Surviving (and Enjoying) the Holidays on a Budget

As the holiday season approaches, we’re spending lots of time thinking about all we’re grateful for: family, friends, health, work, financial stability, love, support…and the list goes on and on. On the flip side of gratitude comes another thought: saving money. YES! Saving money is critical as we plan to move abroad and so we want to create the best economic situation for ourselves prior to our departure. So how are we going to do that?

We all know that the holiday season is wonderful because of all the time spent with loved ones, gift giving and cheerfulness; however, the ugly truth is that we spend a lot of money in a very short period of time. From gifts to happy hours to entertaining, Americans spend a great deal of money this time of year. So what can you do if you’re planning to travel or move abroad?

In order to stay on track and save money before we move abroad, we came up with a few tips:

1. Set a clear budget before all the invitations come pouring in.

As soon as you finish reading this blog entry, start thinking about what activities you know will take place (i.e., family celebrations, New Year’s Eve dinner, holiday work party, etc.) and create a clear expectation of what you will attend and how much you plan to spend on each activity. Is it necessary to buy a new outfit for each party? Can you share the cost of food, gift for the host/hostess, etc. with someone else also attending the same event? Do you have to buy the latest gadget for your special someone this year?

Think long and hard about what is an obligation before the season begins and come up with a clear game plan for yourself. This will give you the best chance of staying on budget.

2. Give quality, budget gifts.

For many people, this time of year involves giving gifts to those you love. It is a very sweet gesture and one that is looked forward to by all; however, it is often stressful when you are on a budget. So what can you do?

If you’re on the gift-giving side, consider homemade gifts that are thoughtful, yet inexpensive. You want to find frugal — but not cheap — gifts. So what can you do?

  • Our favorite is to give ‘themed’ gifts in the form of gift baskets. You can find one main anchor gift (i.e., DVD, video game, book, magazine, etc.) and then include smaller, associated gifts (i.e., popcorn, bookmark, candy, etc.).

(Honestly, just try to Google words like ‘DIY’, ‘Budget Gifts’ and other similar words to get more ideas.

3. Kill two birds with one stone; that is, ask for things you need (not want).

When asking for gifts, think about what could help you in preparing for a trip. Are you planning to buy special equipment, guidebooks, clothing, travel accessories or other items? If so, put them on your holiday wishlist and share with those who ask. Need some ideas…

Finally, most important of all….

4. Remind yourself why you are ‘sacrificing’ this holiday season.

If you remind yourself that you are choosing to save money now so that you can have an amazing adventure in the future, it will be less painful and more rewarding to stay on budget. We have created a vision board which helps remind us why we’re making the changes to our lifestyle now–so that we can make our dreams a reality.

So good luck to everyone this holiday season. You can still enjoy everything while staying on budget. We believe in you!

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