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Celebrating the holidays on a budget

December 09, 2009

 Celebrating the holidays on a budget

‘Tis the season for gift buying, home decorating, and holiday destinations. But like it or not, the festive spirit can trim your bank account. Fortunately, you don’t have to mutter, ‘Bah humbug,’ to survive this holiday season with your savings intact. Rather, by taking a few simple cost-cutting measures, you can celebrate the holidays in style – and debt-free.

Establish a gift-free zone

Having to purchase holiday gifts for friends and colleagues can easily add up. Instead, why not suggest a potluck supper and ask each of your friends and co-workers to bring something. Not only will you save, but you’ll appreciate the opportunity to spend valuable time with your loved ones.

 Shop in your closet

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without parties and social functions to attend. But while it may be tempting to invest in a brand new party wardrobe, you’d be surprised by what’s already hiding in your closet. By re-evaluating what you own, and pairing old favourites with newer pieces, you can create ensembles that look great – and make the most of what you’ve already got.

 Experience home

If a family trip abroad is out of financial reach, consider attractions in your local area. Holiday concerts, local resorts, or exploring part of your city you’ve always wanted to see can offer a respite from day-to-day activities at a far more reasonable price than foreign resorts.

 Give the gift of home cooking

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on extravagant gifts to please the ones you love. Homemade treats such as cookies, or other baked goodies, make ideal gifts that are inexpensive to make and delicious to eat.

 Create a budget – and stick to it

No matter how many steps you’ve taken to trim holiday costs, it’s still easy to get carried away purchasing gifts and adorning your home. That’s why it’s critical that you create a holiday budget outlining what you can – and cannot – afford to spend on items ranging from weekend get-aways to gift certificates. Better yet, keep a running total of your holiday purchases to track how closely you’re adhering to your budget.

 Volunteer your time

Many people like to give back during the holidays, and volunteering is one good way to do so. Sit down with your family and choose a cause that you believe in and then make a point of volunteering together. You’ll do some good and spend time with your family or friends. You can also take the idea of giving back one step further and pool some of your family holiday budget to donate to charity.