As the holiday season approaches – and oh boy, is it approaching fast! – the desire to create a warm and cosy Christmas for yourself and your loved ones prepares to take centre stage once again. However, to truly enjoy the festive season without the, if we’re honest, easily reached financial stress, it’s essential to prepare your finances adequately. So, let’s take a proper look at how to “winterise” – to take steps to ensure your financial well-being during the holiday season, to make your family’s Christmas season both festive and financially sound.
1. Create a Holiday Budget
The foundation of a financially stable Christmas season is of course a well-thought-out budget. So, it’s always a good idea to start by listing all the holiday-related expenses – including gifts, decorations, travel, and special meals. Because once you have a clear overview, you can allocate specific amounts to each category – and then it’s just a thing of sticking to your budget religiously. This will right from the get-go help you avoid overspending and accumulating debt during your holidays.
2. Set up a Christmas Saving Fund
If you haven’t already, consider setting up a dedicated Christmas savings fund. Starting early in the year or well in advance of the holiday season (so this might be a better tip for next year!), allows you to save gradually. And having this fund ready when the festive season rolls around again can prevent you from relying on credit cards or loans to cover holiday expenses – and there are even options available that can help you save whilst boosting your credit score at the same time.
3. Cut Down on Gift Expenditures
While gift-giving is a truly cherished tradition during Christmas, it’s essential to be mindful of your budget and to not get lost in the consume-carrousel. We personally love alternatives to expensive store-bought gifts, such as homemade gifts, secret Santa exchanges – or by simply reducing the number of gifts you need to buy; after all, it should always be quality over quantity. Opting for meaningful experiences instead of material presents is also a fantastic option, as shared time will always be worth more (which has been proven!).
4. Shop Smart!
If you’re buying gifts or items for the holiday season though, try to be a savvy shopper. Take advantage of holiday sales and discounts, shop online and take your time to compare prices. If you can, use cashback offers or rewards from credit cards to maximise savings on top of that. But be wary that closer to Christmas, things can be more expensive than during other months of the year, so the earlier you start, the more successful you’ll be. Try avoiding impulse buying and sticking to your predetermined budget, though!
5. Limit Travel Costs
For some of us, Christmas also means a lot of travelling to visit family or friends during the holiday season – and this can also be a significant expense. Especially when having to travel further, looking for deals on flights and accommodations way ahead of time is a must – but carpooling can also be an option. And if the pandemic has shown us something, it’s that virtual gatherings aren’t as bad as they sounded at the beginning, too.
6. Organise a Potluck Dinner
Let’s be honest, the food is definitely on the list of things we’re looking forward to most during the holiday season very high up. But hosting a feast is not only costly but also incredibly time-consuming. So instead of bearing the entire financial burden yourself, why not organise a potluck dinner where guests contribute dishes? This not only eases the financial strain on you but also adds a colourful variety to the meal, too.
7. Avoid High-Interest Debt
It’s incredibly tempting to rely on credit cards or loans to finance your Christmas expenses, but doing so can lead to high-interest debt that will linger long after the holidays – and might even come full circle with the next year’s festive season. But if you do need to use a credit, take your time to choose the options with the lowest interest rates possible and ensure you have a clear plan to pay off the balance.
8. Focus on the True Spirit of Christmas
And last but not least: remember that the joy of Christmas doesn’t hinge on expensive gifts or extravagant spending. It’s the cosy, romantic and calm atmosphere, the quiet, warm nights filled with laughter instead of arguments, the quality time you spend with the people you love most, creating cherished memories and showing gratitude for one another. Often, the most meaningful aspects of the holiday season are not the ones that cost the most.