Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Then January rolls around and it’s time to pay the bills incurred during the most wonderful time of the year. What if this year was different? What if there were no outrageous bills come January? Maybe then you could actually afford to join the gym that you talk about joining every single year. Maybe you could relax a little and enjoy the New Year a bit more. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Here are a few tips and tricks to help make that a reality… or at least make it so that Christmas within your budget (not the Joneses budget) is a reality.
Let’s tackle the issue of Christmas cards first.
1. Minimize your list. That “friend” who you haven’t spoken to in 8 years probably won’t notice if you don’t send a card this year. Only send cards to those who are truly important to you.
2. Purchase your cards from discount stores like the Dollar Tree.
3. Send a family newsletter instead. You can type up the text on your computer, updating all your friends and family on the year’s events. You can even add in pictures. Then print them right at home.
Holiday meals are another large expenditure.
1. Ask friends and family to bring a side dish or to pitch in when it comes time for the big feast. Chances are that they would love to help out.
2. Plan your meal well in advance and pick up must-have items when they are on sale instead of at the last minute.
3. It’s okay to use generic brands when making that green bean casserole. No one will notice.
4. Buck the tradition and do something new this year. Lounge in your jammies all day and snack on a veggie, meat and cheese tray while watching fun movies with the family. Christmas isn’t about the food, is it? Didn’t think so.
And finally, let’s talk about gifts.
1. Cut the gift list down. You don’t need to give a gift to every neighbor in the ‘hood. Select those people who are the most meaningful to you and send everyone else a Christmas card.
2. D.I.Y. Do it yourself. The web is full of ideas for quick and easy gift ideas. Check out www.craftster.org, http://www.marthastewart.com/crafts and www.curbly.com all have ideas that encompass all ranges of craftiness.
3. Shop sales and start shopping NOW. Waiting until the last minute is a surefire way to guarantee that you will be paying too much for a gift that you probably don’t want to really give.
These are just a few tips. Check out these websites for more frugal holiday tips: