortable and yes, it can save you money.
The thing with online shopping is that it allows you not necessarily to save a lot of money, but to avoid spending it. Online shopping gives you a bit more time to think things through, to analyze a product and to read about its quality. You are less likely to make irrational decisions simply because you saw something cute.
Of course, over-spending and spending on unnecessary things can be troublesome when shopping online as well (especially if you use your credit card relentlessly). However, it could be a best option for Christmas.
Plus, you have much better chances of getting some really nice discounts when shopping online – even with stores that have offline shops as well. The key lies in knowing how to search your product and how to find the best deal on it. Also, remember to plan these online purchases ahead of time as well because it will allow you to have them shipped to you in time for the big Christmas Eve.
Create redeemable coupons for something you are really good at – cooking dinner, baking beautiful cakes, organizing paperwork or magazines, and so on. Offer them to your close friends and relatives and they will definitely love having you offer them a “service” in exchange for the coupon. This is a fun idea and it costs basically nothing.
4. About Big Parties
Christmas is mostly about gathering with friends and family. Yes, throwing a big party is a great and beautiful idea and you know everyone will feel excellent. However, if you are tight on money, you should definitely not be afraid to tell people what to bring. You can save quite some money by having some of your guests bring the drinks, for example. After all, everyone will gather around the table and there’s no shame in having your guests contribute as well. It will even make them feel more useful and more like they are part of the celebration!
5. Forget about Wrapping Paper
Yes, wrapping paper does not cost much. But the truth is that when you are on a tight budget, every dollar you save can be of extreme importance. You can save a lot of money on gift wrapping paper by buying it at discount stores or by “recycling” gift bags you may have received throughout the year. Also, remember to buy wrapping paper this January so that you have plenty next Christmas. Usually, holiday-related items go on clearance right after Christmas and you can save a lot of money this way (and not only on paper, but on Christmas decorations and other Christmas-related things as well).
6. DIY Gifts
If you have a skill, bring it into Christmas. Remember that Christmas is not so much about how expensive a present is, as it is about the nice feeling it awakens in the person who receives it. You may be a great seamstress, you could knit or you could make the most amazing cookies. Trust us when we say most of your relatives and friends would be more than happy to receive a handmade gift from you.
For instance, back in high school I got to be “Secret Santa” for this really rich classmate. Since I did not have much money to buy him a gift, I made him some French crepes filled with Nutella. He loved them – he probably loved them even more than he would have loved something that would have been bought at the mall.
If you have coupons or vouchers lying around the house and you know they are still valid, USE them. You may feel that they are not saving you a lot of money, but if you add up everything, they may be absolutely great. Even if you only spend $20, that could still be important (for instance, you could use that money for holiday cards).
8. Sending Cards
Speaking of cards, you can easily save a lot of money by sending Christmas cards instead of gifts – especially when it comes to far-off relatives you are not even very close to. If you want to add a touch of personality and charm to your cards, you can make them yourself or ask someone to help you edit your photo/a photo of your family into a nice Christmas card wish.
9. Don’t Avoid Discount Stores
You might find that it’s extremely difficult to save money this Christmas if you only shop at one supermarket. Shopping around, on the other hand, can and will save you money. One supermarket may have a product that is cheaper than the other supermarket so don’t be afraid to shop around. It might take a bit more time, but it will be worth it. Even more than that, don’t forget about discount stores. Sometimes, they are a great way to buy delicacies and products that are usually quite expensive at prices that are much lower.
10. It’s All About the Celebration
Too many of us think that Christmas is about money and gifts and too many of us forget that it’s about something completely different: it is about being with the people you love, about spending quality time with them and having a bit of fun. You don’t need a lot of money to be happy – you just need to have a “holiday spirit”. Your guests will enjoy your Christmas dinner even if it’s not the fattest goose on the table or if you don’t serve French cheese! As long as you do everything with love and your heart is open to them, they will all enjoy your dinner, your gifts and your presence.
Merry Christmas, everyone!