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The holidays can be rough. We’re enduring so much pressure to buy the new toy, get the latest gadgets, and tend to a long list of people we need to gift.
But, the holidays shouldn’t be that way. You can still have a wonderful celebration with friends and family without spending hundreds of dollars in December. Spending less money during the holidays is possible and it won’t leave you feeling like you’re inadequate.
When we were paying off debt, we had to change the way we spent our money.
At first, it was uncomfortable.
We didn’t want our friends and family to take note that we were practicing frugality. We thought that frugality still meant cheap, so we didn’t want to associate ourselves with this image.
After doing some soul searching and mindset shifting, we discovered that frugality was actually our ticket to debt freedom. And with this ticket, we were able to go on the path of wealth building too.
So, our notion about frugality quickly transformed and became one of pride. We are proud to be frugal because it means that we are responsible and mindful with our spending.
Frugality means that we care and spend on the important things, while saving on the things that don’t matter.
With that being said, frugal holidays can still be a challenge, so I wanted to give you some easy tips to keep your holiday affordable, while still enjoying it to the fullest.
Here are 5 Affordable Ways to Enjoy Your Holidays Debt-Free
1- Limit Gifts to the Kids
A few years ago, our entire family, which is pretty huge, migrated to only purchasing gifts for each others’ kids. This makes the gift giving process much easier and much more budget friendly.
That reduced our gift list by about 10 people or more (not counting the entire 50-person family here).
Now, we buy for about 6 kids, not including our own and it’s just a simpler process.
2- Couples Gifts Instead of Individual Gifts
For friends or close family who don’t have kids, you may decide to buy them a gift. Think about buying something both of them could use instead of an individual gift.
It’s just as thoughtful, since you’re encouraging quality time for them.
This could be a restaurant gift card, something for their home, or some adventure they’ve wanted to try.
3- Start a Gift Closet
I can’t emphasize how much a gift closet has changed my life. It has been such a lifesaver on so many occasions and it was seriously the best decision I made to save on gifts.
You don’t necessarily have to spare an entire closet for this, but even just a small space in your home that can be used for gift storage will do.
If you are preparing for Christmas and birthdays ahead of time, you can search for the best prices, search for better quality pieces, and never feel like you’re being rushed into buying an expensive gift.
I’ve saved hundreds of dollars shopping sales throughout the year that make perfect gifts.
The trick is to buy gifts that work for certain age groups or genders, then personalize it once you know the receiver. This way, it’s thoughtful, but kept your costs low.
4- Have a List and a Budget for Each Person
Having a list makes it easier for you to keep track of your spending and minimizes unnecessary items you put in your cart.
And when you add a budget to each person on the list, you get to plan ahead how much you are willing to spend. Doing this eliminates the choices we have to make to buy something because the budget will determine which items we CAN buy.
This sort of forces us to me mindful when we are shopping. It keeps us in control of our spending and eliminates surprises with our total expenses. If we keep track and stick to our list, we can eliminate the unpleasant shock in January.
5- Save in Advance
We all know Christmas is coming….every single year. So, we can plan ahead and start saving from January.
Determine how much you’ll need in total for Christmas, including gifts and any entertainment or travel costs. You can use the previous year as a starting point.
If you feel like you overspent last year, try to reduce your budget by 25% to get it to where you are comfortable.
Then, divide that total by 12 months (January- December).
This will help you save in smaller, more manageable amounts throughout the year so that it’s not overwhelming.
Planning ahead can save you time, money, and stress.
6- Bake or Make Instead of Buy
If times are really tight and you just can’t afford to buy items in the store, that’s okay.
You can use Pinterest to come up with ideas your family will love and you can learn to make the gifts yourself.
Your family will appreciate the thoughtful gesture and it will mean just as much as a store bought gift.
One year, I made a small loaf of amazing banana bread for each person in my office. It cost me about $5 in ingredients and I made 4 loaves. They absolutely loved it and kept complimenting me on my gift.
These gifts will take more time and energy but can save a lot of money. Take time to plan for things you can make a few months before Christmas (scarves, gloves, etc.) so you are not scrambling to get your crafting done last minute.
7- Make A Gift Basket
Gift baskets look expensive, but if you are a savvy shopper, you can find some really inexpensive gift items that will be beautiful once combined in a gift basket. Think about pairing some inexpensive smaller gifts with one main gift so that the basket is a little more balanced.
A good size basket can cost about $10-$15 if you shop for bargains and shop early.
8- Use Rakuten
This is one of my secret savings strategies that I use for everything!
All you have to do is go to the website, login and start shopping at your favorite stores. The website automatically tracks your purchases and gives you cash back on those items.
It’s like using a coupon without taking time to clip them.
I’ve saved hundreds of dollars with Rakuten over the years and virtually never make a purchase online without logging in first.
It’s extra savings on things you were planning on buying anyway.
9- Use Rewards, If Possible
If you have rewards or points at department stores, this is the best time to use them. I like to save them if I can (if they don’t expire) and use them for gifts throughout the year.
It saves my gift budget and I can get items sometimes completely free.
10- Shop Black Friday with caution
Nothing starts off shopping for the holidays quite like the frenzy that is Black Friday. I’ll say right now that this is not my favorite way to save money.
Black Friday shopping is really hyped up and can be disastrous to your budget if you’re not careful.
So, I advise that you shop Black Friday with caution. Make sure you go in with a list. Shop only for the things on that list, and keep your eyes focused on what is needed. Don’t stray and don’t buy anything just because it happens to be a good deal.
The faster you shop and exit the store, the more likely you will stick to your list and your budget.
Shop only if you are strong enough to withstand the temptation to buy the entire store, haha.