As the Christmas season quickly arrives, we’ll all start to begin wondering or planning lists and gifts! You may be wondering about what food to buy for the big day, when is best to go grab gifts and how to avoid all the festive rush during shopping! These thoughts may cause us to forget that, whilst this may be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be an expensive one.
Winter itself brings its own financial hardships, so the festive season taking place on top of this leaves us bound to worry about all the added costs and expenses during these colder months. Expenses at this time may feel as though they are snowballing into anxiety-provoking sums.
However, it is possible to reduce the strain on your bank account over Christmas if you approach the coming months with a more frugal attitude. Here are a few handy tips that can help to reduce winter spending and festivity splurging.
Why Save Money Over Christmas?
Winter itself can be a pricey time – it brings the need to spend an abundance of added costs to stay warm, safe and comfortable. So, it would be wise to be careful with your Christmas spending so that you can get through this difficult period without getting into money troubles.
Here are a few reasons why you should try to save money over the Christmas period:
- Energy Bills – During winter, a household will likely see an increase in utility bills as the heating may need to be run more regularly in order to stay comfortable. Additionally, due to the shorter days, the lights in the home must also be used more often. We may also need to winter-proof our house – this may include needing to repair gutters, replace insulation, and inspect the furnace or boiler. This can create unexpected costs that affect the budget for months to come.
- Clothing Costs – Other extra costs may include adding new coats, boots, gloves or scarfs to our wardrobes, or having to pay out for more frequent medical bills. Not only may the cold cause us to get ill, but ice and snow on the ground make injuries during the winter more likely. Simple slips and falls can result in sprained ankles or even broken bones.
- Inflation – Then of course, there is all the Christmas related spending. We may want to travel to be with loved ones to celebrate the holidays and, with the cost of gas and airfare at an all time high during winter, festive travel may risk us breaking our budget. Presents, food and decorations will only continue to pile onto the expenses of the season.
- Less Working Hours – On top of all these added costs, an annual survey by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on how Americans spend their time showcased that the average person works about 7% less in December than they typically do throughout the year. So, around Christmas time, we are generally working less and spending more.
Ways to Save Money Over the Holidays
Because of all the need for extra spending, it would be sensible to look for ways to cut costs over the holidays. These can be relatively simple and easy-to-remember tips that can make a real difference at this time, especially if you are living in a larger household, or spending Christmas with a bigger group:
1. Reduce Utility bills
Dealing with utility bills is one of the most important factors to consider when the festive season rolls around. Of course, start by always ensuring every unused electric appliance is turned off, but also try turning down your heating by just a small degree or perhaps doing your washing in cold water instead. During winter, there is a real temptation to overuse heating and hot water, but try and avoid this if you want to successfully reduce seasonal spending.
2. Winter Proof Your House
It would be a good idea to replace any faulty appliances in your home. For example, new refrigerators with the energy star rating are 20% to 40% more efficient than refrigerators purchased in 2001 or before. If you want to prep your house to save money not just this winter, but for all those to come, it may be better to make more substantial home adjustments such as this.
3. Spend Less on Winter Clothes
There may be some necessary purchases to keep warm, but try and refrain from adding to your wardrobe out of temptation as opposed to seasonal necessity. Always remember that small purchases can snowball into large expenses, and you can always layer your existing clothes to keep nice and warm.
4. Save Money on Travel
To save on holidays it is always best to book travel plans early and look into discount saving websites to find the best deals.
5. Rethink Gift Giving
The holidays bring the wonderful chance to exchange gifts with our loved ones, but perhaps consider repurposing gifts instead of buying new items. This is not only more economically beneficial, but is far more environmentally friendly – repurposing gifts and wrapping makes for a cheaper, and more sustainable, choice.
6. Get Creative
Instead of buying lots of individual presents, then Family Secret Santa could be fun – especially if you are spending the holidays with a large group. Likewise, a homemade card can be far more heartfelt, and a lot cheaper! Getting cards for everyone can really add up, so try getting more creative with card giving this Christmas.
7. Look for Discounts
When purchasing gifts, try to spend smart and apply discounts where possible to reduce unnecessary expenses.
8. Plan Meals
Don’t be duped into buying more food than you need. If a ‘buy one, get one half price’ offer is truly good value for you then go for it, but if you don’t actually need two of an item, avoid unnecessary deals. At Christmas, everyone tends to over-cater on the food front so try not to fall into this trap.
9. Avoid Delivery Fees
If you buy all your gifts online, delivery fees can really add up. Why not try supporting your local town and buying your presents in-person to avoid spending unnecessary added delivery charges.
10. Make a List and Check It Twice!
Always take a list with you to avoid making impulse buys. Remember, shops spend a fortune on targeting your spending impulses to make sure not to fall for this.
If you stick to these tips, you should be able to significantly cut down on your spending over the Christmas period, but only if you are consistent and do not stray. Having the correct attitude and methods to saving money over this time is just as important as routinely following money-saving tips.
How to Deal with Christmas Budgeting
The best method to practice in the lead up to and over the Christmas season is budgeting. Try to set aside some money in the lead up to the festive season, or try to buy your presents early to avoid December being too hard hitting on your bank account. You may even want to utilize budgeting apps to help you practice this habit.
Learning to budget effectively can help you to avoid needing to borrow any form of short-term loan in order to cover the costs of the holidays. Borrowing money may help you afford this expensive season, but when it is time to repay the loan, you will also need to pay back additional interest rates – something which may feel particularly damaging after the exploits of the holidays.
Instead of borrowing, always look at where you can cut costs first, or perhaps ask to borrow from family or friends. Then, next year, you know to save up some money beforehand to avoid sinking you into any form of financial deficiency or debt.