Money-saving tips for the Christmas season

Christmas Ornaments

Though Christmas is a time of generosity, that doesn’t mean you have to set your budget aside this month. It will take some creativity, extra effort, and maybe even some sacrifices, but you can give generously this holiday season while staying on track to reach your financial goals.

To help, here are some holiday savings tips from other personal finance blogs that I’ve found particularly encouraging and useful. 

Do a “Secret Santa” gift exchange — Suburban Finance

I am the youngest of five kids. When I was young, I had no idea how expensive Christmas was for my parents. But when I got older, I felt obligated to buy gifts for all my siblings and parents for Christmas, and I came to understand why some people were so stressed during the holidays and how it’s possible to quickly build up credit card debt to buy gifts.

About ten years ago, my family decided to do a Secret Santa instead of buying gifts for everyone. Karen from Suburban Finance sums up why this is such a great idea:

I am a HUGE fan of Secret Santa/Kris Kringle/Secret Gift Exchange, etc. Why? Because it is efficient. It saves you time, money and most of all sanity. It is like a godsend to non-shoppers like myself. You just have to shop for that one person.

Save time, money, and my sanity? Yes, please. My family doesn’t miss the extra gifts and everyone appreciates the time and money we save through a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Shop thrift stores — Three Thrifty Guys

If you’ve shopped at a thrift store like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or any other second-hand discount store, you know that it’s possible to get some very nice stuff at bargain prices at these places. Charlie from Three Thrifty Guys thinks the holidays in particular are a good time to shop at thrift stores:

Around the holidays…people are aggressively donating unused and old items to thrift stores to make room for all the Christmas gifts they’ll receive…New Years resolutions are around the corner, and lots of folk typically will set New Years resolutions to “declutter” their homes. Take advantage of this and be sure to visit your local thrift store.

I understand that not everyone appreciates receiving used items or clothes as gifts. Still, if you’re not comfortable buying gifts for people at a thrift store, you can find Christmas decorations for your home, winter coats, or perhaps even dress clothes for you and your family should you need some for a Christmas service or dinner party.

Be frugal! — Bible Money Matters

I know this is a really general tip, but it’s an important one. It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving and give the hottest toys to your kids or newest gadget to your techie friends. But remember: it may be Christmas, but that doesn’t mean it’s your responsibility to get people everything they want.

Peter Anderson at Bible Money Matters recognizes that it can be hard, but a thoughtful, personal gift can also be a frugal gift:

Once you’ve set a budget finding gifts that can fit within it or that are a bit more frugal than some other possible choices can be tough. You really have to be creative. The key, however is to be thoughtful and personal.

Read his full article for plenty of frugal gift ideas.

Don’t overdo the spread — MintLife Blog

Are you hosting a Christmas party? Don’t buy an excessive amount of food Mary Hiers writes on the MintLife Blog:

If there are enough leftovers after a meal to feed for your family for the rest of the week, U.S. News and World Report recommends cutting back a bit on the holiday spread.

If you hosted Thanksgiving, think about how many people you served and how much food there was — did you have a lot of food left? If you’re having a similar crowd over in a couple weeks, you can use your Thanksgiving meal to gauge how much food you need to serve on Christmas to avoid having too many leftovers.

Provide a service — WiseBread

Can’t afford to buy anything this year? If you still want to give a gift, consider providing a service. Andrea Karim lists 14 service-oriented gifts on WiseBread. And don’t think you don’t have any services to offer, she says:

People frequently downplay their own skills and talents, thinking that the things that they are really good at aren’t useful to other people. It doesn’t matter how trivial your talents may seem; they’re probably incredibly useful to someone else.

Do you have any money-saving tips for Christmas?

If so, we’d love to read them. You can share them in the comments below!

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