The holiday season can be a time of friendship, laughter, and holiday cheer… and a time when you feel the expectation to spend a lot of money that you may not have. This is why it can be an especially difficult time for many people: the pressure to keep up with those around us, the fear of disappointing those we typically buy presents for, the stress of not being sure how you will afford food for the table let alone presents for under the tree.
Our Debt Professionals at Grant Thornton Limited have shared some of their tips for trying to refocus this holiday season so you can make it more about enjoying the time with the people around you. Hopefully using some of these tips will help you feel refreshed in the New Year, as opposed to wondering how you will recover from the spends made in December.
- Talk with family and friends about the cost of gifts. Sit down and make decisions about a dollar limit for gifts. If money is tight then consider doing a secret Santa. Remind everyone that thoughtfully chosen gifts are more important than expensive ones.
- Take advantage of the sales. Shop the sales throughout the year and make a “Christmas closet” where you can hide gifts that you’ve found throughout the year, or at Boxing Day sales. These closets are also useful for when you have an unexpected guest bring you a gift and you want to give them something in return. You can save on decorations as well by buying discounted items after the holidays.
- Have the kids make a list. Ask them to pick three items and list them as one that is a real want, one that is a need, and one that is a small/inexpensive item. Let them know that they will likely only get one item off of the list. This helps teach children that the holidays are about more than presents, and it will help your wallet save by not buying them gifts they don’t really want or need.
- Cut out unnecessary items. This could include ribbons, bows, gift bags, and fancy tape. Use brown paper bags as a fun alternative with colourful markers to write the “To” and “From”.
- Sell old toys and clothing. Find a local consignment store and get extra cash for new gifts.
- Bake instead of giving gifts. This helps cut costs and has the added benefit of spending time with family to make the baked goods.
- Take advantage of the free events to get into the spirit. Santa Claus parades, craft fairs, outdoor concerts and tree lighting ceremonies are usually offered at no charge.
- Hold a “Catch up Christmas”. This one is great if you overspent last year and your budget is super stretched. Consider not spending for one season. Instead, focus on a nice family meal, taking in the Christmas parade, driving around to see the lights, and really devoting your holiday to your family by giving them your time.
Other fun and free holiday ideas are a hot chocolate and holiday movie night, ice skating at the river, and sledding. Center this holiday season on family activities instead of gifts and goodies.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to spend money at this time of year. Let’s try to take some steps to break the cycle, enabling us to end the year and start a new year with a fresh, positive, less stressful approach to our finances.