The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and fun with family. But when the week after Christmas rolls around and your bank account is nearing zero or close to it, it’s hard to not feel the financial crunch.
If you’re already worried about your holiday budget and the effect it might have on your overall finances, it may be time to consider having a frugal Christmas. Not in a throwing-out-the-Christmas-tree-to-save-money kind of way, but in a “Let’s cut costs and reduce spending this year” sort of way.
So to that end, here are 5 tips you can use to have an incredible Christmas even if you’re on a limited budget.
#1: Save up Cashback Points Throughout the Year for a Cheaper Christmas Dinner
From credit card issuers to grocery stores, it seems like everyone’s rolling out a cashback program these days. And this is your chance to cash in.
On a month-to-month basis, chances are you have a list of groceries and other items that you regularly buy. These cashback programs are an opportunity for you to wrack up points for making the exact same purchases that you were going to make anyway.
If you’re able to consistently put away $10 or $20 a month in points, you may be able to get some or even most of your Christmas dinner for free. In a situation where every penny counts, these cashback programs are a financial gamechanger.
#2: Buy Presents Throughout the Year
According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent over $417.8 million on toys, games, and hobby supplies in 2016. And that was just one gift category. While the Christmas shopping season is always really big for retail, there are other opportunities to shop throughout the year that are easy to overlook.
Have you ever noticed how bathing suits often sell like hot cakes in the summer while often going on sale in the dead of winter? Have you ever seen how winter jackets become way cheaper during the summer? If you think about most of the goods you’d normally buy as Christmas presents, there’s often similar cyclical price swings that happen throughout the year.
You can’t go wrong taking advantage of that. Plus, if your Christmas shopping never ends, Boxing Day and New Years sales are an excellent opportunity to cash in on discounted items.
#3: Opt for Creative Gifts Rather Than Expensive Ones
Although pricey gifts do have a certain “Wow” factor, there’s something to be said for finding thoughtful gifts that your friends and family can appreciate throughout the year.
Do you have a bookworm in your family who’s constantly losing their page? A custom bookmark might be a thoughtful but affordable purchase worth making. Similarly, if you have an overworked member of your family, a homemade gift basket or an at-home spa day could make for the perfect Christmas present.
It may take a little bit of time, but thoughtful little presents like these can result in memorable and much-loved gifts while also reducing the strain on your wallet.
#4: Buy Your Candy Right After Halloween
Okay. So maybe watching the kids pull spooky candy wrappers out of their Christmas stockings isn’t exactly “Merry Christmas” material. But the truth is that there’s a lot of holiday-neutral candy that goes unbought each October.
If you’ve traditionally kept a candy stash around during the holiday season, this could be a cheaper way to keep the chocolate coming right into the new year.
#5: Get Creative With Your Shopping
Even if you’ve used up all your points, there are still a number of ways to have a fabulous Christmas while staying within your budget.
For starters, you can try buying store brands instead of name brands or consider making affordable, crowd-pleasing side dishes to serve alongside the turkey.
In addition, grocery stores often have week-only sales on various goods and vegetables. You can try freezing and storing a few throughout the year while you’re building up to the Christmas season. Don’t hesitate to get creative as you plan your holiday season this year.
If you’re like many Canadians, the holiday season is a time for happiness and merriment. However, Decking The Halls during the break is hard to do when you know your bank account is dippling dangerously low. In 2019, it was estimated that over half of Canadians had been planning to cut back on their holiday spending.
Fortunately, it’s definitely possible to have a fantastic Christmas on a shoestring budget. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look and planning ahead.