The holidays are often a wonderful time of year – we get to see family, celebrate together, and show our love for each other. But they can also be a financial drain and a major stressor, especially for those of us who may not have the most financial stability. Although it feels like the holiday season can be a budgeting nightmare, a bit of outside-the-box thinking can make it far less burdensome than you might expect. So here are a few ideas to help you save money while still having a fun and memorable holiday with your family and loved ones:
It’s cliché to say that the best gifts come from the heart, but it really is true sometimes. We know that not every gift for every person in your life needs to be store-bought, but the great irony is that we often tend to make personal gifts for those we’re close to, and then spend more money buying less-creative gifts for those of us we see more rarely. An easy way to save money during the holidays is to sit down and come up with gift ideas for your extended family and friends that don’t add up to more than your monthly rent.
For example, if you’re a home cook, then making a non-perishable personal favorite (like jams or fruit preserves, pickles, or snack mix) in bulk and packaging it in individual portions can be a great low-cost gift for your 20 cousins. Or, consider giving homemade “activity tickets” (like “one hangout session whenever you want” or “a dinner with our family”) to friends you don’t see often as a way of not only fulfilling the gift obligation but also helping build your friendship.
If you’ve got friends and family asking you what you want in your stocking this year, consider applying that same creative thinking to your holiday wish list too. Gift cards may seem passé, but asking for a Netflix, Spotify, or gas station gift card can help relieve a monthly expense from your budget for the coming year. If you’re busy working and taking care of your family, consider asking for “service” gifts (a night of free babysitting, a home-cooked meal, etc.) that will help relieve money and stress on you while letting your friends and family feel like they’re giving you something meaningful.
Are you budgeting lots of money to drive or fly out to visit relatives for the holidays? Consider how much money you could save by offering to host this year instead. For the comparatively small cost of holiday dinner ingredients, you could potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in gas, airfare, and hotel reservations by having family come to you.
We know this isn’t always an option – some family dynamics dictate who hosts, some relatives may not be able to travel to you, you may not have room to host everyone. But if you’re able, consider offering it up as an option to build goodwill and new traditions with your family. Who knows, it may turn out to be the most fun holiday your family has had in years, all while saving you money.
This may not be strictly holiday-related, but the holidays do tend to coincide with colder weather and higher energy bills as we heat our homes and stay inside more. But we don’t need to simply resign ourselves to seeing electricity and gas bills jump through the roof once the mercury starts dropping – there are plenty of ways to make our homes more efficient and to live smartly and minimize those additional expenses as much as possible.
For starters, weather-proofing your home is a relatively affordable project that can mostly be done DIY – putting up window insulation film and caulking any drafty parts of your walls seem like small things, but can make your home much cheaper to heat. And changing how you use energy can make a big difference: For example, turning off the heat during the warmest parts of the day, rather than running it 24/7. Make these changes, and pay attention to your power bill to see how it impacts your monthly budget!
The holidays shouldn’t be a stressful time, but for those who struggle with financial planning or who are just starting to learn how to budget, they can be a huge emotional weight on our shoulders. That’s why Spotloan is dedicated to teaching financial literacy and offering advice to help you make the most of your money, regardless of how much you make.
Sometimes, however, there comes a moment where you really just need a bit of extra help. At Spotloan, our simple online application process can help you qualify for the money you need, even if you have bad credit or need a same-day loan. All you have to do is go fill out our application to see if you qualify, and you could receive a decision within minutes. Fill out our application now!