How to Celebrate Christmas on a Budget
It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…
Not again. It’s that time of the year again, and we all tend to let the silly season go to our heads, don’t we?
In the current economic situation that the world faces right now, we literally can’t afford to get into an even deeper cash crisis this Christmas.
We need to remember that Christmas comes once a year, and even though it’s important to the people who celebrate it, we also need to realize that there is life after Christmas, and the New Year looms afterwards, and there is always that feeling of guilt when we overspend, get into debt, and put on weight.
I have thought of some tips and heard of others too that I am going to share here to make it a happier holiday.
Go shopping late rather than too early
I know a lot of people want to get goods before they are all sold out, and the stores are already catering to the rush as early as September or October. The thing is that if you start shopping too early, not only will you end up spending too much, but one person might end up with more presents, and it will probably be you!
I’ve heard from salesmen that there are sales in November and January, a month before and after Christmas respectively. There’s no point in shopping in June, then.
One year, because someone went shopping early, and stored a future Christmas present away, they forgot about it and I didn’t even get it!
As tempting as it is to go crazy at Christmas, don’t give into it, because you will regret it. Set yourself an amount that you’re willing to spend and stick to it.
The point is to save money and then spend, not spend and save what’s left.
Set a budget for Christmas gifts and don’t exceed it
Each family member should get a limit of money that will be spent on them in regards to gifts. If they want something very expensive, then they can buy it themselves. At Christmas, it’s the thought that counts, not how much a person spends. Would you rather give someone something cheap and useful or expensive and useless?
If there’s a jealousy over who has the most presents, then make sure that each family member has the same amount under the tree on Christmas morning. If there are extra gifts that you have for someone then give it to them afterwards when the other jealous vultures aren’t around.
Make a gift list
Every family member should have a small list of the things they want to avoid getting presents they don’t want and wasting money. I’m sick and tired of people complaining and saying, “This isn’t what I wanted!”
Tell people what you want, then. I’m sure you’re old enough to realize that there is no Santa, and that it doesn’t matter if you know what you’re getting for Christmas.
Act your age and not the size of your candy cane!
(Sorry about Santa, kids. I usually assume that the people reading this are over ten. You can just close your eyes and go back to pretending. It’s all right.)
Sell gifts or re-gift
If you do receive a gift that you don’t particularly like, don’t fret; just think first before throwing it away. You can always try to re-gift, which means give it to someone else with new wrapping and a label from you. Just make sure that the two people, the one who sent you the present and the one who’s getting it from you as a re-gift, preferably don’t know each other.
If all your friends are a close knit group, then you might think of selling the gift at a second hand store. Just also be careful when doing this, because if that person happens to browse second hand stores or classified ads, they might just come across that same item.
You need to know your friends and family to even attempt these ideas or they’ll probably backfire. If they don’t visit second hand stores or look through ads in the papers or online then perhaps it’s a safe bet.
Quite pricey, but it will save you lots of money in years to come.
Get a permanent, synthetic Christmas tree
For years, my family would worry about having the best tree. Usually we would rock up too late and all the good trees were taken.
Then there was the task of putting it up and not to mention putting up with the shedding as the needles fall off the tree and sometimes, in addition to pine cones and sap, there are other things like animals or insects in amongst the foliage.
Trees are such dirty things, and I’m so happy that we got a ‘fake’ tree a few years ago. They are so much more hygienic and not to mention easy to set up and the limbs are fully bendable and much fuller than their real-life counter-parts. Some even come with fibre optic/LED lights so you needn't even shell out for Christmas tree lights every again. It’s a once off payment that will save you money and agony for years.
Stop buying Christmas decorations
Every year there are new decorations out in stores. Lights, baubles, and numerous other ornaments come in different colours and shapes. Go with one theme or colour scheme, and don’t try to get everything and put it on the tree at once. There’s only so much room anyway unless you have two or more trees (mad). Speaking of which, don't feel as though you need to buy Christmas decorations for other people. They are more than capable of sorting themselves out.
If the lights you have are working, then stick with them.
"If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" (or buy new ones).
Go easy on the food
There’s nearly a whole month before Christmas Day and not to mention the shops stock up on special food and treats months beforehand, as early as September or October usually. To save on food when the prices are astronomical, only buy special foods like roasts, cakes, sweets and such for Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Year’s eve, and New Year’s day.
Get people to chip in
If you have a big family or lots of friends, then it would be a great idea to have a party where everyone brings something to the table. They can either buy the food or make it themselves, but it will save you all a lot to have just one party instead of many.
One could also argue that it would save on fuel; going to one place instead of driving around the whole city or country. If your relatives live overseas, then you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth the money and the journey there just for a few days.
No name brands
There’s often a stigma with no name brands. The only thing is that branded foods cost a lot more, especially when you stock up on them. No name brands can taste just as good and if you were to consult some recipes, there should be ways to turn it into something even better. It’s no good having the best ingredients if you can’t cook. I’m sure that some people make do with what they have and they don’t even have the best.
SMS instead of calling
It’s cheaper to do and you say (or type) what you have to say and don’t waste time with those pauses and lingering on the phone, saying goodbye several times.
“No, you hang up!”
E-mail, IM or MMS instead of sending cards
In today’s modern world, the post should be used less and less, in my opinion. It’s too expensive to send big packages or oversized Christmas cards.
You can do this all for much less with a PC and an internet connection, whether it’s dial-up or broadband.
You can make your own images or find free ones on the internet to send to people that will get the message across just as well, rather than spend lots on ridiculously costly Christmas cards.
There’s always plenty of temptation around Christmas as the companies and stores all jump on the bandwagon; it’s turned into such a commercial ‘product’. I’ve read several times that Christmas is not the time to go crazy, but rather use our bonuses to pay off debt and be financially secure for the coming year.
They say that’s the best gift of all, especially in these times.
We should remember what Christmas is all about, and we should be the ones that are happy, not the fat cats digging in our wallets and bank accounts.
“There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries.”— W.J. Cameron
© 2008 Anti-Valentine
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