How to Avoid Overspending During the Holidays
Christmas vacation can be an expensive time. You may have gifts to buy, charities you donate to, parties to attend, special dinners and activities planned with family friends. There’s usually a lot going on over the holidays, and unfortunately, it costs money. Most students are on a tight budget, and find it a difficult time of year financially. Overspending during the holidays can often be a problem for people of all ages. So how do you avoid becoming one of these people? The easiest way is to spend within your means.
Make a budget and stick with it. If you have some free time you could always get a part time job. A lot of companies hire extra staff for the holidays. Or you could sell baked goods, seasonal crafts or try cleaning or wrapping gifts for a reasonable rate.There are a number of other ways to save money and have fun at the same time over the holidays.
Here are a few tips to help you get more but spend less over the holidays:
• Make homemade gifts when possible; cookies, squares, paintings, knitted items, magnets, bookmarks, photo frames and albums, key chains and ornaments- the list is endless. Make use of the time you spend on the internet and look for projects that fit your special talents.
• Shop at second hand stores, flea markets or craft fairs. You can get items that are lightly used and priced well below department stores. Items such as: books, CD’s, movies and TV shows on DVD, record albums, coffee mugs and glass ware, toys (for the younger kids in your life), board games, jewelry and ornaments are often reasonably priced and in good condition.
• Instead of going to the theatre to see a movie invite friends over for a viewing party. Get each person to bring a snack and a movie. You could even have a theme: Christmas movies, 80’s movies, horror flicks, sci-fi, comedy, chick flicks etc.
• Do more activities that are free: go sliding, have a snowball fight, bake, have a PJ party, organize a game night, have a winter bonfire and make s’mores and hot chocolate, go hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing.
• Check out some of the free activities being offered in your area, like free skates at a local rink or free swims at an indoor pool.
• Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen or other non-profit organization in your area.
• Take in local minor sports, music and theatre. The ticket prices are often much cheaper than professional events and in some cases they are free.
• Have a pot luck meal with family and friends. This way it will not cost one person a lot of money, or time cooking. Everyone can enjoy each other’s company and recipes.
• Take a day or two to visit friends and relatives you may not see a lot. This is especially fun for students away at school. Sometimes not doing anything can be extremely fun. Talk, reminisce, and laugh. Enjoy the time you get to spend with those you love- that is what the holidays are all about.
No matter how you spend the holidays, try not to let the commercialism and pressure of the season get to you. Sure, it’s nice to give and receive expensive gifts and participate in all that’s going on around you, but the season doesn’t need to revolve around money. Keep it simple. Get back to the true reason for the season… family, friends, love, laughter and memories.