Monday, October 8, 2018

10 Holiday Hacks for Saving Money

With several holidays coming up in the next few months, here are a bunch of ways to save money on the most common things we do during the holidays:

  1. Meals.  Whether it's Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas morning breakfast, make family get-togethers potlucks where everyone brings a dish or another part of the meal (drinks, plates and napkins, etc).  This way the financial burden of hosting such a meal is spread evenly instead of falling on just the host.
  2. Decorations.  Dollar Tree decorations are just as festival as expensive decorations from a department store.  If you are particularly crafty you can make your own decorations for an additional "wow" factor.
  3. Gifts.  Gifts can either be unique and inexpensive (giving people experiences over material items) or crazy expensive (new car anyone?).  Most people fall somewhere in between when it comes to holiday gifts so one of the best ways to procure a lot of gifts with a little money is to start shopping early--like late summer--and buy things as they go on sale over the months prior to Christmas.  Also, limiting the number of gifts each person gets and in big families, choosing names so that each person only buys a gift for one or two other people instead of all family members, is a great way to share the holiday spirit without going bankrupt.
  4. The centerpiece.  If you are looking for pumpkins to carve, turkeys for dinner, or a big, beautiful Christmas tree, look towards cheap DIY (grow it yourself!), a bit more expensive method of letting someone else DIY (pick your own pumpkin at a local farm or cut your own tree with an inexpensive DNR permit), and big sales (pumpkins and turkeys are often loss leaders at the local grocery store during the holidays).
  5. Gift wrapping.  Again, cheap gift wrapping is where the Dollar Store shines.  The wrapping will literally be thrown in the garbage as soon as it is removed so why spend a lot of money on this when you can buy reams of wrap for a dollar?
  6. Desserts.  Baking supplies like flour, sugar, canned pumpkin, etc. are often on sale this time of year and baking things yourself is actually super easy (and super inexpensive compared to buying desserts at a bakery).
  7. Halloween trick or treating.  It seems like the number of kids going door-to-door to trick or treat has really dwindled over the years.  These days many places in town host "trunk or treat" events which is both less expensive (you can donate a bag of candy to someone's "trunk" or table, instead of having to buy a dozen or more bags of candy to give away from your home) and safer than having kids wandering around in the dark.
  8. Thanksgiving Black Friday shopping.  Black Friday (or these days Black Thursday evening right after Thanksgiving dinner) is hyped to make you spend more money.  Don't shop if you don't need things, look at the sale items and determine if they are really good deals (the specs on electronics, for example, are often not as good as the regular item as they are made especially for Black Friday), or you can simply #OptOutside.
  9. Christmas traditions.  I think traditions are more memorable than a pile of gifts that will soon be forgotten.  Families that develop annual traditions around the holidays can do this on the cheap like watching "It's a Wonderful Life" complete with popcorn (hubby and I watch a sappy Christmas romance movie on Netflix each evening starting a couple weeks before Christmas) or singing Christmas carols, etc., and have a very memorable, fun time with a minimum of money spent.
  10. Giving back.  The holidays are a good reminder to give back to those in need.  Whether you donate your time and volunteer at a soup kitchen, dress up like Santa to entertain the kids, knit scarves to give to the homeless (thrift stores have lots and lots of cheap yarn!), there are several ways you can give back with very little expense.

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