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The word “Christmas” can evoke mixed feelings. Being one of the most celebrated and biggest holidays of the year, most of us look forward to it, yet we also dread the expenses that come with it. From the Christmas decors we adorn our homes with, the gifts to shop and the parties to host or attend, it is so easy to overspend during the holidays.
But, before you fret, let me tell you that it doesn’t take a miracle to have a meaningful and fun Christmas on a budget. All it takes is some planning and creativity.
I am a firm believer that quality does not necessarily always equate with money, so I always plan ahead to see which areas I can save money on and avoid going over our budget during the holidays. And you can, too! Here are tips!
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Find out where to shop, on the cheap
Start by knowing where to shop to save money, which items on your list can be replaced with cheaper options, and which ones require that you pull out all the stops. Gifts are certainly one of the areas where cheaper alternatives are always possible.
Meanwhile, holiday parties are something where you can go on the middle ground. A home-cooked pecan pie would be a nice, not-so-shabby contribution to a potluck party. However, if you’re hosting Christmas Day lunch for your in-laws, then this is where you might need to spend a bit more.
Point is, you don’t have to go all out with all the items on your holiday list. Once you’ve figured out which ones you can compromise on as far as expense is concerned, it’s easy to find alternatives.
Make handmade Christmas decors and gifts
Go festive when decorating your home for Christmas using only the stuff you currently already have – or, make them yourself. For instance, get shades of green from your backyard – some pinecones, evergreen branches or flowers that you can arrange in a glass vase or tie with a red ribbon. Set up your dining table with a white candle tied with a decorative gold ribbon.
You can also do the same with gifts! Consider handmade gifts especially for families and close friends, and make them more customized and personal. Bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Work on handmade soaps (you can buy soap making kits here) that you can give out to relatives, or knit a scarf for your partner.
Research tasty recipes that are light on the wallet
Whether hosting a small Christmas party for your neighborhood friends or going to one, you can still manage to save money on holiday food with recipes that won’t require spending on a dozen and one ingredients.
Some ideas include a crockpot spaghetti casserole, sausage rolls, pizza bites, Christmas cookies (that you can even hang on the tree!), and other Christmas desserts that are cheap and easy to make.
Also, if there’s a list going around of what you can bring, volunteer to bring a dish instead of drinks or liquor – they end up always way cheaper in the long run.
Use Cashback Apps
To save money on food, I also recommend using Ibotta. It’s an app that pays you cashback each time you buy groceries at their partner stores like Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club and hundreds more grocery stores.
I’ve earned over $1000 in cashback and bonuses from Ibotta! Check it out here!
Use Rakuten to shop for gifts
If you’re shopping straight from the comforts of your home, then don’t forget to set up a Rakuten account. Stores signed up with Rakuten to offer various coupons and promotions for their products, and if you shop using this portal, you could save up to 40% on your purchases!
I’ve earned over $1500 in cashback and bonuses from Rakuten, too!
I know this can cause a few raised eyebrows, but think about this: Isn’t it better to give away gifts you don’t or never used to someone who can better appreciate it or put it to better use? This is an especially brilliant idea for toys that your kid has outgrown that are still in mint condition or kitchen items and clothes you never used. Rather than let them gather dust in your cabinets, you can use it to make other people happy.
Use Amazon Prime
I save a lot of money on shipping with Amazon Prime. If you are planning to buy gifts through Amazon, signing up for Amazon Prime Membership can save you lots of money on shipping as it’s FREE for millions of Amazon products. Plus, as an additional benefit, you can enjoy free movies, shows and music, as well as exclusive deals only offered to Prime members.
NEW to Amazon Prime? Try their TWO-DAY FREE SHIPPING or their 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime Membership. If you think it’s not for you, you can cancel it anytime with no questions asked, so it is absolutely risk-free. How about giving the gift of Prime to your loved ones?
Scout the malls or stores (if you don’t shop online) way ahead of the Christmas rush. Stores typically have pre-Christmas sales a month earlier. Some people I know even start Christmas gift shopping halfway through the year. Watch out for Black Friday deals too after Thanksgiving! And don’t forget to use Rakuten when shopping! Rakuten also has an In-Store Cash Back program that enables you to earn cashback and save up to 40% per purchase even when you shop offline at your local retail stores.
It doesn’t have to be on Christmas Day
Perhaps another unpopular view but gifts don’t necessarily have to be given on Christmas Day. Some stores slash down prices the day after Christmas and right before New Year, so you can buy your gifts around this period when items are half the price.
Use your store loyalty points
Grocery expense typically rises during the holiday season no matter how tight you hold on to your purse strings. But, you can still save a couple of dollars by using the loyalty points you’ve earned to buy food and presents.
Save money using Swagbucks
Swagbucks is a popular survey site that pays you cash for answering surveys. But more than a place to make money by simply sharing your opinion, it is also a great place to shop for the holidays to SAVE money. It is affiliated with thousands of stores such as Macy’s, JCPenney, Amazon, Walmart and more.
To use it, all you need is to shop using the app, earn points ( called SB’s) on your purchases, and redeem your points as gift cards or cash for $25 worth of points).
Send online Christmas cards
For people we can’t afford to send an actual gift to, a Christmas card is always a much-appreciated touch to share holidays wishes. But Christmas cards can also be expensive, not to mention you’ll be paying for postage, too. So why not make digital Christmas cards and send them over email instead. It’s the thought that counts, after all.
Christmas does not always have to be expensive. Celebrating the holidays on the cheap does not lessen the importance of the occasion, and instead, can even bring into clearer focus the real meaning of the season. Happy Christmas planning!
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
How do you plan for Christmas? Tell us about your Christmas planning tips by commenting below!
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