‘Tis the season for sharing the gift of togetherness with friends and family, but for those of us on a budget, the holidays can seem quite daunting — especially for our wallet. With the flood of holiday sales and offers, it can be hard to resist the temptation to spend, but by planning ahead you can avoid that dreaded New Year’s financial hangover altogether.
Here at Koho, we’re dedicated to helping you manage your finances better, so here are 5 simple money-saving tips for the holidays:
1. Lay out a holiday game plan
There’s no shortage of money management blogs telling you to create a budget during the holidays (which definitely helps), but let’s face it, the holidays can sometimes be a little unpredictable. One holiday party turns into five, and a few gifts for friends or family multiplies.
In addition to setting a holiday budget, set up a holiday game plan with the maximum number of holiday parties and/or events you’ll attend, alternative solutions on how you can prioritize spending time with key people, and goals on what you’d like to accomplish even before you ring in the new year. Perhaps you’d like to give back to the community, reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile or take more time for yourself this holiday season. Goal setting doesn’t have to start at the beginning of the year — start small, and find ways you can end the year on a high note.
2. Tell people you’re on a budget
There’s absolutely no shame in telling people that you’re on a budget during the holidays because many people are likely in the same boat. If you plan on hosting a holiday party, let your guests know that you’d like to have a gift-free Christmas this year, or if you’re attending a party, kindly decline to partake in a gift exchange. Better yet, host a potluck so you can cut costs and break bread with the important people in your life — because those who truly matter in your life will respect your decision and not push your financial boundaries.
If you live far away from home and the travel costs seem too high for your budget, plan for an alternative time to travel during the off-season. It shouldn’t matter the time of your visit — it’s the quality of time you spend with those who matter to you the most.
3. Recognize that the little things make for the greatest gifts
There’s something quite special about receiving a handwritten note or a tin of homemade baked goods. Start with crafting up a list of people you’d like to write a special note to or make something from scratch. This might also be a great time to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while — you’ll be surprised at how much a simple note of appreciation can go a long way.
Another way to spread the gift of kindness is to pay it forward. Something as simple as paying for the person behind you at a drive-through, or leaving a few nickels with a note at a laundromat can make someone’s day.
4. Ask for charitable donations or someone’s time in lieu of gifts
This tip was inspired by our User Success Manager, Jaclyn, who asked her family to donate to charity in lieu of gifts this year. Not only is this a great way to give back to the community, but it helps raise awareness for the causes that are important to you.
Another great way to spend the holidays with your friends and family is to give the gift of time through volunteering. Set up a toy drive, put together care packages for shelters/hospitals, or host a fundraiser for a charity of your choice. Check out some great causes in Vancouver and Toronto to find out how you can get involved.
5. Create a new holiday tradition with friends + family
While the holidays may come with many cherished traditions, introducing a new and cost-friendly tradition with your friends and family is a great way to create meaningful memories together. Taking a hike on Christmas Day, or making an old family recipe can open opportunities to celebrate your past and present with those you love.
While the holidays can seem overwhelming with all the festivities and engagements, spending time with those you love doesn’t need to come with a price tag, nor should it break the bank.
By planning ahead and finding alternative ways to enjoy the holidays, you’ll be surprised to see how the simplest things can truly make for the greatest gifts this holiday season.