How to Have a Frugal Christmas
Are you looking to have a great Christmas without burning a hole in your pocket this year?
This year has been tough on all of us but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy giving gifts that are affordable and thoughtful this Christmas.
Many people may find themselves in a tough spot where their desires to give out weigh their budgets, especially if they are used to going all out.
AND. I. GET. IT!
This is why my husband and I decided not to spend a DIME on Christmas while still keeping our tradition of buying gifts for our kids and close family members. Don’t worry I’ll explain in tip #8.
Outside of the little hack we use, there are some other ways to have a frugal Christmas that will allow you to really enjoy the holiday with your family without breaking the bank.
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Here are 8 things you can do to have a very Merry Frugal Christmas:
1. Create a Budget
If you start early this will make everything much easier and your bank account will thank you. Set a budget for the amount you want to spend on each person that is realistic.
Decide early on what you want to buy so you can keep an eye open for deals. If you download the chrome extension Honey and find items on Amazon it will notify you when a price drops and save you money from other retailers.
Once the budget has been spent, that’s it! You know yourself better than anyone else, so if you find it hard to stick to a budget, you should opt for the cash envelope system.
Here’s how it works:
- Figure out how much you can afford to spend for each person
- Set aside cash and separate it in individual envelopes and label for each person
- You can only spend what’s in the envelope for each person, NO exceptions. If you have extra money left over from one person you can add to another person’s envelope if you want.
These are some nice envelopes for the low if you want to get fancy, but that’s the way this works and it can keep you within budget and accountable.
2. Keep it Real with Yourself and Family
Can you afford to buy your family everything they want this Christmas? If you can’t, DO NOT GO IN DEBT trying to do it.
Many people rack up credit cards trying to buy their kids happiness and I get that too. Some kids compare themselves to others so the feelings of getting them what they want to grant them bragging rights can make us feel good too or make our kids feel left out if they don’t get what they want.
But do you know what this type of thinking will do? Drain Your Bank Account!. That 18%+ interest will really hurt when you can’t pay your monthly credit card statement off in full. So, is it really worth going into debt over for just the thrills of one day?
If Christmas is not going to look like it used to or just differently, here’s my advice: Let the kids know early, the worst thing you can do is to build up anticipation and then let them down. Talk to them and discuss how Christmas is going to look this year and focus in on my tip #4 that I believe will help things go a lot better.
If you don’t want to break the bank when it comes to spending money on Christmas gifts check out this list of really good inexpensive gift ideas for anyone on your list.
You can also implement the four gift rule: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something they can read.
3. Make Extra Money
I’ve been around long enough to know that even if I tell someone not to spend money on something, if they want to do it, they will. SO if you want to buy your kids or family members whatever they want for Christmas and you can’t afford it, then work to make more money so you won’t go into debt trying to do it.
You can make money fast by doing grocery delivery services like Instacart. My family friend did this and made over $1,000+ in one week and they are paid weekly! You can also do Doordash to make some quick money picking up orders and delivering.
If you’re going to spend money, make sure you have it. I have a list of 30 other ways you can make money from home to choose from.
AND if you’re going to go ahead and buy something regardless MAKE SURE YOU’RE using RAKUTEN! I spend money online the most during Christmas time and by going through the Rakuten app first I get to earn some cash back. It’s not going to earn you a lot but I got a little over $40 just for buying things I was already going to buy. Not bad.
You get $30 just for using my link here.
4. Focus on making memories
Seriously, when you think about it, the best gifts in life don’t cost anything, it’s the experiences we have with each other that really mean something. (corny, but true)
I created a list of Christmas traditions you can start this year with your family to give you some ideas that will really help you have some memorable experiences and THESE are the things that will last a lifetime.
I know that means NOTHING to kids right now, but if you do the things in the article above I recommend documenting all of it (taking pictures of each activity) and look over them on Christmas to remind them how much fun you had that entire month.
5. Think outside the box
If you’re set on giving gifts to your family and extended family members, why not give family gifts? Maybe a set of nice cotton towels (to extended family members) that will ultimately be a lot cheaper than giving each individual a gift?
We enjoy secret Santa because it’s just easier than trying to buy everyone a gift. If you have a lot of kids in your family you could even draw names for the kids and let them have a designated gift to buy.
Most people will love this idea because they can spend more on one family member and get them a nicer gift (or not), it also takes the stress out of trying to figure out what to give to each other, AND the parents (I know I am) will be happy to get less junk (did I just say that out loud? Or write that?)
If you have skills that you can either teach someone or give to someone like knitting or baking that’s a thought as well. Presentation is everything! Pinterest has some awesome DIY gifts you can do for people that will mean more because you took the time to do it yourself.
It’s the time and the thought that we appreciate the most.
Even for spouses, it gets really tough to think of what you can buy each other so why not make a deal to just do stocking stuffer gifts? Little things that are cute and thoughtful and won’t break the bank may be cherished even more.
6. Christmas Decorations Tips
- I beg you not to sleep on good old Dollar Tree when it comes to Christmas decorations. Pinterest has some incredible dollar tree christmas ideas that you’ll have to check out.
- I know some people are big on having a real Christmas tree but we are enjoying our investment in our artificial tree that we paid $100 for and we will literally use it for the rest of our lives if we can. And who said you need a big Christmas tree? My mom has the cutest little Charlie Brown Christmas tree and it serves its purpose for a great price.
- Don’t forget the good old traditions of stringing popcorn on the tree, you know, things that don’t cost much can still help you enjoy preparing for this wonderful season.
7. Remember the REASON for the SEASON
Seriously, if we can somehow reprogram our minds to remember that we are celebrating the birth of Christ, the one that has given us the hope we have, this alone should be enough to cause us to not get caught up in all the hype of buying gifts without acknowledging the real purpose for this highly anticipated and celebrated day.
It’s amazing how society has ingrained in our minds that this season is all about toys and BUYING gifts for others when its true meaning is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. (I’m very guilty of this as well)
One of the ways that we stay focused (kind of) while still buying gifts is to try and stick to only buying the kids 3 gifts, because I tell them why should they get more than Jesus on his own birthday? Lol While it’s true, hopefully, they’ll understand and remember that it is HIS birthday that we are celebrating.
8. How we buy gifts for FREE
Now, here is how my husband and I don’t spend a DIME on Christmas gifts…
We use a credit card! Shocking, I know, but let me explain. You see when you have a cashback credit card like we do you earn points just for using it.
So, my husband and I spend EVERYTHING on our one Chase Freedom credit card because we want to accumulate as many points as possible so we can reap the cashback benefits.
I like to think of it like this, we have to buy food, gas, and clothes anyway so why not get a percentage of that back if we can?
So by doing this from January – December we typically rack up about $500-$600! We received over $600 this year and this is all FREE money but the only way this works is if you pay your monthly statement off in full.
If you’re paying interest that is defeating the purpose. We only spend what we can afford. So however much we have in cashback rewards is our Christmas budget. We deplete that and then start racking up our points again for the following year. Rinse and repeat.
We use the Chase Freedom card and I believe they have an offer right now where you can earn $200 CASH BACK after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from opening an account, which should be easy to do if you spend it on everything like we do.