Make the Most of Your Winter Break with These Simple Tips

December 4, 2018 | By Emma Frost

If you’re already broke by Thanksgiving, chances are doing your holiday shopping is the last thing on your list.

Shopping’s just no fun when you’re too busy worried about how much you’re spending and whether you’ll have enough to cover all your holiday needs.

But that’s not the way it has to be!

Those weeks leading up to Christmas and Hanukah are prime-time for businesses – no pun intended – but just because businesses want to sell doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to make the season bright!

Here are some easy ways to save money this holiday season, so your “winter break” doesn’t turn into “winter broke”!

Thing to Add to Your Holiday To-Do List

Budget Your Holiday Spending Ahead of Time

The first step to making sure you stick to a budget is making one to begin with! Start by listing out all your expenses ahead of time, and don’t stop at the gifts.

Related: Want to do Christmas on a Budget this year? Read more here and Make a List and Check It Twice: Keeping Your Holiday Wish List on a Real Budget

Having a handle on what your essential, everyday expenses will give you a better idea of what you can afford to spend on the fun stuff, like your seasonal feast or gifts to put under the tree.

Grab your handy dandy budgeting journal and start listing your expenses. Planning ahead will help you get organized this holiday season and track your transactions for maximum savings.

Start Your Squirrel Fund Early

You know how squirrels store their acorns for later? The same concept applies here. Saving money isn’t something that just happens, after all. It’s built up over time with every good spending decision you make.

That’s the things about money – we do have to spend it from time to time, but how we choose to spend it is more a matter of habit than any one act.

Instead of waiting for Christmas to be right around the corner, put a little money away at a time until it’s shopping season. The 52-week challenge is one popular money-saving strategy that can put up to $1,500 into your shopping fund for next year’s shopping.

Getting gifts doesn’t have to be a once-a-year event; shop around all year long for fun goodies for your loved ones to unwrap. While we’re on it, gift wrap and other holiday supplies are especially good to buy off-season.

Having some extra cash and even a few gifts set aside will definitely help keep the stress off the holidays, and it’s never too early to start saving up.

Get Creative with Your Gifts This Year

We all have something we make or do really well that people love: why not consider turning your talents into thoughtful gifts? Whether you make artisan foods, custom costumes, or a master crafter, your skills could really fill someone’s holiday with cheer.

Handmade gifts can be a huge money-saver, and give you the opportunity to let your creative side really shine! When it comes to something made from the heart, giving is better than receiving in more ways than one.

Assemble Your Saving Squad

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a one-man job! Getting together with friends and family can help you get insight on what to get (and what not to!) and even where to look.

Get together, get real, and get tactical. Have a serious conversation about what your shopping plans include and what you can and can’t afford.

Pooling your research and coupons can help you keep your bases covered and get through your shopping list in record time this year. The best part is, shopping is way easier and more fun when you do it together!

Let Others Know If You’re Short on Cash This Year

Getting an installment loan can help if you find yourself in a financial emergency, but if your holiday shopping is pushing your limits, you may want to reevaluate your priorities. And don’t be embarrassed.

Financial hardship can happen to any of us, and your friends and family want to help in any way they can. They might even welcome downsizing their gift-giving this year, especially if it means a better 2019 for their loved ones!

Getting other people in on the conversation can help make sure you, not only avoid overlap (no one likes getting repeats!), but make sure that you stay within budget, too.

Don’t Be Afraid to Give Gifts Late

So, you’re not going to have all the gifts under the tree in time for Christmas – it’s not the end of the world.

Exchanging gifts can happen any time, and spreading out your gift-giving well into January can help you keep that holiday spirit burning long after the yule log has stopped crackling. If you don’t have holiday savings set aside already, it shouldn’t stop you from starting now!

Putting just $100 every week during the holiday season could help you get over $1,500 in the bank by the time you’re through. As those savings grow, they could become your vacation fund, your rainy-day fund, or even your retirement fund. It’s never too early to start saving for next year.

Final Thoughts

The holidays aren’t quite as happy when you let that spending pressure build up on you. That’s why, when it comes to holiday spending, there’s nothing like careful planning, idea-sharing, and good bookkeeping to help you get through your Christmas checklist on a budget.

Make your planning a year-long endeavor. It may feel like a lot of work, but it will help you make the most of your winter break and keep the magic going all year long, too. And no matter what or how you celebrate, happy savings, and happy holidays!