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It’s that time of year again; the season of feel-good commercialism at its best. Corporations pad executive bonuses by covering everything in tinsel, ribbon and red and green garland, and hard-working parents are forced to dip into savings to ensure their kids have the latest version of Grand Theft Auto. OK, maybe that’s a little bit dramatic … but this time of year sure is devastating on the wallet!

Mall madness: The terror of the season

For me, December brings a collection of Holiday parties, two different snowboard trips, some major family birthdays (including that of the significant other) and, of course, Christmas to top it all off. As fun as all that is, that requires a lot of $$$! Make no wonder people burn out in January.

In light of excessive cash outflow over the years, I’ve been able to curtail the damage fairly well of late by implementing some basic saving principles (and a heavy dose of logic):

  • Limit the gifts – You don’t need to buy a gift for every friend. They’re likely just as cash-strapped as you are. Have the “no gifts this year, OK?” conversation – neither of you will regret it.
  • Quality over quantity – You don’t need to buy exorbitant gifts for family and close friends. Sharing ‘stocking stuffers’ with your significant other is a great way to share thoughtful, event-focused gifts that won’t get thrown away or discarded.
  • Know your limits – The old me would say “yes” to everything, regardless of cost or time. The result left me burnt-out and account-depleted at a time when I should be charging back up and enjoying the Holidays. Saying “no” can feel great sometimes.
  • Prepare in advance – You may think it’s a little late for that (being early December and all), but automating your savings in advance is a great way to prepare for the financial crunch. I’ve had a vacation budget going for the past few weeks, and it’s amazing how quickly it adds up.
  • Home sweet home – In my mind, the best and most memorable times are when you spend an evening with close friends and family playing games, sharing stories or stuffing your faces with great food. After all, isn’t that the best part of the Holidays?

There’s no way around it – December’s going to be more expensive than your average month. That said, there are ways to soak in the joy of the season without constantly having one eye on your chequing account.

What are some of the ways you save without sacrificing?