Perhaps family togetherness and holiday spirit are what the holiday's should be all about, but tell that to your kids on Christmas morning when they wake up to find no presents under the tree and empty stockings. Whether we like it or not, the fundamentals for a happy Christmas household are due (in part) to the joy of giving and receiving material gifts. It's easy to say Christmas is all about love and family when you have a full wallet, but trying to pull off this holiday with little to no spending money can be very frustrating and stressful.
Unfortunately, your average blog about getting more spending money for Christmas isn't very helpful if you don't have any to begin with, and extensive preparation and budgeting can only get you so far. That's why we've created a guide with practical ideas that you can use even if you don’t have a big piggy bank to start off your holiday shopping. We don't expect every piece of advice here to work for everyone, but you're sure to find something useful.
How much do you spend on your grocery bills during an average week? Imagine all that money going straight into your Christmas budget. How can you make this happen? Try cooking some meals with only the ingredients you already have in your fridge and pantry, and resist going to the store. Don't worry, you don't have to do this alone: Most recipe websites have a feature that lets you search by main ingredient. You also can use sites like MyFridgeFood to come up with recipes just based on the ingredients you already have in your refrigerator and pantry.
Exchange Your Change for Gift Cards
If you never use cash in your daily life, this one won't work for you, but many Canadians have enough change stuck in their couch cushions to fund a toy army. Forget about rolling all your quarters, dimes and nickels and bringing it to the bank. All you have to do is dump your change into one of many coin machines you'll find at grocery stores around Canada and get a gift card in exchange for no fee.
Take Advantage of Free Samples
Large corporations send out millions of samples of their products to entice consumers into being customers for life. This works out great for you because you can get free stuff without any future obligations. Money Saving Mom has tons of information on where to find sign ups for free samples for all types of goods. You often can find free:
- Children's colouring books
- Holiday e-books
- Wrapping paper
- Beauty products
Free samples make great small gifts for visiting friends and family who don't expect you to spend much. Even if a free sample doesn't make a good gift, you may be able to save money by not paying for things you regularly purchase. This type of Christmas budgeting doesn't cost you a thing!
Set Up a Pot Luck Dinner
If you're hosting Christmas dinner this year, feel free to ask each of your visitors to bring a dish. Preparing a meal all by yourself can cost hundreds of dollars, so asking for help can free up a lot of money for kid's gifts and holiday decorations. Most people are proud to bring a dish they worked hard on for everyone to share and enjoy, so make sure to invite the best cooks in the family.
Trade, Buy and Sell Items Using Social Media
The old adage "One man's trash is another man's treasure" just happens to be true. Some old knick-knack, toy or gadget around your house that never gets used may be the perfect gift for another family, and they may have something that's desired by your kids, siblings or spouse. Social media now provides a medium for making these kinds of exchanges easier than ever. If you can't find the right trade, try selling something that you don't use. Not only will you get some gift spending money, but you'll also lose the guilt you feel looking at that dusty treadmill in the corner.
Reduce Your Debt Payments
Instead of giving credit card company CEOs and stakeholders a great Christmas this year, keep more of your future income for yourself by consolidating and eliminating your debt. With help from a certified credit counsellor, you can get rid of a large amount of debt and have plenty of money left over for the holidays. A counsellor can also help you develop budgeting skills that will allow you to save as much money as you need for future Christmas celebrations.