Between all the gift buying, festive parties and holiday travel, the expenses of the holiday season can really add up, especially if you’re recently separated or divorced and adjusting to a new budget. How can you make it through to January 1 without breaking the bank? Try these money-saving holiday survival tips.
Make a Budget
Some frugal holiday spenders say a good rule of thumb for holiday budgeting is to keep the sum total of all merriment — gifts, parties, travel, dressy clothes — at no more than 1 percent of your total income. So… have an annual income hovering somewhere around the NJ per capita median of 53,000? This means budgeting to spend about $500 extra between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Staying within budget may depend on your willingness to bargain hunt and come up with compromises. For example, instead of spending $200 on a new dress for the office holiday party, how about spending $20 on some fun holiday-themed accessories to dress up an outfit you already own?
Plan Ahead for Buying Children’s Gifts
As early as you can, get in touch with your ex to discuss gifts for your child. Is there a big ticket item you know your child really wants? Discuss if you can split or somehow share the costs. Do you have your child’s wish list or letter to Santa? Run down through the items, divvying up what each of you will be responsible for purchasing, keeping your budget in mind. Working together with your ex may take some serious flexing of your co-parenting muscle, but it probably beats the time and money involved in going it alone.
Worried your ex won’t fulfill his or her end of the gift-buying bargain. Some couples text photos of their store receipts (or photos of the actual gifts) to verify gift purchases.
Turn Your Party Into a Potluck
Hosting a holiday feast with all the trimmings can sometimes cost a small fortune. One way to cut down on holiday food costs? Turn festive gatherings into festive potluck opportunities for guests to bring and share their favorite dishes.
Shop Black Friday Sales… For Yourself!
If you just moved into your own space and need to buy kitchen and other living basics (including a TV), scour Black Friday ads from the big box retailers — there are often steep discounts on these types of products. The money you save on buying items you need can be rolled over into your holiday budget.
Save on Holiday Travel
If visiting the family back home is a non-negotiable, investigate savvy ways to save money, including using a travel bidding app such as Priceline to save on hotels and airfare. Sometimes traveling on the day of the holiday can also cost less. So instead of buying a high-priced ticket for the day before Thanksgiving, see if there is an early morning flight on Thanksgiving morning. Depending on where you are going, this might mean pushing dinner to a later time. Still, you will all be together, and you will have probably saved a few hundred dollars on the cost of your flight.
Decided the best way to save money is not to travel? We’ve got you covered with plenty of fun ways to spend Thanksgiving solo.
Take Advantage of Holiday Freebies
There are countless ways to get into the holiday spirit without breaking your budget. Check out your local community calendar for free holiday activities and performances such as a tree lighting or holiday parade; snuggle up with the kids and watch heartwarming holiday movies; go caroling; or volunteer your time with a charitable organization.
What money saving tips have worked for you? Please share in the comments!