Christmas is around the corner again and individuals, families and organizations are trying to beat the rush in Christmas shopping.
Once the “ember” months step in, people start thinking of how to spend the Christmas while some people are like, Oh my God! It’s Christmas already and I have nothing to show for it.
Well, it is still November, so you have some time to change your situation, no matter how bad your fortunes or misfortunes are.
With the excitement that comes with the season, some people on the rich side have started planning their vacations abroad or how to throw elaborate parties, buy gifts, food stuffs and what have you while the average earner is still trying to figure out how not to spend a lot this season and still make it worthwhile.
Some tips that will guide you spend less and yet have fun and remain who you are after the yuletide The first is to create a Budget for yourself or the family.
A cheaper Christmas starts with a solid spending plan. Look over your finances, and decide how much you can spend on Christmas. Then divide this amount among your various Christmas expenses like: gifts, food, decoration, etc. Remember, after Christmas, life continues. So be wise! And make the best of the situation.
– Make a Gift list
Bring focus to your gift spending by creating a list of all the people you plan to shop for. Then, set a spending list for each person and remember to take down gift ideas before heading out to shop.
– Trim down your fit list
Have more people on your gift list than you can afford to buy for? Then, it is time to give that list down. Look at the current list and decide whom you have to shop for and whom you don’t. remember, a shorter Christmas list is better than adding debt and stress to your life.
– Start Early
October or November might be the best time to start your Christmas shopping but it doesn’t have to be the start to your yuletide shopping for gifts. Shop as soon as you can afford to do so. Besides, you will have more time to bargain shop and feel his pressured to buy at any price.
– Shop Smart
Giving a nice gift doesn’t have to mean spending a lot, so shop with your budget in mind. There are many affordable gift items that your family and friends can appreciate. Things like nice ties, perfumes, sandals, etc. afterall, it is not about the gift but about the heart that gives, right? The spirit of reaching out to others is what really matters most.
– Shop Second-Hand
There’s no rule that says gifts have to be brand new. Scout the right stores, market and other second-hand sources for gift-working items at prices well below retail.
– Make it Yourself
Home-made gifts are as nice as store-bought gifts, and sometimes better. Put your creativity to work and off everyone on your gift list. Now, if you are a tailor you can do the sewing instead of buying kits? Great! Make a sweater or head warmer. What about beads? If you can make beads then you can save some money and make beads for people on your gift list.
– Don’t shop for yourself
All of those holiday deals make it easy to adopt a “one for me; one for you” mentality – set a rule that you will only shop for the people on your list and not yourself. The pay off? Less stuff in your house and more money in the bank.
– Skip the Christmas Cards
Christmas cards are nice, but the cost can really add up. First you have got to buy the cards then you have got to go around giving them out. Double ouch! To make your Christmas budget go further, consider skipping the Christmas cards this year, or, at least, trim down the card list to a more manageable size. Still attached to the tradition of sending cards? You can buy nice sheets and write the words your self. It is nice to say things you mean in words yourself.
– Skip the Gift Wraps
Gift wraps have gotten so expensive, that is the really nice ones. So instead of trying to impress, one can buy the gift wraps that are sold for N40. No! then make the gift wraps yourself. Fortunately, it is cheaper to make them yourself.
– Throw an Affordable Holiday Party
Holiday parties are a lot of fun, but they can be expensive in a hurry. Spend some time planning a party you can afford and then enjoy your get-together guilt-free.
– Donate for less-privileged
The holiday season is a popular time to give to charity, but that doesn’t mean that you should give more than you can afford. Get creative with your giving and help others without hurting yourself. There is the exception of your religious inclination though!
– Decorate on the cheap
Trees, light and baubles galore find ways to stretch those decorating naira and you can have it all. Use what you already have, swap decorations with friends, scour markets, make something new with your hands, if you can envision it, you can make it happen.
– Shopping for food stuffs
Definitely, there will be no Christmas without the Chicken or turkey, rice, salad, eba, fufu, semo, drinks, etc but we know that right now all these are so expensive in the market, what with the economic meltdown. But you can save more if you shop for them now than later. We all know that things get more expensive during festive periods, so do it now, if you can.
You can make that Christmas list now, then go to the market and fix prices on that list. Anytime you get a little extra naira, go into the market and pick something. I promise you that at the end of your shopping, you would have done everything with extra naira to save.
Finally cutting down on holiday spending, doesn’t have to mean cutting down on holiday fun. It only saves money for you until your next pay after the celebrations.
Ogechukwu Eluemunoh/Slyvia Njoku