5 smart money saving tips for the holidays

by - December 13, 2016

Growing up at home, the only gifts that I used to receive was my new school uniform and a shirt here or shoes there. We never had the tradition of gift giving. But as I grew older and moved around circles, I realised how many people have picked up this tradition. As much as I liked the tradition I also realised that it can be very expensive.  I love many people, so it gets pretty pricey to spend money on the perfect gift for all of the wonderful people in my life. I assume you can relate?

But as I learned, there is great freedom in honesty. While it might be hard to admit to family and friends that you are on a very tight budget, once you do, your honesty will unburden you from the weight of gift-giving expectation. And if you’re brave enough to share your situation, others might open up as well, sharing in the relief of cutting back.

And considering that it's been a tough year for the country and we've all been feeling the economic pressure, there is definitely no shame in being on a budget, and there’s nothing embarrassing about going through a lean time. When you accept the reality of your financial situation, it becomes much easier to enjoy the holidays.

 There are many ways to get into the holiday spirit without breaking your budget.  Here are some ideas for you.

When it comes to giving, it really is the thought that counts. Most times the best gift you can give is more of yourself. We are all so busy nowadays – between work, school, family obligations, and community or church commitments, it’s easy to lose touch with the people you love the most. And if gift-giving is feeling like a chore, obligation, or weighty expectation, then it’s time to make a change. And gifts are a controllable expense. Overspending often results from not setting a budget and instead leaving the amounts open-ended. Honestly, you do not have to go into debt to show how much you care.

Nine times out of ten, the memories from holidays and birthdays are more about the shared experiences than about the gifts. If you’re on a budget, suggest a big family outing rather than buying presents. Everyone involved can pay their own way, with the ultimate gift being that you all spend time together. Last year, my family and I went for a picnic at the Walter Sisulu Botanical garden for the Carols by Candlelight. It was one of the most enjoyable times we had as a family. We also followed it up with another Candles by Candlelight. We only put in petrol and bought a few items to eat and again it was a success. We did bought gifts for kids under the age of 16.

Traditions are what make the holidays so special, but they can be a financial burden. If your traditions include holiday travel, paying for a special attraction, or surprising your kids with extravagant gifts, you might find yourself going significantly over budget in the name of family. While traditions are important and admirable, they don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In fact, you might find that your kids prefer the cheap stuff to the grander gestures. So many activities and traditions are inexpensive, or even free – you just have to know where to look. By making cheaper events and traditions part of your celebration, you can save money without skimping on the festivities and memories.

A great way to save money during the holiday season is to just spend less — by paying with cash. Sure, credit cards are wonderfully convenient, letting you charge just about anything you'd like at any time without having to go to the bank, but there's a big downside to them, too: You're likely to spend more when you use them. When you pay with cash, you have a finite amount of it in hand at any one time. A cash transaction can feel more real, making us spend less freely.

You also likely receive lots of invitations to parties and holiday events that can end up costing you money for clothes, host/hostess gifts, travel and other expenses — not to mention your time. Consider each invitation and accept those that mean something to you and skip the others.  Remember to keep it simple.

Do you have any other tried and tested tips that help you save money during this time of year?

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