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Filipinos hold the holiday season close to their hearts. As soon as the -ber months arrive, everyone starts to be in a more loving and joyful mood as we plan our annual gathering with families and friends.
Admit it: we often get excited over office monito-monita and listing down gifts for our inaanak – usually using the holiday season as our excuse to finally buy that item we’ve been eyeing for months.
It’s easy to get caught in the holiday spirit (after all, it’s a different kind of thrill to host big parties and wrap gifts) that you don’t often realize that you’re already spending way past your means. But with our current state of living, we know that this short-lived holiday happiness is not practical, nor worthwhile enough for us to get stressed over our bills.
We asked Rappler readers for some money-saving practices that we could adopt to avoid spending too much this holiday season. Here’s what they had to say:
Create a holiday budget (and stick to it!)
With all the upcoming sales and parties for the holiday season, it’s easy to say yes to everything. Instead, set a budget specifically for this season and pattern your holiday habits accordingly.
List down your anticipated spendings for gifts, travel, events, food, and other holiday-related expenses. Make sure to also allot a little extra for some unplanned or emergency purchases so they don’t ruin your budget.
By setting up these parameters, it would be easier for you to make smart choices when purchasing products. Make a list of the people you want to buy gifts for and plan on how you can spend on each one. A well-thought out list is a big help to prevent impulse buying.
Find ways to stick to your budget. Take advantage of the holiday sales and research on which shops will give you the best deals – will it be cheaper and practical for you to buy presents in bulk or those packaged together? Don’t be tempted by every shiny and beautiful item that you see while shopping.
Set boundaries around gift giving
While it might be the season of giving, understand that not every person you’ve ever met should be included in your gift list. If you have a large family or many friends, buying gifts can force you to spend more than you can afford.
Rather than exchanging multiple gifts with everyone, how about organizing a system where everyone can still exchange gifts in a comfortable way? Ask your family and friends to do Secret Santa instead so you’d only have to buy a present for the person you picked, instead of everyone. Or, chip in for one huge gift for a whole family or circle of friends. Impose a moderate spending limit to make sure that it won’t financially burden those involved.
There’s also always the option to forgo gifting entirely and focus on a memorable holiday experience instead. Who knows, a clear conversation about choosing not to exchange gifts this year could just be what your family and friends need.
Don’t hesitate to say no to random gift exchanges, too. For example, your immediate team at work might want to exchange gifts with each other, but then your department is also requiring you to buy presents, too, apart from the whole-wide company exchange gift thing. That’s a lot of gifts that might not even be part of your budget! Try to reach out to your boss and tell them how these might strain you financially, and opt out of them instead. The holiday season is already expensive enough without these social pressures.
Reduce, reuse, regift
We know that gifts are the biggest component in our holiday expenses, but that doesn’t always have to be the case.
It’s time to do away with the idea that regifting is a bad thing. Take a look at your unused (but still in good condition!) items that are just collecting dust and see if there’s someone on your gift list who’ll find it useful and more meaningful. Aside from saving money, this also prevents items from going unused. Win-win, right?
Not all gifts have to be brand-new and purchased from the store. Sometimes, thoughtful gifts outshine the expensive ones. So if you practice a craft like baking, knitting, or drawing, then you can come up with a creative and customized present for your loved one. The best part is, you have more control over how much money you’ll spend to make them, making it easier for you to stick to your holiday budget.
Or if you’re eyeing a more expensive present, why not partner up with someone else in buying it? Ask your siblings to chip in and buy a huge gift for your parents, or tell your teammates to share the cost for a present for your boss.
Do note that gifts don’t always need to be physical items. Cliché as it is, you can also give someone the gift of your time. Promise your aunt that you’d baby-sit your cousin if they need some time out, or volunteer to do some errands for your elderly relatives.
Upcycle holiday decor
You don’t have to spend half of your 13th month pay on ornaments and holiday-themed wrapping paper. Get creative – try wrapping presents in used papers, or turn mason jars into outdoor decor!
Or if you’re planning to purchase a new Christmas tree, make sure that it’d be of good quality so you can use them on the succeeding holidays.
Rethink holiday traditions
If you’re used to extravagant holiday practice, maybe it’s high time to start toning things down. Is it really necessary to print holiday cards and send them out to everyone you’ve ever met? Do you really need 10 kinds of holiday cakes?
Instead of hosting a huge party and being the sole person responsible for the holiday meals, why not do a potluck instead and ask guests to bring their favorite dishes? Not only does this save money, time, and energy on your end, but consider this as an opportunity to as a way to bond over sharing recipes.
Try carpooling, too, if there’s a lot of you going to the same parties. You not only cut expenses on gas, but it also gives more time for you guys to bond together.
Reevaluate traditions and assess if these practices still mean a lot to you. If not, cut them out and stick to the ones that give you joy, instead. After all, you don’t always have to make large purchases or have grand events to feel the essence of the holiday.
Stay home for the holidays
Now that restrictions have eased, we anticipate that a lot of families and friends are itching to spend holidays elsewhere. But if you don’t have the time off or extra budget for it, remember that there’s nothing wrong with staying at home, too.
Virtual parties are not only budget-friendly, but it also removes the hassle of high-season travel, especially that holiday season can get extra busy! – Rappler.com