Holiday Cost Cutting Tips
Frugal Savings: December - March
The true meaning of any holiday can often be overshadowed by the commercialism that we adults are blasted with each season. No matter how good our intention to stay with the spirit of the holiday, and within our budget for that particular season, many of us close out the year with a dent in our savings account; or worse, greater debt than what we started with.
Here are some cost cutting ideas that may help to keep you and your budget on track.
If your bank or credit union offers a Christmas Club savings plan, join. It will give you a core amount of cash to work with, usually paid out in October that will help to offset a lump sum coming from your paycheck in December.
December: Save gift bags, gift boxes and Christmas cards to reuse next year. Old Christmas cards can be cut up and used as gift tags.
January: Hit the stores for post Christmas sales, restocking on gift bags, wrap, or Christmas cards at 50% - 75% off. Solid colored bags and wrap in greens, reds, or whites; festive stripes and polka dots, can double throughout the year for birthdays or other celebrations.
February: Red is the color of love, valentines and Christmas. During the month of February watch for any specials that can be purchased and set aside for December entertaining, such as paper plates, napkins, or tablecloths.
March: St. Patrick’s Day celebrations bring out the green. Any dollar store chain is sure to have specials on green paper items for the ‘other’ Christmas color. Be sure to use this opportunity to add to your collection of holiday plates, etc.
Saving Money: April - August
Make an ‘idea list’ for family, friends, and co-workers you intend to give a gift to and keep it with you. Buy a large plastic bin or designate a shelf or closet where you can store your gifts throughout the year as you collect them. This way you are not spending a large portion of your paycheck at the end of the year, plus it’s a great organizer.
Watch for bargains through the year, such as summer sidewalk sales, or Christmas in July events. If you like to create your own holiday decorations keep your eye on coupons that are offered in local papers for craft store items. Check online and sign up to receive their newsletter. Many stores offer special online coupons not shared with the general public.
Creating gift baskets is a simple, and inexpensive, gift giving idea. Browse garage sales, second hand stores or craft store shelves for baskets. Decorate with fabric and bows or just leave them in their natural state. Fill with sundry items which interest the person the gift is intended for.
Budget Saving Ideas: September-November
September: Use the weeks preceding Christmas to plan any special holiday menu, treats or food gifts. It is smart to stay organized at the start of the fall/winter season, with both Thanksgiving and Christmas largely family celebrations. Make a list of the foods that are usually consumed, and the quantity. Add a list of ingredients for holiday cookies, breads and other homemade foods.
October: clip coupons to slash prices on grocery bills. Add one or two items from your holiday foods list each week and store in a separate box, cabinet or shelf for the upcoming holiday preparations. Buying at a bulk food warehouse may help to reduce your grocery bill, especially if you will be doing a large amount of baking.
November: Many grocery stores give away coupons for food when you spend a certain amount each week preceding the deadline. Some employers also give their employees turkeys or other holiday food items in November.
Books for Frugal Savings
Frugal Family Fun Ideas in December
December: Family fun and activities don’t have to be expensive. Enjoy free or discounted entertainment during the holidays by being creative and focused. Here are some ideas:
Go ice skating or sledding at a local park or city rink.
Take a family drive in the evening to see Christmas lights in your city.
If it is the Christmas Carroll or Nutcracker you wish to take your family to, see if there is a version that is offered through your local community theatre group. Or, check with the manager. Professional tour companies will frequently offer a ‘freebie’ during the dress rehearsal; and remember that matinees are discounted as well.
Give the kids flashlights to hold and take a winter walk through your immediate neighborhood to check out decorated lawns and look at the stars.
Take out holiday books from your local library and read them at bedtime. Or, have your children create a story of their own with you as the scribe.
Borrow holiday movies from the library and pop some popcorn for an ‘in home’ theatre experience. Some holiday favorites are A Christmas Story; Home Alone; How the Grinch Stole Christmas; A Charlie Brown Christmas; and It’s a Wonderful Life.
One day a week construct a holiday themed craft or decoration with your children. Buy miniature trees for each child’s room and allow them to decorate it themselves.
Encourage your family members to make gifts for each other. One year my youngest daughter built a work bench for her seven year old son. He, and his dad, were equally surprised on Christmas morning.
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