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How to Save Money During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here. That means holiday traditions, time spent with loved ones, parties, presents, and – for many people – spending a lot of money. The holiday season is an expensive time of year. A CIBC survey released during the 2017 holiday period found that respondents said they were planning on spending an average $643 on gifts and another $300 on décor and entertaining. And many people wind up spending more than they intend to. That’s a lot of money.

However, you don’t need to blow your budget to have a happy holiday season. Here are some holiday season money saving tips that can help you have a good time without breaking the bank.

Have a Budget

In order to avoid going over your budget, you’ll first need to have a budget. Before you spend any money this holiday season, sit down and write out a plan.

Be sure to include everything you plan to spend money on in your budget. Even small purchases, like stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts, can add up. Once you’ve written down everything you plan to spend money on, estimate the prices of each expense. Then add it up and make sure it’s a number you can afford. If it’s not, look for places to cut.

Track Your Spending

As mentioned, little things add up to big money. If you don’t track every dollar that you spend during the holiday season, it’s likely that you’ll go over your budget. Try to track purchases shortly after you make them, so you don’t end up forgetting about the money you’ve spent.

Revisit your Holiday Budget

Your budget isn’t something that you make once and then never look at again. Throughout the holiday season, go back to your budget often and make sure that you’re still on track. If you notice that you’re spending more than you planned, take steps to adjust the rest of your budget so you don’t get into debt trouble. The sooner you catch yourself going over, the more time you have to make changes and stay on budget.

Consider your Gifting Strategy

You might really want to give presents to everyone in your family, all of your friends, everyone at your workplace, and many other people, but this might not be financially possible. Generosity is a good thing, but not if it puts you in a bad financial position.

Instead of going all out and buying gifts for everyone, consider a different strategy. For instance, you may want to go out for a special holiday lunch or dinner with your friends or coworkers instead of buying each other gifts. You’ll still get to celebrate the season, but it won’t be as expensive (or stressful) as exchanging gifts.

If you have a large family, it could make sense for all of you to draw names so that each of you only buys a present for one other person. This works for groups of friends as well. Another option is to only buy gifts for the children in the family and not exchange gifts among adults. Both of these options take a lot of the financial stress out of the holiday season.

Try Saying No

You don’t have to attend absolutely every holiday party you’re invited to. Not only does it get expensive to do so (especially if you’re buying a new outfit for each one or bringing along some gifts or treats) but it’s also exhausting. If you can’t afford to attend an event, or if you’re feeling too burned out, it’s okay to say no.

Alter your Traditions

Extravagant gifts, expensive dinners, and pricey tickets to holiday events might be traditions for you and your family, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue them at the expense of your budget. Try to come up with some alternatives to these traditions that will save you some money without taking the enjoyment out of the season.

For instance, instead of hosting a huge dinner, have a potluck instead. Since each person will only be responsible for bringing one dish, no one will be stuck paying for an entire elaborate meal. Other fun holiday traditions that don’t break the bank include making holiday crafts, going for a walk to look at neighbourhood decorations, watching holiday movies together at home, or checking out free events in your area. Depending on where you live, there might be a wide selection of free holiday plays, concerts, and festivals for you to check out.