Exceeding the household budget during the holidays is inevitable, but there are ways to plan your spending so you pretty much stay within your limit.
Christmas is a great time to spread holiday cheer through home decoration, gift-giving and the Noche Buena or Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, these activities are also what drive our spending up higher than usual, so it’s important to know where and when to cut your spending. Here are some money-saving tips you can do:
• It’s common knowledge that electricity bills are much higher nearing December 25 because of all the Christmas lights that families proudly display all over their houses on the weeks leading to the day itself. To keep your power bill from going through the roof during these months, set a certain number of hours for when you’ll only leave your string lights on. For example, you can switch them on at 6 PM and then shut them off at 9 PM to limit your use of electricity.
• Think twice before buying a new Christmas tree or new ornaments. If your tree and decorations are still in great condition, use them and put the money you would’ve spent aside for something else. If you normally get natural decorations like fresh flowers, try looking for plastic ones that look like the real thing that you can use again next year.
• If you have a knack for arts and crafts, try your hand at making your own decorations and ornaments. Use your leftover craft supplies or whatever recycled materials you have in the house, and make it more fun by getting people in the family involved.
• When buying presents for your family and friends, set a budget and stick to it. It will be difficult to do this, especially with costly options tempting you left and right, but if you write down around five things that each person in your gift-giving list might want and eventually choosing just one, you can avoid being derailed by anything shiny or new you see on TV.
• Do you have a knack for cooking or baking? Instead of buying ready-made gifts, why not bake Christmas cookies or make leche flan and give them out as gifts? Not only will you save money, but it’ll also mean more because you made it yourself.
• Forget about purchasing and mailing Christmas cards this year and get typing (on a computer, that is). A lot of websites offer free Christmas e-cards that you can personalize however you want, and the best part is that you can set the date when you want your loved ones to receive them.
• Instead of buying a gift for everyone in the family, hold a Secret Santa and set a maximum amount that each person will spend for a present. This way you won’t be pressured to buy everyone something, and neither will they.
• If you’re cooking a lot of one type of food, buy your ingredients by bulk instead of making separate trips. Look for wholesale stores, grocery stores or market stalls that offer discounts when you buy a lot of the same thing.
• Every year, there is one thing on the dinner table that hardly gets touched during Noche Buena. In many families, fruitcake is the clear winner in this category. Think twice before buying them so you won’t waste money on something no one will eat. And just because you can get them at a discounted price if you buy 10 doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to give them out as gifts, unless you know for a fact whoever’s receiving it absolutely loves it.
• When you’re hosting a party, make it potluck-style; ask each guest to bring something that everyone can share. Just make sure you know ahead of time what each person is bringing so no two dishes are alike. To make things more personal, ask them to bring something that their family always has to have on the dinner table as a tradition.
You don’t need to spend a lot to make sure that you have a meaningful Christmas. Tightening your budget will definitely be a challenge, but it’ll be well worth the effort if you can do it and achieve your goal of getting your loved ones together and making them happy during the holidays.