Christmas – it’s everywhere. No matter where you turn – TV, radio or in the stores, someone is trying to sell you something. Spending within your means is one thing but if you’re spending more than you’d like, the overindulgence can wreck havoc on your personal economy. It is never too late to look at your spending habits and challenge yourself to cut back.
Following are some good ways to keep your spending from careening out of control:
Use reward points towards gifts. Most point programs like Air Miles will allow you to convert miles (points) into wonderful gifts like magazine subscriptions, dining certificates, or electronics.
Know your weaknesses. It’s an advertiser’s job to appeal to your emotions at every turn. Be prepared for this and maintain your willpower.
Think personal over lavish. Think of some of the most memorable gifts you’ve received, chances are they didn’t cost a lot but where thoughtfully selected or handcrafted. Keep this in mind when selecting gifts.
Give an ‘I owe you’. This idea is perfect for those with older children. Instead of paying full price for clothing and accessories in the days prior to Christmas give them a homemade gift certificate for a Boxing Day clothes shopping spree. That way, you spend 50 to 75 percent less than what you would have spent prior to Christmas.
Stock up on basics. Use the holidays as an opportunity to stock up on year round items like craft supplies, educational books etc. Some families wrap up these types of gifts and then store them away until required. Chances are you would be purchasing these items anyway so why not give them as gifts?
Give a gift of yours. If you have something a friend or relative admires, consider giving it to them as a gift. Where appropriate attach a note.
Create a little mending magic. What a great gift it would be for your husband to finally mend that extra pair of casual pants or replace the buttons on his favorite overcoat.
Wrap up new-to-you toys. Dig through your basement or attic to find outgrown toys. Give them a new life with a little TLC and they may make a wonderful gift for a young niece or nephew. Consider the child’s age and how much she may enjoy receiving a gift of her cousin’s dollhouse with all its furniture. Many kids think it’s a big deal to get a ‘hand-me-down’ from an older child they look up to.
Create a personalized photo album. And, while you’re in the basement, do you have any loose photos that could be put in a scrapbook for a loved one? Be creative and come up with a gift that will be long remembered.
Give the gift of time. You can also do away with traditional gift giving completely by gifting your time instead. This Christmas, consider spending 'time' not 'money'. Parents with young children would probably really appreciate the gift of babysitting. Elderly friends and relatives almost always enjoy a visit over a gift that comes in a box.
With a little creativity, I'm sure you can come up with many more cost effective ways to enjoy the season with loved ones without becoming a financial casualty.