holidays are expensive

Is Frivolous Holiday Spending Costing You Hundreds?

How would you like to save an extra $250-500 this holiday season?

When I think of the holidays, I typically picture spending money, not saving it.

The truth is, the holidays are expensive! Some expenses are totally worth it and add a ton of value to your holiday season.

Other expenses though…can add more stress and drain your budget quickly and unnecessarily. Ever stop to think which expenses you can cut to save money? Or how much money you’re spending on things you don’t really care about?

With the help of my Facebook Family, I created a list of 6 holiday expenses to cut out of your budget and save $250-500!

Who’s ready to save some money! Let’s get started!

1. Christmas Cards

True confession, I really like getting Christmas cards in the mail. I love the adorable pictures of my friends and family highlighting their adorable kids and fur babies. I also feel really special that my friends and family think of us enough to remember our address (or look it up) and send us a card.

Not to mention, I feel valued that they spend the money to send us a Christmas card.

My wife and I talk about sending one every year, but never pull the trigger. I’d honestly love to send a cute family picture of us and our adorable dogs. Especially with my wife’s cute baby bump! 🙂

It’s so stinking expensive though! Or at least it can be.

Sadly I couldn’t find any annual statistics. But after reading through some forums I discovered that it’s pretty common for families to spend $75-100 on Holiday Cards. Some people even hire a photographer to do the photo shoot, which can’t be cheap.

I asked my Facebook Family what they thought about Christmas cards and got mixed reviews. Most really like receiving cards, and therefore send their own. Many get a head start and look for deals in October and November to cut on costs.

Here are few of their thoughts on Christmas Cards

“I like them. Personalized ones with pictures are nice. I use Shutterfly and get coupons so i don’t find it a bad price”“I LOVE receiving them….especially those that have a letter updating the past year; therefore, I continue to send them”

“I’ve decided to do cards for people far away that might actually care. I’ll maybe have 10 to send out. I used to do a ton, but it is an extra expense that doesn’t seem necessary.”

“So unnecessary in my eyes. Unless you want to commemorate your child’s year to date. You can also just email that instead.”

“I didn’t do Christmas cards until we had kids, and now that is the only reason we do them. I start working on them in August/September depending on when we get pictures done and can usually catch a lot of good deals on Shutterfly/Snapfish/Mpix early in the season.”

Money Saved: $75-100

2. Christmas Decorations

While it’s fun to decorate your house and make it cute, you don’t need to make every room look like the McCallister’s house. I mean, Christmas literally threw up in every room of their 42 bedroom house and then saved enough to shower the outside too.

holidays are expensive

Now just imagine loads of Christmas lights….and snow…

In our dream world, my wife would love a giant box of cute santas, snowmen, and reindeer to make our house incredibly cute. I don’t know how she does it, but she has a magic way of making everything look cute and adorable.

We have a couple nice touches here and there but nothing extreme or over the top. Here’s why we are pretty minimal on decorations.

Christmas decorations are so EXPENSIVE! Have you gone to the store in December? It’s a few dollars for an ornament and only goes of from there. If you want little santas, trees, pillows, garland, figurines, and lights, the costs pile up like crazy!

It’s like an unstoppable avalanche. Once you start putting stuff in your cart, it’s really hard to stop.

And Target does such a great job of showcasing items that look really cute together, so I feel like I need to buy the bundle to maximize the cute factor. Thanks Target.

holidays are expensive

Such a cute, adorable winter scene. Who wouldn’t love to add this above their mantle!

If you absolutely love decorating your house and making it festive, do it! Just be smart about it. The best time to buy Christmas decorations is the day after Christmas. The deals are INSANE!!!

The year before we got married we socked away $100 to invest in our Christmas decorations. We didn’t have anything, besides a few ornaments, and wanted to buy our “forever” decorations.

I felt awesome waltzing into Target. It was like a going out of business sale! 75% off signs everywhere, shelves being emptied like crazy. It was almost like Black Friday reincarnate! Well maybe a slight exaggeration, but seriously, if you’re looking for a time stock up on house decor, this is the day.

Money Saved: $50-150. This one is hard to estimate so I’ll shoot low and conservative.

3. Gifts for Your Kids Teachers

As a teacher, I LOVE getting gifts from students. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. And my students’ families buy really thoughtful gifts. One family always gets us a gift card to the movie theatre, and therefore gift us with 2-3 free dates. Thank you!

However, I always tell them it’s totally unnecessary. I never expect to get gifts and feel so blessed when families are so generous. Thanks students and families! You are incredible.

Back to the point though. If you want to save money in your budget, this is an easy expense to cut out. Especially if your student is in middle school and they have 10 different teachers! Yikes, that will escalate quickly! Instead, send a thoughtful note, card, or email and use the extra dollars elsewhere. Teachers love that sappy stuff.

