The holidays are a time of good cheer, but they’re also an expensive one. Between gifts, parties, and traveling, costs can mount quickly while your bank account drains just as quickly. Many of us feel guilty about trying to cut costs during a time when we should be celebrating and cherishing family, but we shouldn’t. Money spent during the holiday season is money that you may need for necessities during the rest of the year.
While the holidays are a time for showing those you love how much you love them with gifts, there’s no shame in setting a reasonable limit for each gift. It’s best to set the limit before you leave the house, as it’s far too easy to overspend when you’re in the midst of shopping. To find the upper limit of your budget, just decide how much money total you want to spend on gifts this year, and then divide that number by the amount of people you’re going to give gifts to.
Having a set budget you can’t go past can actually lead to more thoughtful and creative gifts since you’re forced to sit down and think about what the recipient of the gift actually wants and values.
Many of travel either to visit family or go one vacation over the holidays, but if you’ve ever taken a trip at this time of year you know exactly how expensive plane tickets can be. Everyone wants to travel during the holidays which creates a crush of people and ticket prices to soar as demand outpaces supply.
The best way to get a fair price on tickets is to keep an eye out on the flights you want weeks and months in advance. Ticket prices are infamously mercurial, and swing in cost from high to low based on the time of day. If you check in daily on the price of the tickets you’re looking for, you’ll get lucky at some point and be able to buy them when the price is low.
By the time you’re an adult, Christmas gifts have largely lost their luster: as adults if we want something we go out and buy it unless we don’t have the money, which means that the only kind of good gift is either expensive or thoughtful. And the truth is that being thoughtful for every single one of your friends and family is exhausting if not impossible.
One gift, though? It’s easy to be thoughtful if all you need to give is one gift, and it will also drastically decrease your gift costs. The trick then becomes how to cut down on how many gifts you have to give, and the best way to do that is to organize a Secret Santa gift exchange with your family and friends.
If you’ve never heard of it or don’t know exactly how it works, in Secret Santa a group of people all put their names in a hat then pick another name from it. The person whose name they pick then becomes the sole person they’ll give a gift to. This way no one feels left out, but also are only responsible for giving one gift.
There are ways to keep your spending manageable without sucking all the joy out of the holidays or resorting to installment loans, though. Use some of our favorites we’ve gathered here for keeping your Christmas merry even on a budget, and have a happy holiday season!