Do you realise that uncontrolled holiday spending could lead to festive season stress that may leave you feeling disgruntled and unhappy at a time when other people are having the time of their lives? Here are some tips to help you prevent this from happening.
If there is one month a year that you really should live according to a budget, December is it! Take the money that you have available for this month and divide it into:
- First and foremost for the things that you have to pay, for example rent, transport, debt repayments, etc.
- Secondly, divide the rest of the money into the various things that you want to spend money on during the festive season. These may include family outings, a Christmas dinner and presents.
Tips for saving on presents
Once you know how much money you have available for presents, take the number of presents that you want to buy and divide that into the total amount. This will give you an idea of how much money you can spend per present. If you find that you have less money than you hoped for, you will just simply have to decrease the amount spent on each present.
Remember that Christmas and New Year is a season of goodwill and therefore it is not necessary to buy expensive presents. Thoughtful presents are usually much appreciated. Home-made presents on which you spent you precious time and energy may even be better received than presents bought at the most expensive shop in town.
Tips for saving on family outings
Taking a family of four on an outing may cost a pretty penny! And if you want to treat them more than once this festive season, you may find yourself in debt. So, what can you do to save costs?
- Instead of going to a restaurant, why not take the family to a picnic spot in your area. Home-cooked picnic food can be delicious and the children can romp around to their heart's delight. If you live at the coast, make use of the beach more often.
- If you go to the movies, don't include dinner or even snacks in the treat. Eat at home before you leave and make sure that the children aren't thirsty when they get to the theatre.
- Support your local theatres. Seats at big-event theatres are usually very expensive but smaller local theatres are often more affordable.
- Be selective. Find out beforehand what a specific venue or outing costs. Choose the ones that you can afford.
- Attend free Christmas concerts and other entertainment at shopping malls. Just remember that shopping malls stage these events in order to get you there to spend your money. So, once again, make sure that you're not hungry or thirsty when you get there. Attend the concert, do some window shopping and then go home.
Saving on the Christmas dinner
Keep your and your loved ones' weight in mind as you plan the Christmas dinner. Don't be tempted to supply a month's kilojoules in one sitting. In addition, try the following:
- Use in-season fruit for starters and desserts.
- Stick to one meat dish.
- Ask other family members to contribute a side dish each.
- Put a bottle of water at each place setting at the table. People tend to drink more wine when they are thirsty but when you supply them with water for their thirst, they will consume less wine and other expensive alcoholic beverages.
- If you are going to prepare the Christmas dinner at a holiday destination, take as many ingredients as possible along. Products are usually more expensive at holiday resorts during this time of year. In fact, to save money, take along as many groceries as possible for your everyday cooking while on holiday.
A good start
Try not to get into debt during December as you will definitely regret it, come January. Plan properly (i.e. make a budget) and stick to your plan. You'll find that it works. Exercise the same financial discipline in the new year and you will see a difference in your financial well-being.