Money Saved: $25-50

4. A Real Christmas Tree

I love the fresh smell of a Christmas tree when I get home from work. However, it’s totally a frivolous expense year after year. You can add the same magic with a fake tree that you use for the next 15 years. Of course you need to spend the money to buy the fake tree, but the costs will pay for itself after a few years. If you still need the smell, buy a scented candle. 🙂

Money Saved: $40-100.

5. Gift Exchanges at Work/Secret Santa

It’s fun to get in the holiday spirit at work. I have several coworkers that do a secret santa gift exchange, and to be honest, it seems like a lot of fun. It also seems really stressful to think about buying gifts while I’m trying to plan lessons and make copies, haha.

holidays are expensive

All the stockings were hung by the copier with care!

Most secret santa gifts aren’t too expensive. It’s more about the thought and fun of it. However, it’s still an extra expense and when you need to make cuts, it’s an easy one to eliminate.

Money Saved: $10-25

6. Buying Gifts for Yourself Because it’s a Good Deal

Who doesn’t like to buy a gift for themselves? I love buying my own gifts. In fact, I picked out two Dungeons & Dragons books for my birthday and couldn’t be happier. Yep, I’m a super nerd.

The holidays bring a lot of crazy good deals though and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the madness. I’ve been really wanting to buy an Apple Watch for myself after doing a bit of research. It would be really easy to use the “good deals” as a reason to buy one now even though I don’t have the money saved yet.

Hopefully there’s a sweet deal after Christmas when I’ve saved a bit more. 🙂

Money Saved: $50-A LOT! 🙂

Total Money Saved: $250-500

Bonus: Amazing Wisdom from my Facebook Family! 🙂

I asked my Facebook Family which holiday expenses they view as unnecessary and when cut, create extra room in the budget. I was blown away by their responses in the late hours of Sunday Night. Here’s what they had to say:

“Buying for yourself when the sales start is a tough one.”

“It’s all the “good deals” on things I suddenly “need”. We did a Christmas Facebook post instead (of sending a Christmas Card) 🙂 Free!”

“Not buying stuff just because it’s a good deal, but rather stick to what your list has on it.”

“Shop only with a list. Avoid last minute “great sales” online or in stores.”

“Also be careful with the “deals” often these products are very similar to the regular item but are manufactured with lower quality parts in different factories. This is especially true for electronic devices like cameras and tvs, but I’ve seen it in jackets as well. Check serial numbers to make sure you’re getting a good deal on a quality item and not just a low grade cheaper look a like.”

“Wrapping paper….just use newspaper or white paper and personalize it. Also don’t use bows and make gifts whenever possible.”

“With a big family I save money when shopping by not going out to eat, stopping at fast food or the gas station for drinks etc. We eat before we go, bring snacks etc. Ok not always, but if I need to save money those are some ways because going out to eat can be $200 for us”

“We try to budget the gifts we’ll buy over the year and put in 1/26th each payday so it’s there when we need it. And it’s helpful to remind myself that gifts don’t have to be the only way to give love, even when gifts is how one of our kids is wired. And now that they are older, think quality instead of the wow factor quantity gives under the tree”

“My sister in law does a memories gift…for us usually a concert together, but you could do a movie and popcorn gift…the best gift is time together.”

“Since both kids’ birthdays are in December, we have a pretty tight Christmas budget. We had a conversation years ago that we wouldn’t do big Christmases. We do one “big” gift to the family that encourages time together. I use the term loosely because it’s usually just a game. This year I already got it and put it to use- a ping pong table.”

“My family offers only three gifts:. Something to wear or keep yourself warm and comforted, something to be creative with (art sets, music,etc), something to read. It helps to keep things simple and easy on the shopping.”

“Friends of ours do four:

Something you want, something you need, something to wear, & something to read. It keeps expectations in line with priorities.”

It’s All About What’s Important and Adds Value to Your Life

An extra $250-500 can go a long way toward your financial goals. In the end, your family decides what matters and what doesn’t.

The beauty of a budget is you get to create your own priorities and categories and spend your money to best meet your family needs. If you choose to cut any of these expenses, you’re guaranteed to add a little extra money to your Holiday Budget and hopefully move closer to your goals.

Let Me Know in the Comments

What do you think? Which holiday expenses do you eliminate to save money? Any other tips?

Thanks to everyone who contributed! I couldn’t do this without you!

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Posted in Budgeting Tips, Family, Saving Money and tagged , , , .

One Comment

  1. Have your kids color/draw on plain white paper. Yes teachers love gifts but my kids teachers asked that if we wanted to buy something to buy something for the classroom ex. .. book,toy or game. Also random treats in the teachers lounge is always a hit, teachers love treats.

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