With Christmas a mere 11 weeks away, now is actually the best time to plan ahead, money-wise. Canadian households spend an average of $ 1 400.00 on Christmas items, i.e. gifts, food and decoration. This yearly frenzy can leave you frazzled and feeling the pinch, financially. Here are a few tips to avoid the “January hangover”:
- Remember the true meaning of Christmas, regardless of your religion or origins. Christmas is definitely not about gifts and overeating.
- Take inventory. Before buying anything, go through your home to check what you already have. You don’t need brand new deco every year. There might also be a few items you have never used and that could be suitable gifts.
- Make a list and be (very) selective. Does the second cousin you haven’t seen in 5 years really need a gift from you? Growing-up, my parents only bought presents for their children, nephews and nieces and themselves. It was pretty much the same for my other relatives. Nowadays, it is a parents-children gift exchange. Last year, I only bought three gifts: one for my parents, one for the office party and one for the friends’ party.
- Set a dollar limit and stick to it. A $10-$15 gift for friends and co-workers is pretty common. For family, you might spend a bit more, but you should be comfortable with the amount and you should not have to pay any interest on it. As written above, Christmas is not about gifts.
- Go potluck-style. Entertaining and feeding people can cost a ton! If you plan on hosting, ask your relatives or friends to bring a dish. My family has always done so and we have always had great food on the table.
- Spread your shopping. The closer we get to December 25th, the more expensive everything is. Don’t wait for the last minute. Look for deals now. Buy a few items each time your paycheque comes in, instead of charging them to your credit card.
- Skip some invitations. Most people receive lots of invitations during the Holiday Season. Between work, school, church, places you volunteer at, friends and family, it can feel and be like a 24/7 social marathon. It can leave you exhausted, not to mention you end-up spending a lot of money. Last year, I only attended three parties. I had a great time and I felt refreshed when my vacation was up.
Being a bit of a Grinch over Christmas can not only be good for your wallet, but also for your sanity.