Easy strategies to save money during the holidays – and still have a good time!

When someone tells me not to spend over the holidays, it’s about as useful as them telling me not to eat Christmas pudding – I still “need” to do it and I’m likely still going to do it.

It’s a magical time of year, for sure. The Christmas lights are up in all the shopping centres, the kids are happily sending letters to Santa, and there are sweet smells coming from stores and kitchens 

You’ve worked hard this year. It’s time to party, treat yourself, relax and unwind.

The problem is: how do you create a memorable festive season without spending a fortune or worse, going into debt?

Step 1: Plan

The first step to looking after your pocket and your festive season happiness is planning. And no, it’s not too late to do this.

Things might be more relaxed over the holiday season, but it’s no reason to stop budgeting. Know what you need to pay for and buy and work backwards. This way, you can stay disciplined, and not overspend.

Step 2: Carry on saving

Don’t use the extra holiday expenses as an excuse to cut back on your savings efforts. When you get paid, ensure you put the same amount of money as you usually do into your savings account. If you get paid a bonus, put a portion of this into a high savings interest account as well, rather than simply spending it all. It’s money that you didn’t have before, so you won’t miss it. Put it in an interest-bearing savings account or an account with a fixed deposit rate. That’s the best bank to save money!

It’s also not too late to find a bank with the best savings interest rates.

Step 3: Be strong

“Christmas specials are designed to be tempting. Then there’s that saying that “Christmas comes but once a year”, encouraging you to spend more, often on things you don’t need or want. Be disciplined. If it’s not in your budget, don’t even look at it. You don’t want to start off the new year with lots of material possessions you no longer have to use for, AND hefty debt.

Step 4: Keep the credit card away

If you can’t afford it with cash, then you shouldn’t be buying with your credit card, especially on things like gifts and clothes. It’s tempting and easy to put a lavish meal on your card when you’re feeling relaxed and after that glass – or three – of wine, but keep the bigger picture in mind and hold back.

It might feel like a powerful asset that allows you to buy what you want. And, it can be. But if you misuse your credit card, those interest rates can hurt you as well.

 Step 5: Shop smart

Look for the best prices by scouring online catalogues. Try to shop alone. Your kids, who are probably truly sold on the festive season, will probably pester you for extra treats. The really young ones will throw tantrums that might make you give in. Check that a “sale” really is a sale. Be honest with yourself: would you have wanted that item if it was only available at full price? You need to appreciate the difference between your wants and your needs.

Step 6: Get clever with gifts

Big and pricey gifts can be replaced by “small” gifts that are large in meaning, thoughtfulness or effort. Experiences, crafts and homemade items rarely disappoint. Give a voucher of massages, write a poem, create a memory book, or even buy second-hand (there are some fantastic things to be found on the likes of Gumtree and Facebook second-hand groups).

Also, consider something like a “Secret Santa” gift exchange, where you give one gift, and receive one too.

Step 7: Find budget-friendly forms of entertainment

You don’t need to go out to restaurants and the movies to enjoy a great night. Try pool parties, games evenings, movie nights, or even a comfy evening on the sofa binge-watching your favourite films or series.

 

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