The Broke Person’s Guide to Making the Most of the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank

The Broke Person’s Guide to Making the Most of the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank

Adrienne Breaux
Nov 3, 2015

Are you on a tight budget? Low on dough? Saving up for something? Hate the headache you get when the new year rolls around and you realize how much money you overspent during the holidays? Whatever your financial situation or motivation for not wanting to spend a lot of money this holiday season, here's your guide for keeping the costs — but not the enjoyment — of the holidays low.

1. Get over guilt

If you're prone to feeling guilty about not being able to provide or participate in certain holiday activities, like giving lots of fancy gifts, throwing parties, etc., start now on consciously working on how not to feel guilty about it. Make a mental list of all the ways you'd like to enjoy a more simple holiday season and focus on all the reasons why this will help you stick to financial goals. You can revisit your list whenever you're tempted to splurge. Mention to close friends or family that you're aiming for a minimal holiday season. Avoid comparing yourself to someone else's holiday splurging.

2. Be a great party guest or a savvy host

Throw potlucks or small gatherings for dear friends where you keep the decor minimal and the focus on conversation and connection, not requiring you to spend a lot of money. Or stick to just being a party guest this year. Save dough by taking the same type of dish or handmade gift to hosts to say thanks for the invite so you save money on ingredients or materials. Wear a simple outfit you can change up with affordable accessories to look fresh for every soiree without having to go out and buy a new outfit for every event.

3. Buy tickets early or find affordable ways to travel

Don't wait until the last minute to buy plane tickets to go visit family for the holidays, and consider alternate forms of transportation that might take more time but cost less money. You could also get creative to find someone else heading in your direction that you can carpool with to save on gas money.

4. Offer up your services

One of the priciest parts of the holidays is buying gifts for everyone you want to. First, cull your holiday gift list down to just the essential people you really want to give to this year. Then, consider a way that you can use your skills or talents to create handmade gifts that won't cost as much as something store bought. Or, consider ways you can offer up services for friends and family for things that won't cost you any money but might save them some — offer to babysit for free, or dog or house sit, or even help clean or organize if you're good at those things.

5. Find free activities in your town

Find a list of free holiday activities in your city or town that will fill you with the holiday spirit without you having to spend money for it. Just surrounding yourself by the sights and sounds of the holidays will help make up for any cutting back you're doing in the gift and decor department. You can offer to help decorate with close friends and family to enjoy spending time with them and soaking up holiday vibes.

6. Decorate sparingly and smartly

Avoid the urge to buy up every holiday item you see in the stores (particularly since they start placing products out so early!) and stick instead to using found natural items or handmade DIY decor. More importantly, stick to areas in your home that will make big visual impacts, like the front door, the fireplace mantel or the dining room table. Make or grab decorations with a lot of color, pattern or texture so they stand out more and you get your money or time's worth.

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