8 smart ways to save this holiday season

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Whatever you celebrate, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and others, this season is all about sharing the moment with loved-ones and bonding with your family and friends (but this year, please keep the gatherings within your COVID social bubble). It is also the time for gift-giving, parties, and merry-making – all of which can cause a strain on our finances if we’re not careful.

If you don’t want to make a dent on your settlement funds, try these tips to save money during the holiday season:

  1. Make a budget and track your spending

    Budgeting can be tedious but it’s the most effective way to ensure that you will be spending within your means. First, make a list of all your expected expenses. This could include gifts (list down each person and how much you intend to spend for each one), food, activities, amount of money to send home, etc. Make some wiggle room for emergency expenses like last minute purchases and the like. Looking at this list, you can already imagine how much you will need to set aside. Review it and cut-back on certain things. For instance, instead of buying more gadgets for your kids, maybe you can opt for less expensive toys. Make sure that your budget is realistic and doable but not so tight that you fail to enjoy the holidays.

  2. Use smart ways of spreading cheer

    There are many ways by which you can still spread the love and cheer that will not cost you an arm and a leg:

    • Secret Santa/Kris Kringle/”Monito-Monita” – If you have a big family or circle of friends, initiate this gift-giving scheme. Instead of buying each one person a gift, you just need to buy one item for one person. To do this, write each person’s name on a sheet of paper, fold, and place in a box. Each member of the group pulls out a name and keeps it a secret. That’s the person you will buy a gift for. This activity adds more excitement to gift-giving and makes it more likely that each person will receive quality gifts.
    • The best things in life are free– Indulge in quality activities with your family. Choose practical (read: cheap or free) bonding moments like enjoying hot chocolate while watching a movie at home, baking together, creating holiday crafts, sledding or tobogganing at the park.
    • New charitable traditions – Create meaningful traditions that emphasize giving rather than receiving. Volunteer with your family at a soup kitchen to serve meals, or at a shelter to prepare care packages (your family could sponsor a hamper for the Christmas Cheer Board). Ask your kids to check their closets for coats they don’t use anymore and donate to a coat drive. Join your own ethnocultural organization and help out a cause that benefit the less fortunate in your home country. These are new holiday traditions that your children will cherish and hopefully continue until they are adults.
  3. Don’t use credit

    Use cash as much as possible. Some experts advise withdrawing cash (as you have budgeted) and use them to pay for purchases. This will make you more aware of just how much you are spending. When the bills run out and you have an empty envelope, that’s the best signal that you should stop shopping.

  4. Make gifts

    Do you bake, knit or do arts and crafts? Consider giving homemade gifts this year. Your gifts will be more personal and heartfelt, they can cost less too.

  5. Maintain your home country’s holiday traditions

    Are there simple traditions you can do in Manitoba to remind you of home? These can be simple things like making a holiday lantern or an advent wreath, going to mass, or cooking traditional food. These are inexpensive and meaningful activities that will give joy to the family and help your kids stay in touch with their heritage.

  6. Do post-holiday online shopping

    If your family or friends do not mind getting their gifts after the holidays, try post-holiday online shopping. You will notice that prices of goods are slashed considerably during or after the first week of January. Shop safely online. Don’t forget to take advantage of free shipping that most merchants offer when you buy more items or reach a certain amount.

  7. Don’t make the holidays about things

    Because of the power of advertisement and various media, the holidays have become commercialized. Some families feel that their kids should have a truckload of toys from Santa or tons of gifts under the tree. Resist the urge to splurge on material things. Instead, invest on having quality time with your family and make it more about the experience.

  8. Think ahead to next year

    Plan to save, budget and purchase early for next year so that you don’t spend more during the holiday rush. Start a separate holiday account where you can put in a bit of money every month (depending on the holiday budget you set) starting in January. Take advantage of off-season sales so that you don’t have to worry when the holidays grow near.

Enjoy the holidays!
Article updated November 18, 2020.
Sources: 9 best ways to save money during the holiday season, Jacqueline Curtis, Money Crashers; 11 ways to save during the holiday season, The Everygirl.com. All accessed December 4, 2017.

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