The festive season is the time to relax, have fun, and create special memories. This can be a costly period, which adds unnecessary stress to your life. Try some of these tips to save money this Christmas to make sure you sill have a (financially) happy new year!
Save money this Christmas
1. Save money by buying clever gifts instead of expensive gifts
It truly is the thought that counts. Spend some time thinking of some gifts that are uniquely you, and make them yourself as far as possible. Here are some ideas:
- Create home-made vouchers promising the bearer that you will take them out for a cup of coffee. Price for two: R80.
- Bake something amazing and give this as a gift. You could bake chocolate brownies, fudge, etc, and wrap it in a nice box. Price: R60 for 3 gifts (15 brownies in total).
- Make your own body scrub and gift it in neat jars. Price: R35 per jar.
- Take a special photo, have it framed and give it as a gift. Price: R50 per gift.
- Have a look at the 5 Best Xmas Gifts for the Gay Men in Your Life.
When it comes to wrapping your gifts, get a roll of bulk paper from a wholesaler (preferably earlier in the year before the Christmas rush). This will save you many rand per metre.
2. Don’t give both cards and gifts
Either give someone a card, or a gift, not both. Cards are quite expensive, sometimes costing over R50. You could always give someone a card instead of a gift, or perhaps add a small chocolate with the card.
You’ll want to write a special and personalised message though. Tell the person how much they mean to you, and what they did for you during the past year. If that is difficult, suggest that you’d like to spend more time getting to know them next year.
If you are giving a gift, rather add a small gift tag that you can buy in bulk. You can still write a personal message while avoiding the cost of a card.
3. Set up a secret Santa with your friends
Instead of everyone buying a gift for everyone else, set up a secret Santa group where you only give and receive one gift each within your group. This might allow you to up your budget on the gift, but still save money compared to buying 10 gifts. There are great online secret Santa tools that make the random draw easy for you!
4. Save money by reducing alcohol and eating out
Yes, it’s the season to be jolly, but saving money now will help you have a more jolly year next year. Drinking and eating out is very expensive. Try these tips to save money:
- Make use of two-for-one and happy hour specials.
- Bring your own wine. Corkage would still often be cheaper than buying a bottle off the menu. Even better, find restaurants that do not charge corkage.
- Buy raw ingredients, and get your friends to meet for a picnic in the park or on the beach, rather than eating out.
- Have a cocktail making evening at your home. Allocate ingredients to buy among your friends, and make them at home. You can easily make cocktails for about R30 each at home compared to R80-plus at restaurants.
PS, don’t even think about driving after drinking. You really don’t want to spend time in a cell.
5. Use cash, not credit
Normally, I use my credit card for every purchase, even if I’m buying a single packet of chips. But I’m moving to cash for the December/January period. Using your card is just too easy to spend money. I often find myself inserting the card, punching in the pin, taking my card and then not even noticing how much I spent. With cash, you are forced to count the notes. This often comes with a surprise at how much I just spent, and a promise to cut down next time. Using cash will almost guarantee that you’ll save money.
6. Create a budget and stick to it
Most importantly, sit down and plan how much money you are willing to spend between now and the end of January, and stick to this plan. Sure, if you save money on one area of your budget, you can spend a bit more on another, but you must not go above your overall budget limit.
Budgeting allows you to do two things:
- You make sure you do not spend above your means, allowing you a guilt-free start to the year.
- You can enjoy the Christmas period without having to worry financially, because you already know what you are going to spend.
Track your spending on a notepad, spreadsheet or use an app. There is no point having a budget if you don’t track each spend against the budget.
Lastly… enjoy the festive season!
Don’t let money and budgets ruin your festive season. Despite the way it seems, you don’t need to spend lots of money to enjoy your festive season. Spending money is just the easy way out. There are many cheap or free things you can do with friends or family over this season, while still having tons of fun and creating special memories.