The most wonderful time of the year is getting near. How do you feel about it? Are you thrilled and yet also quite terrified?
In the Philippines, September 1 officially marks the start of the countdown to Christmas – the birthday of Jesus Christ. People then start to prepare for this most awaited celebration of the year – think of gifts, parties, family gatherings, food, vacations, etc. However, while most of us view Christmas as a festivity full of fun and cheer and loving feelings, we can’t help but also get just a little bit more worried than usual especially when the season’s twin stares us in the face: ADDITIONAL EXPENSES! But worry NOT! With some planning, anyone can still celebrate a nice Christmas even with a tight budget! Here are some tips on how to save money yet fully enjoy this season:
Plan and prepare
Always, the best strategy in winning a battle is careful planning and preparation. Take a moment to sit down and think of how you want to celebrate your Christmas this year. Will it be just a simple celebration? Or would you prefer to prepare something more extravagant than last year’s? Will you give more gifts this time? Or will this year be the time to get a little more frugal? What will be this year’s menu? Ask yourself simple questions like these and answer them as honestly as you can. This approach will help you set the best and most applicable plan for your Christmas celebration.
After planning comes the preparation part. And since you already have a tailored plan, preparation just comes easy. Having a well-thought-out plan helps you set everything in place – your money, time, and resources.
Make a list, set a budget, and stick to it
Write down all the names of the people you want to give gifts to. Write also your ideas of what items you want to give them and the amount you are willing to spend on each item.
For your Christmas decorations, list down the stuffs you need to buy, recycle, or revamp. Allot a limited fund for this.
For groceries, note those items that can be bought ahead of time and allocate your budget for these.
The secret to all of these is sticking to your budget and to avoid going overboard or buying unnecessary things.
Shopping ahead of time allows you to enjoy seasonal sales. As early as June, shops throw season-ender sales where you can get items at 70% off or more. Branded clothes for a fraction of its price? Why not!
Another advantage of doing your shopping months before Christmas is that you get to spread out your spending. This way, you don’t get a one-time-big-time-but-broke-the-next-day dilemma.
If you need to travel back home or you plan to go out of the country during the holidays, buying your tickets and booking your travels ahead of time will save you a lot of bucks. Take advantage of promos being offered from time to time by many airline companies.
Since you already have a plan and you are starting to shop early, you then have the luxury of time to still go around and look for the best, most affordable items to buy. Try to visit some thrift stores, dollar stores, and bazaars so you may have a lot of choices. Consider also buying items in bulk so you can save on wholesale prices. Just make sure that you will need these items and you are not just hoarding. Otherwise, you are beating the very purpose of bulk buying.
Pay with cash only
Having cash as your sole mode of payment forces you to spend wisely as your sources is just limited to your cash on hand.
Cash back credit card
Ok, if paying with cash only does not apply to you, you can still use your credit cards and still save some money. How? Take advantage of promotions like cash back or rebates on your purchases. These promos are better than those miles or points that you earn when you use credit cards because cash back or rebates gives back a certain percentage of your spending either through a check or a statement credit.
DIY (do-it-yourself) your gifts
Nothing beats doing DIYs when you want to save money. Be it gifts, decorations, greeting cards, or menu for your Christmas Noche Buena – doing stuffs on your own really cuts down your expenses and gives you savings at the same time. Also, when you DIY, your choices are limitless! You can make your own gift baskets; you can cook or bake a dish or pastries; or you can even make those cute and classy jars of handmade soaps and give them away as Christmas presents! What makes DIY projects more interesting is that you can add some personal touch on what you do.
You do not only cut down cost on your DIYs. You also pass on love on what you are working on. After all, to most people, it really does not matter if you spend less on your gifts. What counts are your thoughtfulness and your effort in doing and finishing your gift projects.
With the tips mentioned above, hopefully, Christmas for you (and also for your mind and your pocket) will now truly be a season of joy, love, and peace. Christmas season will never be a burden to you anymore but always a time to look forward to and an occasion to be excited about.