One of the most anticipated (and expensive!) times of the year is rapidly approaching. With Christmas right around the corner, Julia and Clyde are keen to share tips on how to budget for the season and prevent overspending.
Before you do anything else, assess your finances and determine how much you can afford to spend for the Christmas Season. Make a list of all the expenses you anticipate, and then work alongside your budget to allocate portions of your spending to each item. This way, you know exactly how much you have available for your shopping list. If needed, you can move around amounts and reallocate them to other areas, for instance if you spend less in one area, it frees up part of your budget for somewhere else. Keep in mind that saving in one area does not mean it needs to be spent – monies can be set aside for your future financial needs.
Start your preparations early and avoid last minute crowds and inflated prices. By making a list of the gifts you need, home decorations and items you may need for any Christmas events you’re hosting, you can begin ticking things off your list from now. For instance, start picking up non-perishable items that you can keep stored away until you need them. Having your eyes and ears open also helps you monitor for sales and deals so you can take advantage of any price-savings.
Where possible, consider supporting the local economy. There are many local artisans, service providers and businesses that can meet your needs. Often, the items or goods purchased may feel more personalized and a better cultural fit instead of foreign alternatives. You can also ask around within your community or on social media to discover companies and business owners in your area – you may learn about new offerings that you never knew were available! Furthermore, actively choosing to spend your money on local versus foreign talent helps to provide needed support to your fellow citizens.
Rather than purchasing a new item, try to find a DIY or more cost-effective alternative. For instance, you can make your own wreath or table centerpiece with branches from your yard and spray paint. This can even be a fun family activity everyone can do together. If you need help coming up with options, the internet is full of ideas and tutorials to get you going. This approach also works well for gift-giving. You can delight friends and family with baked goods, homemade pepper sauce or even the gift of your time (from offering to baby-sit to making dinner for busy parents – that’s a great way to surprise them with a present that goes a long way)!
You can also reduce the pressure and expectation on others by asking for things like volunteering or charitable donations in lieu of gifts. Time spent giving back to the community can be a bonding activity to help to bring families and friends together and also help to provide relief for those that may be having a difficult season.