How to get through Christmas without going broke-ass-broke

Now that it is mid-November (if the malls and advertising haven’t reminded us), we are well on our way to the holiday season. Between gifts for friends, family, kids, dinners, hostess gifts, etc., it is easy to get sucked into a spending tornado. We can quickly blow our budgets and free-fall into debt, so now is the time to set a Christmas budget. For example, in our family, we have set a budget of $50/person. How much can/should you spend on others? Let’s do a little exercise…

  1. Write down a list of all the expected events you’ll be attending between now and New Years Eve
  2. Write down what gifts/cards/meals you need to purchase
  3. Approximate how much you’ll spend on these items
  4. Catch your breath
  5. Realize you can be spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the next 6 weeks

The average Canadian is expected to spend just over $1500 this holiday season. Does this surprise you? Have you planned for this amount? What do you expect to spend? This may be shocking, but there are other ways to show your love and affection for others without going broke-ass-broke. Just give these ideas some thought:

  1. For your spouse/partner. Ask yourselves; do you realllllly need to buy one another gifts? If your love language is gifts, then that’s probably a hard yes. However, why not put that money towards a weekend away together? Or try out that new restaurant that was just out of your price range? Or, donate the money to a family in need or other charity. There are lots of ways to show you love them without buying them a sweater or gift card.
  2. For the kids (this is a harder one). As we know, we can spend a mortgage payment on gifts for the kids. Try the four gift rule: something they need, something they want, something to wear, and something to read. Or, use the funds and go on a family weekend get-away. It’s totally fine to buy things for your kids, but it is important to show them how fortunate they are – take them with you to buy clothes and toys for kids in need and have them come with you to drop off the donation.
  3. For friends and family. You could do a secret Santa or stockings, in lieu of large gifts. Or, just focus on the kids/nieces/nephews and pass on buying gifts for adults.
  4. For holiday events. If someone is hosting a dinner, lunch, or other Christmas event, it is kind of rude to show up empty handed. You don’t need to spend a bunch – everyone loves home-made cookies. Can’t bake (or don’t have time)? You can always support your local bakery! Wine and spirits are also a solid choice.
  5. Check your credit card for cash-back rewards. If you have a cash-back rewards credit card, lots of them put the cash back on your card during this time of year (double check yours). You could also use this money towards your Christmas budget.

Need some creative inspiration to get started on a budget? Besides our helpful blog (read how to budget here), look no further than Pinterest! They have hundreds of ideas on how to save on Christmas – check it out here. There are lots of creative budgeting ideas, so come January you’re not crying over your Visa bill.

By planning your budget early, you can reduce a lot of the pressure as we dive deep into the holiday season. Now that the hard part is done, you can breeze through the panicked crowds of holiday shoppers knowing that you have nailed it!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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