Top tips: holiday season on a budget

As we enter the most magical season of the year, it’s easy to get sucked into a spending spree. There are end-of-year gifts to buy, party food to prepare, people to spoil and places to go.

Before you start filling your holiday calendar, why not take a deep breath and think carefully about what this time of year means to you and those you love? Isn’t it more about spending quality time together than overspending on gifts and entertainment?

Here are some tips on how to enjoy your much-needed break without breaking the bank.

  • Be realistic about your budget

Look at your bank account and decide how much money you can safely spend now without having to live on crackers and baked beans come January. It’s a good idea to write out a list of all the gifts you need to buy, as well as jot down all the extra grocery shopping you expect to do for parties, festive dinners, baking and so forth. Then, work out whether you have enough in your budget to afford all of this. If you don’t, you may have to rethink your gift lists, plans and party menus. Once you have a realistic budget, stick to it – whether you give yourself a cash allowance per day or set aside specific amounts for gifts, food and entertainment.

  • Use cash

One sure way to avoid maxing out a credit card or going into overdraft on a debit card is to put away your plastic and use cash only over the holiday season. You could withdraw a weekly or daily amount and once this has been spent, you’re done spending. So simple, yet so effective!

  • Make your own gifts

A great way to save cash and avoid crowded shopping malls is to opt for DIY gifts. If you know your way around a kitchen, you could make jam, bake brownies, bottle up a batch of homemade pesto or even create themed food baskets that include your loved ones’ favourite pick-me-ups and snacks. Simply recycle used glass jars and bottles and then design and print your own labels with Tower. There are a wide range of label shapes and sizes to choose from, as well as software and free templates.

  • Lose the cards

Buying greeting or gift cards for everyone can be such an unnecessary expense during the holidays. Instead of sending cards by snail mail, why not rather send an email filled with news and photos? On your gifts, you could use labels rather than cards and envelopes. This saves paper as well as money. Tower has a lovely range of pre-designed Christmas labels that you can download and print directly from the website.

  • Choose a staycation

You no doubt deserve a holiday after working hard all year. However, when you factor in the cost of getting there, staying there and all the extras you would spend on food, drinks and entertainment – you may realise that you’ll be paying off the holiday for the rest of the year. One alternative is to stay at home and enjoy doing all the things you are usually too busy to do – like hikes, picnics, trips to the beach, visiting friends and just relaxing on the couch!

  • Start planning for next year

As you’re reading this, you may realise that you have already made commitments and decisions that will eat into your holiday budget. Don’t worry! You can always plan better for next year, starting right now. Why not set aside some cash every month for the 2017 summer holidays? Or plan to buy all your gifts during the seasonal sales. If you start the new year with a budget mindset, you’ll be amazed to find how much you can save each month and how this adds up during the year!

No matter how you choose to plan and manage your holiday budget, it is important to remember that the festive season is about so much more than money.

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