Deep Dive

How to enjoy the Holiday Season without breaking the bank

January 16, 2024

The holiday season is here, and after two years of plans either pared back considerably or cancelled altogether, it’s understandable that we want to make up for lost time. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, making up for lost time doesn’t mean having to spend lots of money, getting into debt or derailing our finances to do so. Here are six ways to enjoy this holiday season without feeling like Scrooge. 🎄

Set a reasonable budget

Set a budget based on what you can afford, not what you want to spend. Be honest with yourself on what this figure looks like, and which area of your finances you’re pulling it from. There’s nothing wrong with dipping into our savings if that’s want we want to do, but at the tail end of the year, we often have a heightened sense of YOLO and it’s easy to deflect the issue to next year thinking, “it’s OK, I’ll worry about it in January.” But our money habits and behaviours do not reset at the start of a new year and no holiday season is worth the added stress on our finances. 😅

Once you’ve got a budget you’re comfortable with, get an idea of how much things may cost you. Factor in costs such as transport and parking, food and drink you might want to buy while you’re there, as well as the cost of babysitters, potential new outfits and ticket fees. Once you’ve got a rough idea of the costs, you might see that you need to cut down on some events or extra expenses (such as the new party dress) in a way that works for your budget. When you’re worrying less about the financial side of things, then you’re bound to enjoy it more too.  

Pick the events and occasions that are important to you

Pantomimes, the work Christmas party, Boxing Day sales, meeting Father Christmas; this time of the year is usually brimming with events and activities, and it can often feel like there are endless opportunities for us to spend money. But if you’re working with a fairly tight budget then it might be worth cherry picking the events that matter most to you.

First, look at the events you’re most excited about and that you’ve already committed to. Can you reduce some of your expenses here? Then look at everything else. Is there anything you’d happily miss to free up some of your budget? Remember, it’s not about restriction - it’s making sure your money isn’t being eaten up by events or those additional expenses that aren’t important to you so you have more money to spend on the events or elements that truly matter. 

Have honest conversations with your friends and family

If there are invitations you need to decline because they don’t work for you financially, then be honest with your friends and family. You don’t need to delve any more than you want to; it’s simply enough to say, “please can we do this next year or how about a chilled evening at mine instead?” Incredible makes it easy to get a transparent overview of your debt, which can make it feel less overwhelming and prompt you to instigate these conversations. After all, knowledge is power. Also, with it being such a busy time of the year I am convinced that the quieter, less buzzy - and usually less expensive - alternative will be warmly received. 

Find free and affordable things to do in your area

Look through your local newspaper and community Facebook groups for free and affordable events. It might be soaking up the atmosphere at a Christmas fayre without spending a penny or looking at the Christmas light displays. There’s usually a lot of free children’s entertainment available at this time of the year too. Combining free events with more expensive ones can help you feel like you’re getting more out of your money while still getting into the Christmas spirit. 

Reuse, repurpose and borrow

An easy way to save money during any time of the year is to reuse and repurpose anything you already have, but this can be especially true of the holiday season too. Plus it’s excellent for the environment and from a sustainability point of view. This can be anything from your Christmas decorations, or the outfit for your work Christmas party. I promise you - no one remembers what you wore last year and how old your decorations are. It’s always worth checking whether your friends and family have items you can borrow since this can save you buying something that you will only use once or twice in the year. This will also help you to cut back on additional expenses that often eat into a budget. 

Be aware of the Christmas markup

Festive menus, limited edition Christmas sandwiches and Christmas events will nearly always have a big markup on them. If you’re watching the pennies or wanting to make your money go further, be smart about how you’re spending it. Choosing the standard dinner menu - or even better yet, a lunch menu - over a special festive menu might be able to save you big bucks. Consider whether you’re truly getting a good deal or whether it’s been cleverly wrapped up as a Christmas special with a couple of added extras that you didn’t want. Let’s be honest, the gift with purchase is rarely that good anyway. 😉

We can often feel guilty for spending money on ourselves, but embrace the Christmas spirit and enjoy the holiday season without guilt. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly and that includes taking care of our finances too.