By Sylvia Lim, CGA, CFP
A scaled back holiday season doesn’t mean going without, it means going creative to reap more financial rewards. In this budget conscious time, it is actually fashionable to play semi-scrooge so go ahead, save those dollars and have fun doing it!
Here are some tips to get you started on the right track:
- Gift card gifting can work wonders in saving time and not wasting money. Uncle George does not need another Christmas tie that sings Jingle Bells to ring in the holidays. He probably would be happier receiving a gift card of his favourite neighbourhood Tim Horton’s, Second Cup or Blenz. A $25 card will last him at least a few visits and he’ll probably think of you every time he pays with the card. Other practical prepaid gift ideas – gift travel points for the globetrotter in the family, gift contributions to family members’ RRSP/RESP/TFSA accounts, and gift charitable donations for the man/woman who has everything already.
- Purchases made with points. Go ahead and reap the rewards of all those years of point accumulations. Take an inventory of where are and how many points you have and start shopping for some of those to-give items. Start by browsing website catalogues where these points can be used. Don’t forget to check outwww.points.com site for possible points exchange/transfer to finalize those gift purchases with points.
- Ditch the expensive gift wraps, ribbons and bows. Some can cost more than the actual gift! Instead use recycled gift bags saved from years past, brown paper bags tied with inexpensive bunches of raffia, and magazine pages and newspapers’ comics sections for gift wraps.
- Send e-cards. They are free and widely available on the internet. E-greetings.com and hallmark.com are just two of the more popular sites. Sending e-cards not only help you save on Christmas cards and stamps, it can also help save the planet by you taking the green approach to sending holiday greetings.
- Décor down this Christmas.’Tis the season to celebrate and it’s time to deck the hall, tree and tables with Christmas decorations and lights. Make this year the year not to buy more bobbles and garlands. Just use what you have already from years past and encourage your kids to hand made their own tree ornaments.
- Have your holiday feast and enjoy it too. Make it potluck and assign dishes for guests to bring. You can still do the turkey but let others bring the trimmings, appies and desserts. Less work and stress for you so more time to spend with families and friends. That’s what Christmas is all about!
- Holiday dressing smarts.Instead of buying a whole new outfit or gown for that must attend Christmas party, think accessories. Stunning costume jewelry, scarf and glittery hose will add wonders to the little black dress that’s already in your closet. There are even accessories to add sparkle to shoes to make plain looking heels look like a fancy new pair you purchased just for the event.
Using your imagination to save money is always the responsible thing to do. Scaling back does not mean doing without, it means taking on the challenge to be sensible this time of the year. You will be glad you did when the bills arrive in January!