Christmas on a Shoestring Budget

Christmas on a Budget

The holidays are quickly upon us, and many people feel the emotional and financial strain on their wallets. The wish lists get longer every year, your extended family is growing, and perhaps your coworkers have also added you to their gift exchange. Before you know it, you find yourself reaching your budgetary limits and spending more money than you can really afford. So how can you plan an amazing Christmas on a shoestring budget?

Here are three gift giving ideas I’ve developed during those times when I needed to tighten my belt to make ends meet during the holidays. Each one still shows your loved ones exactly how much they mean to you without breaking the bank. And here’s the best part; they are all absolutely free.

Gift Ideas for Christmas on a Budget

#3 Upcycling

You may cringe at the thought of re-gifting or passing off used things as Christmas gifts. So let me introduce the concept of upcycling which takes one person’s trash and transforms it into someone else’s treasure. Upcycling adds value or improves upon the original product, making it more personal and unique.

You are literally only limited by your own creativity. Think of refurbishing old furniture, repurposing old toys, dismantling old jewelry and turning everyday objects into art. If you are the crafty type, this idea will allow you to showcase your skills and create something truly beautiful that someone else will cherish.

#2 Giving your Time

My mother instilled in me the importance of giving your time to help others. The holidays are the perfect opportunity to step outside of your busy life and spend time with family and friends. As a child, I would make coupon books to do chores or small tasks for others. As an adult, the gifts have changed but the idea is still at the heart of why we celebrate the season.

Our family traditions always include copious amounts of mouthwatering dishes and other favorite treats. Spend time making holiday-themed goodies or a special meal together, and make plenty to share. If the kitchen is not your area of expertise, you can also share your skills or teach someone. This could include musical talents, sharing a special story, assisting with projects around the house, or helping  technologically impaired relatives with computer issues. Think of what it is that you do best, and help those around you who can benefit from what only you can give.

#1 Create a Christmas Experience

The most intimate memories are when we can share an experience with the ones we love. This is a lot easier when cash is no issue, but there are thousands of other ways to share an experience that won’t cost you a dime.

My best memories include decorating the Christmas tree, watching holiday movies, and playing games together. There are also other options outside your own home. Many museums, parks, and theaters also offer free admission to concerts and other events. Spend some time researching free attractions and events in your own city, and offer your friends or family an experience they will never forget.

The Reason for the Season

As we get older, the holidays can cause more anxiety than cheer. Don’t forget the real reason to celebrate is to spend time with the ones we love. While we all enjoy receiving nice gifts, remember there are other ways to show your appreciation that won’t cost a small fortune. Step outside the box, and get creative this season to show just how much you care.


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frugal date ideas

Frugal date ideas have a bad reputation. Even money-conscious people tend to buy into the myth that if their partner doesn’t splurge on them for Valentine’s Day, then they don’t really love them. It’s ridiculous, of course. The amount you spend doesn’t say anything about the amount you love.

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Top Seven Ways to Save on Halloween

Top Seven Ways to Save on Halloween

Easy Ways to Carve Halloween Costs like a Pumpkin

save money on halloween, budget halloween, affordable halloween

To some of us, Halloween is an enjoyable time to dress up our children and/or ourselves, carve scary pumpkins, decorate our home with spooky effects, gorge on treats, and spend the next morning jogging off a candy binge. To others, it is time to figure out how much candy they need to have on hand to avoid cleaning toilet paper out of their trees the next morning.

Regardless of what you do the morning after Halloween, with these simple steps you can wake up with a thicker wallet than usual, and not just from hiding Hershey’s Kisses in it.

  1. Buy Bulk Candy – You can save tremendous money by buying individually wrapped bulk candy instead of the overpriced brand name assortments at your grocery store or pharmacy. Do make sure that you buy individually wrapped candies; parents will (and should) shy away from letting their children try loose candies because of tampering concerns.
  2. Make Your Own Costumes – It takes a little more thought, but you can come up with creative ideas for your children’s costumes without having to go to the party store and purchase a pre-packaged costume. Get your kids involved in the creative process, and prepare to be amazed at their ideas.

As for you, what if you don’t like to dress up at all? Get some spare tax forms and go as a tax collector. How frightening is that?

The point is that you can come up with something clever without an elaborate costume. As a result, you will be more comfortable at the Halloween party, appropriately warm, and not burdened by the realization that your elaborate costume makes it impossible to use the bathroom.

  1. Make/Recycle Decorations – You can save significant money by making your own Halloween decorations out of inexpensive craft materials and leftover project materials you may have around the house. Old boxes, construction paper, leftover fabric or worn-out clothes… with a little glue, paint, and markers, they can be made into tombstones, spiders, ghosts, and other timeless classics.
  2. Use Thrift/Dollar Stores – Why pay more than you have to? Thrift shops are full of costumes and decorations for the creative-minded soul at rock-bottom prices. Dollar stores also stock seasonal bargains and are a great source for simple decorations or the materials you need to make them. Go early, or the selection will be picked over.
  3. Pool Your Resources – Find a group of friends with whom you can share decorations and costume pieces. It’s a great way to get more life out of materials without doing the same thing every year.
  4. Bring-Your-Own Parties – If you are hosting a party, try making it a bring-your-own buffet. Your guests may surprise you with tasty holiday treats, and if not… well, what could be more frightening than a mystery casserole? Turn it to your advantage with a creative ingredient list: Eye of Newt, and a dash of powdered toenails…
  5. Take Advantage of Post-Halloween Discounts – It won’t help you this year, but stores will be clearing out their costume and decorations shelves the day after Halloween to expand the Thanksgiving and Christmas displays. You can pick up great bargains to store for 10/31/2019.

You can also pick up Halloween candy at a discount, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that will last more than a week. Show up as soon as the store opens and be prepared for hand-to-hand combat in the candy aisle. The day after Halloween is Black Friday for candy addicts.

Get an extra level of Halloween enjoyment this year by having a great time and saving money in the process. You will enjoy the glow of a fatter bank account, and you probably will not feel nearly as guilty when you raid your children’s Halloween candy after they go to sleep.

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