Ways to save money at Christmas time seems like a topic appropriate to Ebenezer Scrooge and other such jolly folks (don’t you love the name ‘Scrooge’?) On the one hand, the economy in a tailspin, uncertainty is rampant and frankly, it’s only going to get worse. On the other hand, it’s our biggest holiday of the year and we want to have a wonderful time, and especially give our kids a glowing, wonderful Christmas. How do we accomplish both goals? In the spirit of Tiny Tim, here are a few money tips that might help.
1. Take a cold, hard look at your gift list. Are there folks on there that are only a holiday-tradition-in-the-worst-sense-of-the-word? Meaning, you’ve been exchanging gifts for a long, long time but you’re not sure why anymore? They might be relieved to end the tradition, too.
2. One of the best ways to save money is to make a Christmas budget – and then stick to it, no matter what. Yeah, I know. That requires a lot of discipline. But if you’ve budgeted $25 for your niece – and then see a necklace you KNOW she’d adore, and after all it’s only $39.95 and it is on sale …
3. It’s easier to follow these savings tips if you use cash or a debit card, rather than a credit card. After all, a bill that won’t come due for months and months seems a bit easier than cash now. But with a credit card, you might end up spending that $25 now – and $39.95 in the long run.
4. Yes, you’re terribly busy and don’t have time to shop – but do it anyway. Have you ever seen the WalMart parking lot on Christmas eve? It’s enough to make Wonder Woman feel faint. When you’re desperate you grab any old gift and pay way too much. Not always, but why subject yourself to that stress?
5. Time for a real toughie … what about those Christmas cards? Do you truly need to send out 4,261 cards? Want to know how to save money in a big way? Cut back on your list. The cards are expensive, the prep time is lengthy and the postage bill is huge.
6. More advice that seems Scroogie on the surface, but actually makes sense: watch the budget on wrapping paper, bows, gift tags, etc. That beautiful, glittery stuff can really add up, but if you’ve ever seen kids descend on their loot with the enthusiasm of Huns at a massacre, you can see that it’s not quite as important as we always thought it was.
7. And what about some ‘homemade’ gifts? I remember an ornament swap with about 50 close friends and I took an ornament that I had made, rather than purchased. The most fought-over, sought-after ornament at the party was … mine! If you can’t make something practical, then food is always a welcome gift.
8. And now for the toughest ‘how to save money’ tip of all: don’t buy anything for yourself! It’s tempting, and I usually do it myself, rationalizing that I’ll never find such a bountiful ‘whatever’ again in my long and wicked life. But we’re going to be receiving presents at Christmas, as well as giving them, so do we really need that whatchamacallit? Really?
We all want to have a merry Christmas, and that extends to the months after the gala holiday – if we’re not buried under crushing debt. These helpful savings tips are ways to save money and still have a wonderful time.