WAYS TO SAVE MONEY IN DECEMBER: WHAT TO BUDGET FOR
The most beautiful and festive month of the year is well upon us. There is a noticeable buzz in the air. Everyone is filled with a sense of joy and merriment. While my excitement touches its peak in December, I don’t let it derail my carefully built up budgeting and habits that help me save money. Nor should you!
I thought I would share with you some ways to save money whilst still enjoying the festivities of the month.
The holiday season is here. The whole month of December is spent building up to this one big happy day. Holiday decor shines bright everywhere – in our homes, offices, shopping malls, and even the streets. How ready are you for Christmas?
Then there are the celebrations with friends and family, shopping, gifts to be bought, wrapped, given and received. Oh, what fun!
The weather in my town doesn’t get too cold ever. (I always dream of having a white Christmas.) And for those of you who are lucky to enjoy the snow, this is the perfect time for cozying up around a fire. Nothing like hanging out with your family and friends near a warm fireplace or even lounging by yourself with a book and a cup of hot chocolate to give you company.
My favorite thing about Christmas is the music. Just slip on your pajamas with some warm fuzzy socks. Put on those twinkly lights and Christmas music and you find yourself transported to your happy place.
Amidst all the joy and celebrations December is certainly one of the more expensive months of the year. Unless of course you have already budgeted for Christmas and saved up for it using a sinking fund.
For this reason, it is important to implement a lot of easy ways to save money this month. These tips and ways to save money will make December and Christmas more affordable and fun.
In today’s blog, I will talk about how to live on a budget and save money around the house in December. These frugal living tips are perfect for the festive season. So let’s start.
In This Article
Ways To Save Money Each Month
What Happens In December (What To Budget For)
The entire month of December may feel like one big build-up to Christmas. There is much to be done and enjoyed. You have to consider the expenses and how to fund them.
If you have a separate budget for Christmas that is already saved up for, well done! You are prepped and ready to go. But for those who don’t have a budget for Christmas, it is okay. Do it now and make it a part of your December budget.
Make sure you remember to budget for
Christmas presents and stocking stuffers
Wrapping Paper, ribbons, and postage supplies
Travel – home or to a sunny, warm place for a vacation.
Giving and donations
Have a plan on how you are going to fund your budget – how much of your December income can you set aside for the holidays. Those who don’t plan may end up with credit card debt. Using your credit card wisely can help you avoid stress.
If you have planned ahead as I do, then it is likely you have a separate budget for Christmas.
Each year I start planning for Christmas in January itself. First I make a list of all the people who I want to give gifts to – uncles, aunts, parents, cousins, teachers, etc. For each person, I decide a budget and note it down against their name and total it up.
Next, I add amounts for stocking stuffers, wrapping, food, charity and everything else that I intend to spend money on. The sum of all these amounts combined is my Christmas budget.
I check if this amount is something I am happy spending for Christmas and how I plan to fund it. If it is high, I go back and see where I can tighten my budget.
After that is the actual funding of the budget. I set up a Christmas fund and start funding it from January. This way I have 12 months to save and corral up the amount.
Come December my entire budget for Christmas is saved up and I can spend it without guilt or stress. My regular monthly budget does not get impacted by the spending I do for the festive season.
All Christmas expenses are tracked on a separate tracker.
What about things like food, groceries, baking supplies?
I pay for stuff that I buy specifically for Christmas, say ham or some Christmas sprinkles to put on my cookies, using the food sub-category of my Christmas budget. I bill these separately which makes it easier to pay for these separately.
Other general food things, like flour and sugar, which even though may be used for Christmas, are paid for using my regular food budget.
New Year’s Eve
If you plan to go out or host a party yourself for New Year’s Eve, make sure you have a budget for it. Do you have a dress you want to wear or are you planning to buy a new one?
Think about how the food is going to be arranged. Is it a potluck? Are the expenses being split? If you are going to be with kids then plan for some games, food, etc.
Best to budget for these in advance while setting up your December budget so you can cut down on something else if required.
Best Ways To Save Money In December
Use what you have
Make an inventory of what you have – decor, lights, food in the pantry. This will save you from buying things you already own and have in your pantry.
As for Christmas ornaments, these can be repeated year after year. Maybe you can buy one new one each year to represent the year.
Make a shopping list
Once you have figured out what you already have, make a list of things you need to buy. Make sure they were on your Christmas budget and you have planned for them. Use the shopping list as a guide when you go to the stores to prevent you from getting carried away.
Shop sales and pre-loved items
If you can afford to, then wait for sales. Many times you can snag a great deal on Christmas Eve. Other stores wait till December 26th to markdown prices.
