The National Retail Federation predicts that the holidays are the most expensive event of the year for most people, costing approximately $1k per person.

Here are some tips and tricks to reign it in, particularly if you’re trying to save money or get out of debt…

1). Start planning early.

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about your gift list or get your shopping done. While the holidays are upon us this year, this is a practice you can implement moving forward. And, if you keep it top-of-the-mind, you can start thinking, planning, purchasing earlier for next year. The more time you give yourself to plan and save the less likely you will be to overspend or make impulse purchases.


2). Evaluate and get creative.

Take a moment to consider the people on your list and decide whether they are someone you need to buy a gift for. This sounds a bit harsh, but in our consumer-driven society gift giving can have the tendency to get a little out-of-control. Consider the following…

  • Gifts for co-workers and officemates. How many “extra” people do you buy for in this category, out of routine or expectation? Is it necessary? What would happen if you let each other off the hook?
  • Gifts for friends, cousins, etc. How many people in this category do you buy for? How much money do you spend on each? And, do you feel good about it? What would it look like to share a low-cost experience instead?
  • Gifts for the family. This one is the hardest, especially if you love giving gifts as I do! How many people in your family do you buy for? And, what do you spend on each? Could you get away with less? Or, think of some ways to save—by making gifts, sharing a low-cost experience, having a lottery gift exchange (where people draw numbers), and/or shifting the focus from being so much on material things?

Now, don’t get me wrong… if you have the money and are happy to spend it in these areas then carry on! The issue is when you don’t have the money or would like not to spend it because it feels like an obligation. Consider who is on your list, whether they need to be there, and how you might be able to treat them in a way that costs less and is more meaningful.


3). Don’t forget about seasonal extras.

In addition to gifts, there are many other extra expenses that can creep in under the radar screen. This is such a fun, festive, and busy time of year with a lot of extra activity. And, sometimes, a lot of extra expense. Here are some areas to be cognizant of, as well as some money-saving tips…

  • Have a million parties to go to? Feel like you need a new outfit or three? Before you head to the mall, consider these options instead:
    • Hop on Pinterest and search “Women’s Holiday Fashion” or whatever item of clothing is your trusty go-to (i.e. “black wrap dress”) for new inspiration on how to style and pair what you already own.
    • Shop secondhand, either locally or online. Formal wear is often worn only once or twice before being donated and you can find some great deals! My pick for an online distributor is ThredUp. They are sustainable, affordable, and always have a huge selection.
    • Rent. This is a little more expensive but oh-so-fun for a special occasion and still cheaper than buying a whole new outfit. Rent the Runway is a fun way to wear something special without the accompanying sticker shock.
  • Hosting a party of your own? Consider altering the time, so you can serve just hors-d’oeuvres or dessert and drinks or make it a potluck—this works best with a theme (i.e. favourite holiday dish from childhood) and some sort of sign-up (i.e. 2 entrees, 6 sides, 3 desserts, etc.).
  • Looking for something to do? Consider activities that aren’t going to cost an arm and a leg. Some examples: free community events (tree lightings, holiday concerts/caroling, pancake breakfasts, etc.), holiday scavenger hunts (lots of ideas here), or a DIY Christmas lights tour (bring along a thermos of hot chocolate, crank the holiday music, and see who has the best lights in town).


Here’s wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season – that doesn’t break the bank.

For more financial planning and management tips, you can find me on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Lots of light and love,

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