As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” But trying to do Christmas on a budget can be anything but wonderful, especially when it seems like you have to spend money everywhere you turn.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to have both a festive and frugal holiday season, letting you save money without having to give up the parts of Christmas that you love the most!
So this article will show you four key things to keep in mind this Christmas to help you keep your spending under control.
And if you’re looking for some more specific tips on how to save money during the holidays, then the “We Wish You a Frugal Christmas” series is just what you need!
So let’s get started!
1. The number 1 rule for doing Christmas on a budget: It’s just one day
We all understand the pressure to make the holidays the best, most festive time ever.
You begin to feel that if you don’t meet the standards set by every Christmas movie ever, then you’re an absolute failure as a human being.
Unfortunately, those standards cost money. A lot of money.
Money that would be far better spent on paying off your credit card debt or adding to your investments.
So while creating memories with your loved ones is clearly something to treasure, you should always keep in mind the following:
It’s just one day.
And there’s no point bankrupting yourself for “good memories”.
Particularly when those memories will quickly fade into the distance as you are working overtime to fund them.
Remember that you should never go into debt or find yourself suffering, either financially or emotionally, because you think that it’s necessary to make it a “good Christmas”.
Your kids will survive if they only get one gift – or none at all.
Your family will be fine with whatever meal you serve them on Christmas Day.
What’s important is being with your loved ones, whether they be friends or family.
And even if you find that you can only be there by Skype, because being there in person during the holiday season is outside of your budget, then that’s perfectly fine as well.
As long as people know that you’re thinking of them, then that’s more than enough.
2. Set a budget
It’s important to be honest with yourself about what you can afford these holidays that won’t impact upon your savings goals.
And once you’ve determined that amount, break it down into how much you want to spend on each category: food and drinks on Christmas Day, gifts, etc.
…and stick to it
It can be very easy to find yourself standing in the middle of Target, surrounded by Santa’s Workshop, and being tempted by all the sparkling wonders around you.
And before you know it, you have more Christmas tree decorations than you’d need to decorate an entire forest at the North Pole.
Remember, just because something is there, doesn’t mean that you have to buy it.
And to help you out, here’s a free printable Christmas budget to make sure you keep your spending under control these holidays!
3. Track your expenses
There’s no point having a budget unless you’re tracking what you’re spending accurately and unless you can quickly see how well (or, uh, not well) you’re doing.
Luckily, that budget above is interactive – in that the information changes as soon as you update how much you’ve spent!
It’s super easy to use and has a bunch of functionalities.
Firstly, you set your total available spending budget.
Then put in just how much you plan to spend in each individual category. There are 20 pre-set categories to help you on your way, but feel free to add as many as you want!
The Christmas Budget immediately tells you as you add more planned expenses just how far under or over you are from your total available budget.
You can then either pat yourself on the back or see straight away where you may need to cut back a bit.
Then, as you’re making purchases throughout the holiday period, you go to the second tab and put in all of your actual expenses as you go.
That’s why it’s great to keep this on your phone as well as your computer! Out shopping and just have to pop in and grab one thing for Christmas? Take five seconds to put the price and category of the expense.
The Christmas Budget then automatically tells you the amount that you’re either under or over your planned amount in each category as well as the total amount and percentage that you’re under or over.
The super straightforward graph will also make it immediately clear to you just how well (or, uh, not well) you’re going!
Grab it at the link above and see just how easy it is to keep track of your finances this Christmas.
4. Check for any savings that are on offer before shopping
Why pay full price when there are so many great deals available?
Before you buy any presents, groceries or other Christmas-related items, make sure that you search for any offers that may be available to save you some cash.
In particular, I always make sure to use Swagbucks when doing my online shopping as a great way to always save money – especially during Christmas when there may not be as many deals being offered by the stores themselves.
Signing up takes literally five seconds. And then all you have to do is login before you shop online at over 1,500 websites, including major ones where you’re probably planning to buy some Christmas presents – like Amazon, Walmart and Target.
You then get back up to 10% of what you spend through gift cards for places like Amazon, Target, Starbucks and more.
(You can even get PayPal gift cards, which are exactly the same as getting cash.)
These are great for helping you pay for holiday expenses – or even just for giving yourself a treat for surviving the holiday season.
And better yet, you’ll get a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up here and verifying your email address!
Need some help with saving money over the Christmas period in relation to gifts, decorations, food and drink, or travelling? Or want to learn how to make money this Christmas? If so, click here for more of our “We Wish You a Frugal Christmas” series.
Let me know in the comments any great ideas you have about saving money this Christmas – other readers would love to hear about your flashes of brilliance!