If there’s anything the past 18 months have taught us, it’s that it’s always important to keep an eye on your budget because you never know when the next disaster may hit us. When it does, you’ll want that rainy day fund handy – not depleted because of unplanned Christmas spending.

This festive season, make a point of creating a budget for holiday spending, and sticking to it. No matter whether it is for travel, gifts, party favours, or even Christmas dinner – once you have decided on an amount you are comfortable spending this season, keep the number somewhere visible, and stick to it as best as you possibly can.

A great way to save money over the holidays is to decide as a group among your gift-giving circle on a set dollar amount for gifts, or even get creative and exchange home made items! Personalized notes, poems or even vouchers that can be exchanged for services in the new year. This works with family, your friends, or even work colleagues. A free night of babysitting for your neighbour can go a lot further than an expensive new scarf!

A lesser acknowledged but very real expense is holiday decorations. Everyone wants their house to be the most jolly, colourful, and vibrant in the neighbourhood – but this Keeping up with the Joneses game can wind up costing you hundreds of dollars – and if you want to add to your showcase each year, it’s a repeat expense.. 

A great money saving tip is to make your own decorations – this can also double as a fun family activity, and most children really enjoy seeing their handiwork on display. If you don’t want to A couple of well placed garlands, or baubles in the window, give your home or apartment a festive glow without forking out more than you can afford.

Next, let’s talk about travel expenses. We have all seen the films where everyone gets stranded at the airport by a freak blizzard and ends up paying top dollar to get home via alternate means. This does not need to be you! Local travel during the festive season tends to be busy, with everyone going to see friends and relatives, so you can be the exception to the rule by planning to visit your loved ones at a different time. Perhaps just after the New Year has passed, or make a plan to visit in the next few months. If you can’t avoid traveling, keep your eye on the weather forecast, have a back-up plan, and consider travel insurance.

Last but not least – those holiday parties! We know they really add up. From office parties, to family gatherings, and parties hosted by a different friend every weekend. Don’t feel obligated to attend every party you receive an invite for. Decide ahead of time (AKA, now) what your holiday event budget will be, and then decide which parties are in budget and which simply aren’t. Here are some tips to help you decide:

Office functions tend to be catered and more generic, so no need to go big on any new outfits or costumes. Family events are typically more relaxed – no need to get a new Ugly Christmas Sweater to impress Grandma

For friends, you know your group best, and don’t be afraid to have a conversation about budgeting.

If you’re hosting, skip the oversized turkey or ham (and all day in the kitchen), and suggest a potluck or ‘surprise dish’ system, and you will see that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars in catering.

No matter how you spend the festive season, and no matter which special days you celebrate in December, keep your mind focused on your finances, stick to your budget, and you will find that ‘Joyless January’ turns over a new leaf instead. Happy Holidays!

For financial advice and help with creating a budget, schedule a consultation call with Steven today: https://everestfinancial.ca/contact/