Four Ways To Save Money During Christmas
The holidays can be a little bit overwhelming especially when one is on a tight budget. As much as we want to keep the traditions, we should not forget the true meaning of Christmas – spending time with the people we love – at least that is what Christmas means to me.
As a financial coach, these are my four takes on how you can save money this Christmas:
1. Start planning early
Always start early that basically means just after Christmas. I recommend setting up an account for occasions that recur once per year, such as birthdays or Christmas. You can set a target according to your previous experience and the depths of your pockets. Remember to also include the costs of travel, eating in and out or accommodation in your Christmas budget, because these costs can really explode if not well planned for. Automatically transfer money each month from your main account to this account. I personally work with a sub-account, but you can have a different account just for this purpose. This gives you the flexibility to shop anytime during the year. Most Christmas goodies such as wrapping paper, Christmas cards etc. are normally cheaper just after Christmas, so take advantage and stock up, as you will need these items again, but remember to do an inventory before going to buy new stuff.
2. Have a plan and stick to it.
I know it is easier said than done, but it is important to have a plan of whom you want to gift, what you want to gift them and how much you want to spend on them. You should find out directly from the person or maybe someone else close to them, what they need as opposed to just buying random things, which will not be used. Make a budget with the actual amount of money you plan to spend on each person. I personally prefer making the gifts or part of the gifts myself, rather than buying as it adds a personal touch and it is better for my pockets.
It is important to constantly review your plan and to avoid over spending.
3. Compare prices
Am not an online shopper but for Christmas I prefer online shopping as opposed to going to the packed stores. Time also determines on how good a deal you will get. Regardless of whether you shop online or in person, you should always shop, when you have time. Only then will you be able to identify good deals from fake sale deals. Also research earlier on the price of an item, so you can be able to know if the deal is good or not. While you are in the shop do a quick search online to see if the price is good or not. I prefer online shopping seeing I can search for online coupons for that particular shop l am buying from and combine it with sale offers. You can also secure free shipping if you buy multiple items in a single online shop. Review your plan constantly to avoid being carried away with the offers.
4. Talk to family and friends if you are on a tight budget
Feel free to communicate to family that you are on a tight budget and will not be able to buy people gifts. Most times people will understand and have alternative ideas. In my family we decided that the adults would buy gifts only for the children and the holidays have been more enjoyable ever since. Unfortunately, gifting has become so obligatory that Christmas has lost its true meaning – good food and catching up with family.
One of my best Christmas ever, was in 2015 in Wuerzburg, South of Germany, where I got to volunteer in organising the dinner party for the homeless and less privileged people. I really felt the true spirit of Christmas. There are so many things we take for granted and that dinner made me realise that. I saw young and old people who appreciated the privilege of sitting at a table and enjoying the service of being treated as a normal human being and of course the joy of having a hearty warm meal. So, this festive season remember the less privileged in our community.
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