There is no two ways about it. The holiday season IS expensive for most of us. There are activities to attend, gifts to give, and sometimes the expense of travel.
Everywhere I turn, there is another “can’t miss” opportunity to spend money. We just finished with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Yet, I fear there will be more “save, save, save” ads coming our way whether it is via TV, radio, print, or online.
When you have kids involved, the rising cost can cause your head to spin. I don’t even want to take the boys to the store as their appetite to be consumers is nauseating at times. There’s only so many times I can handle telling them no before even I am sick of saying it.
5 Simple Ways Parents Can Cut Down on Expenses During the Holidays
According to the National Retail Federation, the typical American plans to spend at least $804 on the holidays (data from 2014). Those in other countries also devote substantial money to this time of year which often revolves around gift giving, hosting parties, expensive travel, and sharing. However, each year people go into debt shopping for year-end holiday expenses that they end up paying off for several months.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to cut down on the financial impact of the holidays. The following 5 tips allow you to enjoy the holidays to their fullest, while also cutting down on unnecessary or frivolous expenses.
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1 – Plan for a stay-cation.
Who says you have to go on a vacation each holiday season?
You can save a lot of money and create a new tradition by staying home instead. There are probably wonderful holiday events, activities and local sights and sounds worth seeing right in your local area. Plan for a stay-cation instead of a vacation to save some serious holiday cash.
One activity that I loved as a child is to drive around the community looking at the holiday lights displays. Pop in a CD of your favorite Christmas or holiday music and enjoy the sights. You can even make some hot chocolate for the kids to enjoy either on the ride or when you get home. I love the insulated travel mugs. You do need to wash them out promptly when dealing with something sticky like hot chocolate.
2 – Spread your expenses out over the entire year.
You can do this 2 different ways. Each month budget some money that you will use for holiday expenses. Then use that money at the end of the year when you shop for decorations, gifts and other holiday items. You can also make holiday-based purchases throughout the year. Either way, this strategy eases the impact on your pocketbook or purse during the holidays.
You can also make holiday-based purchases throughout the year. Either way, this strategy eases the impact on your pocketbook or purse during the holidays.
My tip is to make sure you record everything purchased and who the intended recipient is so there is no double purchasing needed. If the kids can’t help but root through your closet, then wrap and label the gifts after they have been bought.
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3 – Make gifts rather than purchasing them.
When you teach your children to hand make gifts instead of buying them, you teach the real meaning of the holidays.
This also promotes creativity, imagination and other important life skills. Gifts mean so much more when they are heartfelt creations rather than retail store purchases.
When I was in school, I would bake up mini-loaves of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake to share. It was inexpensive, yet always appreciated. You could do these as muffins or mini-bread loaves depending upon which pans you have.
4 – Limit the number of gifts each person gives.
If gift-giving is a part of your holiday celebration, do you really need to give multiple gifts to multiple people? Giving just 1 gift per person keeps your holidays from devolving into nothing more than a “what am I getting this year” mindset.
Some families will have each person draw just ONE adult’s name from the hat for their holiday gift giving. Then you can do something nice for that one person instead of lots of small gifts for several adults.
If you have a large family, consider family gifts. A special movie on DVD or Blu-Ray they can enjoy along with snacks for a movie night is always appreciated. Or, purchase a gift card for them to go out to eat at a favorite restaurant.
5 – Don’t attend each and every party or gift exchange you are invited to.
You should never feel obligated to attend a holiday party if it is going to hit you squarely in your checkbook.
Limit the amount of party invitations you accept if they have a financial requirement attached to them. Or, see if there is a gift exchange if you can do more of a ‘white elephant’ approach and bring something you received and never used.
Free Ebook: 11 Fun Holiday Activity Ideas for Kids
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What are some ways you are able to curb expenses during the holidays?