How to Keep to Your Budget During the Christmas Season
by Melissa Ong. |
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Well, would you look at that? One minute you’re rushing about getting something done for work or school, and the next thing you know, those ever so familiar red and green Christmas decorations are getting strung up at your favourite malls. When did that happen?
How did the year pass by so quickly? Not that it really matters, because now you have another problem to deal with. It was bad enough that you were so wrapped up in everything and thus forgot to buy Christmas gifts, you’re not sure whether you have the funds for it either!
Relax. It might take a bit of calculating, adjusting and maybe even creativity on your part, but it’s totally doable. You can have a fantastic Christmas without breaking the bank. Here’s how.
Take a look at your finances
Hopefully, you’ve started saving early for gifts. If you have, that’s going to make things a lot easier—but if you haven’t, then let’s work with what you have. Despite how commercialised this beautiful holiday has become, remember that gifts don’t have to be expensive to be nice or meaningful.
Image: Transfer Wise
Next—oh, you know this is coming—set a budget. Say that you have RM500 in your Christmas budget—that’s really all you’re going to spend. No excuses. It doesn’t matter if you made a new friend or two in recent months, that’s the budget you’re going to stick to. Get cash out for that amount ONLY if you have to. (Hey, if it’s somehow possible to save money, do it. You can put that extra cash into savings or use it for something else.)
Balance your budget with your spending
Now that you’ve set a budget, here comes the toughie: doing the actual shopping. This will involve a lot of decision-making on your part as you go through all the things that are on sale. It’s easy to overspend when you’re bombarded with lots of different choices and so, so, so many different prices. How does one decide without going overboard?!
This will be difficult to hear but stick to your guns. Or rather, your budget. Like, say Dad’s gift costs RM10 more than expected. Rather than going for the gift you wanted to get for Mom, pick something that she would like BUT at the same time, costs RM10 less. Sorry, mom.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, hard decisions have to be made.
Do stuff for cheap or free
A bit tight on finances? This is where you get a bit more creative. You don’t have to do the whole traditional Christmas gift-giving thing if it’s beyond your budget; when it comes right down to it, it’s really the thought that counts.
So rather than splashing out your money at a restaurant, why not give your relatives a visit? Spend some time with them. Bond. Bake some cookies for them. Even better, organise a potluck gathering so you can really get into the Christmas spirit! This way, not only would everyone enjoy Christmas, you can all get some quality time in too.
Another idea is to organise a Secret Santa event with a maximum budget of say, RM20-RM50 for example. Note that this will work much better with friends. Or, here’s another idea. If you and your friends are all tight on finances, why not plan to skip gifts this year and get together at someone’s house instead? After all, at the end of the day, it’s the love between you and your loved ones that counts.
Start a holiday budget in January
Now that the horror of getting Christmas gifts for everyone is over and done with, here’s to avoiding that heartache from ever happening again. That’s right. It might sound a bit over-the-top, but it’s time to get a head start on your next Christmas budget.
So sit down, and ballpark on how much the next Christmas budget should be. How many friends and relatives do you have? What do they like? How much would those things cost? And so on and so forth. Set a budget. Then, take a look at your salary, and save accordingly every month. Before you know it, you’ll be able to avoid that ever-familiar Christmas craziness next year. Congratulations!
And that’s a wrap. We wish you all the best on your Christmas preparations and of course, to have a wonderful holiday.
You may find out more about Melissa on her Instagram.