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42 Ways to Save Money This Christmas: Holiday Spending Survival Guide
We’ve finally hit the ‘-ber’ months and before we know, it’s Christmas time already! I remember when I was young, my family started preparing for Christmas in September. Not only was it exciting, it also helped us not go overboard with our Christmas spending.
Fortunately, there are many creative and inexpensive ways to celebrate the holidays without going into debt.
As Christmas can be a multi-faceted (and anxiety-inducing) affair, let’s break down these expenses into categories:
Frugal Ways to Save Money on Christmas Food
Have you ever overestimated how much food “you think” your loved ones would eat on Christmas? I have! I remember cooking a whole turkey and a big plate of vegetables enough for a family of six back in 2018. Except it was just me and my husband who had to eat it… Much of it went to waste so never again. Lesson learnt, as they say!
Christmas meals and treats need not be much nor expensive, to be honest. With the right planning and budgeting, you, too, can save heaps of money on Christmas food.
- Plan your meals and treats in advance.
- Stick to simple recipes with few ingredients, like this 3-ingredient shortbread recipe for treats.
- Buy ingredients and snacks in advance, especially when they go on sale.
- Learn to cook or bake the meals yourself.
- Ask guests to bring a dish/treats to share.
- Stick to generic-brand drinks and pour them in beautiful jugs/drink dispensers.
- Try not to use Christmas as an excuse to overeat – food is expensive and you usually regret the extra kilos after Christmas anyway.
Inexpensive Christmas Décor Ideas
Are you worried whether your guests would like your Christmas decorations or not? Perhaps it’s time to put your worries aside because I truly believe that Christmas is all about how you make your loved ones feel with your hospitality instead of how your house looks.
Let me tell you a story… My maternal grandma was the best (bless her soul)! Why? Because as wealthy as she was, Christmas at her house was not about ostentatious decorations. She had a small Christmas lantern outside and a teeny-tiny small desk tree inside.
But Christmas Day was always special at her house because she opened up her home not just to friends and family but to everyone. And I mean EVERYONE – neighbors, randoms, and even poor and homeless people.
As young kids, this opened our eyes to the true meaning of Christmas, which is generosity and compassion. And we also got to meet many people from all walks of life, reminding us that there’s more to Christmas than just spending money on Christmas decorations you would later throw out.
So how do you spend wisely on Christmas decorations?
- Reuse Christmas decorations from last year.
- Be creative and make your own Christmas ornaments. Encourage your kids to do the same.
- Buy Christmas decorations from garage sales or thrift shops.
- Check online or at your local shops for discounts on Christmas décor.
- Use solar fairy lights outdoors to save money on electricity.
Budget-Friendly Christmas Presents
Tell me something, how often have you opened a Christmas present and realize it’s not what you wanted or asked for? I see so many raised hands, mine included! We all try so hard to please other people on Christmas and we think that giving away expensive presents equate to the recipient liking it. I’m so guilty of this back when I was reckless with money and I was so wrong.
Overtime, I realized that it’s the thought that counts. It’s so cliché but it’s so true. Here are frugal Christmas gift ideas guaranteed to make your friends and family smile (and mean it!).
- If you’re into arts and crafts, make Christmas presents for others.
- Give away homemade treats, packaged nicely, as presents.
- Create a photo book for someone special, using your own printer.
- Write a heartfelt poem for someone.
- Make your own Christmas cards.
- Have a Kris Kringle/Secret Santa so you only buy a present for one person.
- Agree on a budget everyone can afford for Kris Kringle/Secret Santa.
- Buy presents in advance on lay-by so installments are interest-free and manageable.
- Look out for sales months before Christmas so you can get presents at discounted prices.
Cheap and Free Christmas Activities
So many people mistake Christmas for lavish parties and an opportunity to show off. It’s so easy to get lost in all the festive overwhelm and sometimes, we forget that Christmas is simply all about spending time with the people we love. It’s all about how you make everyone around you feel.
You could spend a bucketload of money on an extravagant Christmas lunch but if you all end up bickering and miserable afterwards, what’s the point, right?
Here are heartfelt ways you can spend time with your loved ones and save money on Christmas activities.
- Donate money and unwanted items to charity.
- Volunteer at your local charity or pet shelter.
- Play board games with family and friends.
- Have a competition on who could build the best-looking snowman.
- Roast marshmallows over a fire pit. (Be very careful when doing this!)
- Watch a Christmas movie.
If you live in the southern hemisphere like I do, you may be used to a summer Christmas. So here are frugal Christmas activities you can do with your family and friends.
- Have a picnic at a nearby park.
- Enjoy the sun and sand at the beach.
- Play sports in the backyard.
How to Earn Extra Cash and Save Money for The Holidays
I know this article is all about saving money for Christmas. But how can you save money for the upcoming holidays if you have no cash at all to spare? Check out these creative ways to earn extra income fast before December.
- Use a debt tracker, then knuckle down to pay off your debts, and give yourself and your family the gift of a debt-free Christmas.
- Ask for overtime at work.
- Get yourself a second job such as dog-walking or babysitting.
- Explore passive ways to earn income like renting out a room in your house or renting out your car.
- Hold a garage sale and sell items you no longer need.
- Sell unwanted stuff on eBay or Facebook Marketplace for extra cash.
- If you’re the creative type, sell your handmade products or get paid for your skills.
How to Manage Your Money for Christmas
I must admit, you cannot avoid spending money on Christmas. But I really believe that spending is only a small part of it. Understanding what the holidays really mean will help you put things into perspective, helping you save money on Christmas.
And it’s only one out of 365 days in a year. If you end up overspending for one day, you’ll end up paying for it for the rest of the year – definitely not a good return on your investment! So be wise about your personal finance and follow these tips for a debt-free Christmas.
- Do not compare yourself/keep up with the Joneses.
- Understand the real meaning of Christmas, which is all about kindness, generosity, compassion and how you make people feel.
- Have a budget and make sure you plan your spending way in advance.
- Look out for discounts on items that you need.
- Don’t be afraid to use coupons and stockpile.
- If you’re in a position to do so, switch to a low-interest home loan or credit card to free up more cash.
Inspirational Quotes to Save Money at Christmas
Want more inspiration to save money this Christmas and avoid unnecessary spending? Then check out these thought-provoking quotes:
“Christmas is the season when people run out of money before they run out of friends.” – Larry Wilde
“What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer.” – Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”
“Wretched excess is an unfortunate human trait that turns a perfectly good idea such as Christmas into a frenzy of last-minute shopping.” – Jon Anderson
“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” – Jesse Jackson
“The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Christmas begins about the first of December with an office party and ends when you finally realize what you spent, around April fifteenth of the next year” – P.J. O’Rourke
“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” – Peg Bracken
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” – Dave Ramsey
“You can’t borrow money at 18 or 20 percent and come out ahead.” – Warren Buffett on credit cards
“I don’t think Christmas is necessarily about things. It’s about being good to one another, it’s about the Christian ethic, it’s about kindness.” – Carrie Fisher
Final Thoughts: How to Save Money This Christmas
Christmas is a very important time of the year when we can finally catch up with the people we love and spend time on causes we care about.
I hope this post has given you useful tips to save money this Christmas so you can focus on the more important things, which are the true meaning of the holidays and your family’s financial security.
What are your top tips to have a debt-free Christmas and still have fun?
Let us know in the comments below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Corinne Rootsey is an Australian personal finance blogger, whom you can find at the blog MYJEARNEY . When she’s not blogging, you can find her at the beach with her chocolate Labrador, Molly.