Let’s face it: while the holidays are filled with joy and merriment for children, they are an absolute blow torch to mom and dad’s bank account. Whether you spend a little at a time carefully pacing yourself between August and December, or you drop a huge wad of cash the week before Christmas, it all adds up. Prices for everything from toys to electronics to entertainment and food all have increased in 2022, making the challenge of a bountiful Christmas that much harder.
Knoxville Moms has pulled together a few ideas to help families save over the weeks leading up to and following Christmas. Here are a few suggestions:
- Entertain at home. Instead of going out to restaurants over the holidays, have parties and get-togethers at home. On average, Americans save about $12 per person per meal when eating at home versus going out.
- Provide finger foods. When hosting parties, consider a heavy appetizer and dessert menu. Instead of shelling out for expensive meat and entrées, offer several hors d’oeuvres to nosh on with something sweet to finish it off.
- Plan a potluck. Encourage each guest to bring their favorite homemade dish. Not only does this save the host a few bucks, it also makes for great conversation starters and provides an opportunity for recipe swapping.
- Bring your own beverage. The cost of alcohol adds up quickly. Have a few basic beverages on hand like water and sweet tea with some juice boxes for kids. Otherwise, plan for guests to bring their own beer, wine, or preferred beverage.
- Shop year round? Some moms say this helps them keep expenses spread out so they do not get walloped with a huge expenditure all at once. However, others say this results in them spending more in the long run. You decide what works best for you.
- Shop the sales. Whether it’s before Christmas or after Christmas sales, keep a close watch on your favorite items.
- Buy Christmas-themed items AFTER Christmas. Holiday plates, napkins, tablecloths, decorations, ornaments, towels, table runners, gift bags, and more are available at huge discounts after Christmas.
- Switch to Secret Santa. When families grow in size, purchasing presents for aunts, uncles and cousins becomes overwhelming to your wallet. Suggest the family consider a Secret Santa exchange instead of purchasing for everyone in the group. You may be surprised that others in the family are wishing to do the same.
- Give gift cards. Your recipients might save a few bucks by spending their gift card at post-holiday mega sales. If your recipients are your kids, then that’s less money you had to spend on their favorite items.
- Consider Facebook Marketplace. Online forums where people can sell their gently used items is a win-win for everyone. How many toys have you purchased over the years that were a big hit for three days, then never got touched again? You can sell that item for a discounted price on Marketplace. You make a little cash, help clear out your closet, and bring joy to another family who gets a gift at a more affordable price. Marketplace works for clothes, shoes, electronics, and so much more.
- Don’t overdo it. Moms always feel hard-pressed to have ENOUGH under the tree. Prioritize your budget over appearances. I know, this is easier said than done. Do your best to resist the urge to flex.
Saving and planning
- Join a Christmas Club. Some banks have savings accounts designed specifically to reserve funds for Christmas time. Ask your bank what options are available to you.
- Consider your credit cards. Some credit cards, like Capital One and American Express, allow users to earn points for items and gift cards. One Knoxville Mom earned enough points to collect $550 in Amazon gift cards by the end of the year.
- Round up. Some debit cards allow users to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar with every use. The extra pennies get placed into a savings account. Think about how many times you use your debit card and how much that could add up. It might make the 2023 holidays a little less tight.
Above all, plan your budget and stick to it. Avoid thinking, “How much should I buy for each child/teacher/friend/parent? What do other people spend?” What others spend does not apply to you. Instead, answer the question, “How much can I afford to spend without going into debt?”