Does the holiday season necessarily mean to break your bank or can you truly have a frugal Christmas and still enjoy this fun time of the year with family whole-heartedly?
It’s that time of the year again when there will be jingles all the way and all the pretty Christmas lights will be out bright and shiny.
As much as I truly love the warmth and joy of the Christmas season as we end the year, I also worry about the toll the holiday season can take on my bank account if I am not cautious.
It’s not just with me but for everyone that we need to be careful about how we spend our money during the holiday season so that we don’t have to justify our over-spending looking at those credit bills later in next year.
It took me a while to control my Christmas spending and come up with a plan to have an inexpensive Christmas, but my efforts have paid me off over the last few years.
7 Ways to have a Fun Frugal Christmas:
Before I jump in and start sharing some tips you about having a cheap and frugal Christmas, I want to tell you one thing…
As much as Christmas is about shopping, gifts, and pretty decorations, it is more about creating lifetime memories with your family and friends.
The kids love and look forward to the Christmas gifts, but as they grow up they will appreciate more the beautiful time that they spent with you during holidays over the years.
So, focus more on creating experiences that will give long-term joys and not on materialistic things that won’t last much longer.
Now, since we have that out of the way, let’s focus on learning some practical ways to have a cheap Christmas (on money, not on experiences 😊) this year.
1. Budget, Budget, and Budget for a Frugal Christmas:
Set a comfortable budget and decide how much to spend on Christmas this year. Setting a budget helps you keep accountable for the money you spend during the holiday season.
You need to decide a gross or total amount that you are going to spend during Christmas and then you need to allocate funds to each sub-category like gifts, food, decorations, travel, and so on.
You can look at the previous year’s holiday spending, review them and decide what unnecessary expenses from the previous year can be cut down to save some money this year.
Make sure you write down all the stuff on a piece of paper or an app like EveryDollar. This makes it easier to stick to the budget rather than having everything in mind.
2. Start Planning Early:
Start planning as early as a year in advance for Christmas this year. If you are reading this post now, don’t think you are late to the party. Rather start now than later and you still will be able to save money on Christmas shopping.
I say a year ahead because there are few things like decorations, wrapping papers, gift bags, trees, lights, etc. that you can buy in up to 75% off during the post-Christmas sales. So, it is good to stock up on those things instead of buying them in full-price next year.
Similarly, if you start planning like in September end or so, you can keep an eye on deals and score some good discounts on gifts, especially during Black Friday sales.
3. Make Fewer Shopping Trips:
I know, it’s so much fun to go to the stores and look at all the new holiday stuff they have. But it’s also the main reason people end up spending more than they need to during holidays.
You can avoid this by planning ahead of time. Start planning for the gifts by September end and prepare the list of items you want to buy.
I would recommend shop online as much as you can. Subscribe for an Amazon Prime account during holidays (free for 30 days trial) and order all the stuff from there with two-day free shipping.
With online shopping, you are less likely to get tempted to look at the other stuff you don’t need than a store where everything is right in front of your eyes. So, this will help you avoid any impulse purchases.
Then, as you are closer to Christmas, make a list of things like gifts, decorations, etc. that you are still needing to buy and knock off that list in one shopping trip altogether.
4. No Credit Cards, Just the Cash:
Whatever amount of money you plan to spend on your Christmas, take it out of your bank account and spend it in cash. Create cash envelopes for different categories like gifts, food, décor, etc. and spend of each category out of the respective envelope. It will ensure you are not overspending on one category and there is little or no money left for others.
Also, credit cards are your biggest enemy during the holiday season. You don’t want to be spending next year paying off the credit card debt for the splurges you made during the holiday season with your credit card.
Spend only the actual money you have in your bank account. This will save you save from the stress of dealing with credit card debt later on.
5. Meal Planning:
Even if you are not big on meal planning regularly, I would recommend planning out the meals for the holidays in advance. This will help you in many ways.
First, it will help you stick to your budget. Food is one of the major expenses during the holiday season. With meal planning, you can decide the meals that fit in your budget to ensure you have a frugal Christmas.
Secondly, it helps you to avoid frequent shopping trips. When you already know, what you are going to cook, you can make a list of ingredients and buy all of them together in one go instead of making several last-minute Walmart trips.
The other way you can save money on food is by hosting a potluck instead of cooking all the meals all by yourself. Potlucks are easier on the wallet and always fun with a wide variety of food.
Also, if you are planning to go out and dinner at restaurants with friends and family, you can find some good deals on Groupon.
6. Buy Family Gifts Instead of Individual Gifts:
Instead of buying an individual gift for each family member (that is not your own) like a brother’s family or friend – buy gifts for the whole family. It can be as simple as DVDs, board games, cookies, hot chocolate, etc. This will help you save a good amount of money.
7. Don’t Overspend on Decorations:
Don’t waste too much money on Christmas decorations. Try to reuse what you already have and if you still running short of something, look for second-hand decorations instead of buying the new ones. Check out the garage sales or local Facebook group and you can find some decorations at a good bargain.
Also, if you are bored with the same decorations over the years, checkout with a family member or friend who is also looking for a change and swap the decorations with them.
Also, you can DIY some of the decorations using the supplies from dollar stores. You can involve the kids too and fix some pretty wreath or paint some pine cones etc. without spending a huge amount of money.
A Christmas on a budget doesn’t mean you need to be short on having fun but rather it means to have a joyful Christmas with mindful spending to ensure you and your family stay in good physical as well as financial health.
Cheers to having a fun frugal Christmas this year!