However you celebrate this time of year, the old “silly season” saying becomes a reality more often than not. Between the catch-ups with family and friends, the copious amounts of food and drink, the parties bound for next-morning headaches and the mountains of gifts, there’s hardly enough time for you to breathe, let alone your wallet!
It can truly be an expensive pinpoint on the calendar. But, it doesn’t always have to be this way. With a bit of outside-the-box thinking, some healthy boundary-setting and a focus on you, the festive season can be every bit as fun while being mindfully frugal!
At ExtrasJar, we’re all about making sustainable financial decisions that benefit the entire family, so let’s dive in together.
Five ways to celebrate the holiday season on a budget
Before we rip the lid off some helpful tips, we’d first encourage you to zoom out on your own personal and financial situation to gain a firm footing on the “now”. Next, look back on the expenses of last year’s festive season. Do you remember any rude monetary shocks? Things that unexpectedly swelled into costly sinkholes? Morning empty-wallet regrets?
Take it all onboard! This year, we’ll replace those grim surprises with a conscious holiday afterglow.
1. Make a list (check it twice!)
For gift ideas, present recipients, grocery essentials, decorations, chores and anything in between, list-making is one of the easiest ways to zoom out and visualise your spending, progress and priorities. It gives you time to reflect on all of your holiday season tasks side-by-side and think critically about the needs versus the wants.
Plus, it minimises the likelihood of any double-handling. Why is that important? Because with more gaps to fill and things you have to repeat or go back to, the more you spend and the less savvy you are out of frustration and desperation.
Hot tip: Go with pen and paper.
2. Bank on holiday sales
If you must get or give something and there’s no chance you can DIY, thrift or regift, holiday sales are your best opportunity to save. Holiday sales kick off with Black Friday and extend well into January, with some of the best deals occurring just after the gift-giving rush.
Before you set your sights on the first bold-fonted sign with exclamation marks:
- Grab your list and your device – you’ll save more with a plan and minimal aimless wandering in shopping centres
- Get comparing – Google actually makes it easy to compare the prices of the same product across multiple marketplaces with their Shopping tab in Search
- Keep your eye on shipping times and prices – don’t get short-changed or need to prepare multiple ways to say “sorry”
- Sign up to a few online mailing lists – snag the discount and unsubscribe if need be
3. Go in - not out
Overpriced drinks, expensive food, booking fees, holiday surcharges, Uber rides – catching up with friends and family out and about is one swift way to drain your pay. While it can be an amazing time, we’re suggesting you shift focus a touch and bring the good vibes home! Holiday house parties, beach gatherings and park catch-ups are all great ways to celebrate without the hefty price tag.
You’ll be able to curate your own unique atmosphere, play your own tunes, and bring people closer in a more intimate setting that’s conscious of everyone’s wallets. Plus, if you’re hosting, set the rules! BYO drinks, BYO food – work within your budget and still have an unforgettable time.
4. Become a home-town tourist
A holiday at home or a holiday abroad? Sometimes the latter just isn’t achievable or sustainable, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! That’s when it’s time to fill the car with snacks and homemade sandwiches and hit the road. With everything now opening up internationally, many Australians are looking overseas, so it’s truly the best time to explore what we have in this expansive land of ours.
Think free camping, cheap day trips, special moments surrounded by nature – it’s all right here on our doorstep! Don’t want to go past the doorstep? Set up camp in the backyard or build a pillow fort. The amount of fun you can have when you set your sights to what’s in front of you is limitless.
Hot tip: You can have just as much fun as your mates in Bali.
5. Curb the drinks
It may sound specific, but alcohol accounts for some of the holiday season’s biggest expenses – especially within Australia. Argued by some as a social tradition inherited through our UK roots, it’s an almost unavoidable part of just about every occasion during the festive period from family lunches and Boxing Day test matches, to new year’s parties, holidays and festivals. Even if you don’t drink, it’s often still expected you foot the drink supplies if you host the festive lunch or party.
Why not challenge the status quo? Whether you cut alcohol out completely or slice your consumption, you’ll save a lot of cash and your liver will only thank you. Maybe you’ll choose not to drink out? Create a drinks limit? Dive into the blossoming non-alcoholic drink scene? Stick to your word when you say “only one beer”? You do you – save a few.
Hot tip: Tell your guests that BYO is the go!
Make it a festive season to remember without the money stress
You don’t have to sacrifice a good time to save a couple bucks. The holiday season truly is a beautiful part of the calendar, and it’s not worth spending it worried about every tap of the card. So, try following these tried and tested tips from ExtrasJar to secure your bank balance, contentment and health. That’s what we’re all about.
When the new year swings around and it’s time to think pet or health insurance – you know where we are.
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash