December is a nightmare that serious budgeters just want to wake up from. It seems like no matter what you do, Christmas will turn your budget into a soupy disaster instead of the structured guide it’s intended to be. While it’s filled with holiday cheer and heartwarming expressions of love, it can also wreak havoc on your bank account. As a result, we’re sharing three ways you can save money this holiday season.
Christmas Card Alternatives
Since we added a new (and adorable) addition to our family this year, I was thinking that this might be the year we send out our first Christmas cards. That was until I started pricing them out. Through Minted it would have cost us almost $150 for 100 cards, not to mention postage. For me personally, it sounded a little too costly given that most of those cards would end up in the recycling bin by January, so I started to think of alternatives. My favorite is probably these square prints from Parabo Press. You could purchase 100 cards for $15 and choose multiple different pictures to print. Envelopes and postage would add to the cost, but you’re still saving a hefty amount.
Another alternative that we’ve considered is the yearly update format. My Aunt Jo has been sending one of these out for years and years and I’ve really come to love them. She types up a one page update on all of their family members and what they’ve been up to in the past year. She dots some pictures amongst the words, and just like that you have an inexpensive way to reconnect with your friends and family members. That’s something that will last longer than any Christmas card could.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Here’s where Christmas has traditionally gone wrong for my family. You will make a list of possible gifts to buy, and then get to work shopping for everyone. You put those presents away somewhere and then, while you should be done shopping, you panic. What if it’s not enough? Then the discount offers keep rolling into your inbox and you start buying a second round of presents just to make sure that you’re covered. No more… This year I’m making a list and checkin it twice. I’ll start with a list of ideas and wants, price them all out and determine what fits within our budget. Next I’ll purchase only the things that I marked within budget, and keep a running list of them so that the next time I think it’s not enough I will have a visual representation that it really is enough. I will also be unsubscribing from vendor emails. If the reminders aren’t flooding your inbox there’s less of a temptation to overbuy.
Stop the Madness
On a similar note, one reason we overbuy for Christmas is because we want to ensure that we are giving a gift that has a similar value to the one we are receiving. It’s time to let go of this. As my husband so eloquently reminded me the other day, he buys gifts because he thinks I’ll enjoy them and wants to make me happy. He doesn’t buy me a gift because he hopes he’ll get a similarly priced gift in return. If that’s what he wanted, he should just buy himself what he wants and skip the middleman. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want… to make one another happy without stressing out about money? Stop worrying about the whether the value of your present is enough to please the other person and just buy (or make) what you think will bring them joy and will also fit in your budget. It’s not a competition and no one will judge you.
How do you plan to save money this Christmas?
Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook
Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.