Another way is to go searching at the Salvation Army or Goodwill stores. These help you stretch your budget.
Use the internet to search for deals and coupon codes for everything you want to buy.
Choose cheaper traditions
Traditions are what make the holidays extra warm and special. But they don’t have to be a drain on your finances. Why not DIY your own elf for a round of elf on the shelf in your home.
Baking, making Christmas crafts, watching movies are some fun holiday traditions that don’t cost much.
Secret Santa method
If you are a large family with lots of cousins or nieces, or if you have a bunch of friends who give gifts to each other, why not go the Secret Santa route. Instead of giving gifts to everyone, you then have to give only to one person. And, you may want to specify a budget for it too.
Trim the fat
Christmas is a time to put on your frugal hat. There is so much temptation around you that it is easy to go rogue. Question everything. For example, do you really need that hot chocolate? Or, search for cheaper options – why not visit the Santa at the mall?
Potluck your Christmas meal
Are you hosting the Christmas family dinner this year? Start a tradition of doing a potluck meal. Assign dishes to everyone to avoid confusion or duplicates. Let everyone know what you will be responsible for.
Cooking at home during the month
I know this month can be busy and you are tempted to eat out. But, eating at home is cheaper than eating out. Plus the heat from the stovetop can help warm up your kitchen and surrounding areas.
Your oven is not completely insulated. Some heat escapes especially when you open the oven. This heat dissipates into the rest of your house. And once you are done cooking in your oven why not leave the door open and make use of the heat.
Try turning off the heat when you are not at home or turning it down when you are tucked into bed with a pile of blankets.
Keep doors to rooms not being used (or used infrequently) closed. Use blankets to block off the area below them to prevent heat from escaping. Do the same with your garage door.
Look for places where drafts may be entering your home and seal them.
Check if your hot water heater is well insulated. If it is losing heat and is hot to touch then wrap a blanket to improve its insulation.
Finally, let in the sunlight. Direct sunlight can warm up your room by a degree or two.
All these can help reduce your heating costs.
If you haven’t already, switch to LED lighting around the house. They use less electricity and last longer, hence prove cheaper in the long run.
They do cost more to buy. So, whenever you need to replace lights around your house, go in for LED lights. And if you are planning to buy new ones for Christmas this year, go in for LED ones.
Things To Stock Up On In December To Save Money In Months Ahead
There are a lot of things which are available on clearance sales now. December is a great month to stock up on so many things you need.
But remember to buy things you actually need. Don’t go buy things just because they are on sale. That way you end up spending money you didn’t intend to
So let’s get started saving money right away.
Immediately after Thanksgiving is a great time to buy things like plates, napkins and Thanksgiving-themed decor. They are available at throwaway prices and you can use them in the coming year.
Post-Christmas clearance prices of everything Christmas drop to ridiculously low levels that stocking them up is a no-brainer. Think of what you didn’t have this and will certainly use it next year. Think ornaments, decor, maybe even a Xmas tree.
It is also a good time to scour for wrapping paper in basic, neutral prints and colors that you can use all-year-round.
Hams hit their lowest prices in December. So stock up on a couple for the next month or so. Think ham sandwiches, ham and eggs, ham for breakfast.
Like ham baking supplies too hit their lowest this month. The top two items to hit their lowest prices of the year are flour and sugar. This is because once temperatures start warming up many people cut down on their baking.
Cakes mixes too will go on clearance. So time to stock up on your favorite ones. In addition, look for sales on expensive stuff like sprinkles, food colors, butter.
Fill up your pantry with the canned fruits and vegetables you use regularly in your cooking and baking. Make a note of their expiry dates and store only as many as you are definitely going to use.
As temperatures begin to rise it is time to put away our winter coats and jackets. People stop buying warm clothes. This is when stores start offering them on clearance. If there is something you are missing in your closet, December would be the time to snag it at a clearance.
This is a great month to pick up small and big kitchen appliances. If your toaster needs to be replaced, do it now. If you have been saving up for a new microwave, make sure to check out its prices.
Plan Ahead For Upcoming Months To Save More Money
Health and fitness are big at the start of the year. If you are planning to take on a gym membership make sure your budget can fund it.
Keeping up with the health and fitness theme in the new year, you may be considering swapping your food with healthier options be it organic, low-fat, gluten-free or more. These are more expensive.
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent an average of $161.96 on Valentine’s Day. While most people spent on their significant other, more and more people are including their children, parents, friends, dogs, and co-workers in their list.
So if you are planning to spend money on flowers, candy, dinner dates, and toys then make sure you have money set aside for it.
Thanks for reading!
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