How to do holidays on a dime

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You’ve heard it before and you’re sure to hear it again—the holidays are going to look a little different this year. For starters, your social calendar probably doesn’t include any glamorous office holiday parties or raucous New Year’s Eve celebrations. Your travel plans might be a lot more local, and most of all, your budget for the festive season may be a lot different after a trying year like this one. The good news is, it’s possible to still experience all the joy of giving during the holiday season without breaking the bank.

Here are a few tips for how to do the holidays on a dime.

Plan ahead

The first step to budget for anything is to have a solid financial plan in place. This might mean you have some frank and empathetic conversations ahead of the holidays with your family and friends. Consider setting an agreed-upon budget limit or opting for a gift exchange like a Secret Santa for the sake of your collective wallets.

Think about celebration logistics, too. It’s likely virtual gatherings will be the safest option for your extended social circle and a smaller guest list will also help ease the financial strain of the holiday season.

Shop within your means

Small, local businesses have faced a lot of challenges this year. And while it’s true that every dollar you spend locally helps your community directly, there are some times when it just might not fit into your budget—and that’s ok, too.

Shopping local doesn’t mean you have to break the bank—things like a gift card to a local neighbourhood café can be a cost effective way to put a smile on the face of both the recipient as well as the business owner. At the same time, if staying within your budget means you need to rely on larger retailers too, try not to feel badly about that. Staying true to your own financial reality is really the name of the game.

Don’t think of second-hand as second-best

The rise of thrifting has been a major trend in 2020. Browse your neighbourhood thrift store, online marketplace, and social media pages to source the perfect pre-loved gifts. You might just stumble on something truly unique and perfect for somebody on your list.

Think outside of the box

Some of the best gifts aren’t always material. Can you offer to shovel a neighbour’s driveway? Make and drop off a few frozen meals to your friend who’s a new parent? Provide donations on behalf of your friends and family to the charity of their choice? There are lots of ways to think outside of the box and give the gift of time, support, or service in lieu of more stuff. The best part is, you can easily personalize this gift idea according to your budget and others’ needs.

Preparing for the holiday season, especially under these circumstances, doesn’t have to be stressful. Your local credit union is here to help.