Tips for saving on your holiday expenses
Because holiday expenses shouldn’t gobble up your budget.
The holiday season is a sociable time that usually includes increased spending. These holidays, we want to share some practical tips that can help you maintain control of your finances between now and January.
On Christmas presents
- Make a list of gifts by person and stick to that. If you know that there are specific presents from specific stores that you will need, it would be good time to sign up for those stores’ newsletters so that you can get coupon codes or sales notices.
- Encourage a secret Santa system at work or among your closest friends. If instead of buying four $30 gifts you only could buy one, you could increase the agreed price and still save when buying just the one.
- Consider what your friends and family members might need, time-wise. Does someone need a babysitter often? Is there a garage that they mean to clean out and organize but never get to it? Is there a favorite dish that you could cook ahead of time and give, like frozen homemade lasagna? Giving your time and/or experience is an extremely thoughtful present and it will save you time. Get a nice card to create a nice voucher for it, and you’re set.
Other ways to plan ahead
- If you have a lot of people to buy for (work, family) it’s a good idea to buy a couple of generic gifts (health supplies basket, a large retailer gift card, one or two bottles of wine). They’re a good, quick backup if you forget someone. Consider making these gifts things that you could use yourself. In the end, if you don’t gift them, you can use them!
- While you’re at it, take stock of the gift cards you own; maybe you can use them up to buy some presents -especially if they’re soon expiring-!
- Speaking of vouchers, is there an expensive item on someone’s wish list that you would like to buy? You can save on that by giving an I.O.U. that states you will get the person that item at the after-Christmas sales.
Saving on cooking
- Before making a menu, check your cupboards. If you’re the kind that receives at least one Christmas basket a year, then up there in the back you will find all sorts of interesting seasonings to help you make lamb, turkey, ham or seafood more sophisticated, it will help use up things you had forgotten, and save you money.
- About those nibbles: how often have you come to the table at Christmas already stuffed with chips, olives, and finger foods? Well, we all have. Consider making your own limited number of canapés. They will look nicer and allow you to save by choosing what you put on them; and you will get your guests to the table with room to (actually) eat dinner.
- On the main course: we all wish we could buy that fresh leg of lamb, but it’s on the fresh meats and seafood items where we end up spending the most. It’s perfectly fine to look for frozen meat. Alternatively, we suggest going online to the pages of all your local markets and looking for the cut of meat or type of fish you plan on serving, weeks ahead of time. When you find it on sale or well-priced, it’d be best to buy it and freeze it for later.
Time, planet, and effort-saving notes
- Of course, if you plan on making it worth your time, it would also be a good idea to buy a large cut of meat, ham or turkey, and plan on freezing a bunch of leftovers to eat later on!
- Boxed wine. This one makes many people cringe. Most consumers think of boxed wine as a low-quality product. However, there are sommeliers and winemakers of high standing turning to the practice. Boxed wines allow the producers to send wine abroad at a lower cost (because of the weight per volume), which only results in consumers being able to buy cheaper wines in the box. So they choice becomes buying a couple of our usual wines, or buying a better wine for the same price, in box format. Not only that, boxed wines have a a lesser impact on the environment. They
- On dessert: if you know how to cook, and based on your guest list, keep in mind that there are delicious, decadent puddings, cakes that need no decorating but a pretty drizzle, or cheesecakes that are delish and easy to present. They can all be made a day ahead, saving you time and money.
A few notes
The best way to keep control over your holiday expenses is a budget. If you see that you just can’t make your expenses fit, OAS FCU offers the possibility of skipping payments, meaning that you would free up the payments you’d make for one or two months, and save yourself the time and hassle of incurring new debt.
Oh, and December is the perfect time to start a Holiday Club Account. If you’ve never had one, try it, it’s an extremely rewarding experience.