19 tips for NOT going broke this holiday season

Dec 11 2017, 3:14 pm

Ohh, the weather outside is frightful.

So you’re more inclined to spend your time inside a warm, cozy shopping mall instead, opening your wallet every time you see something you know a friend or family member will love.

Yep, holiday shopping can be a vicious cycle when you don’t keep track of what you’re spending. One Calvin Klein gift set here, an Adidas sweater there, four air plants in terrariums for your friends, the latest smartphone for your other half, and a couple of gift vouchers – it all adds up. And before you know it so does your line of credit. Whoopsie.

Seriously though, this is not the situation you want to be in this season. Nobody wants to go broke playing Santa Claus, and you don’t have to either. That’s why we’ve teamed up with BC Hydro to list 19 tips for not going broke this holiday season.

Make some of your gifts


Too many cousins? Pack up some homemade granola, cook up some candied oranges, or… repack some already made cookies (no one will know). These make for great but more affordable gifts when you have a big list of people to buy things for. Plus, you’ll seem extra thoughtful. And everyone loves that!

Skip Boxing Day

There are so many deals to be had, and it’s tempting to treat yourself (a little too much). Try staying away from the mall on December 26. Or if you really have to go, make a list, decide on a budget, and stick to it – make sure you’re not just splurging on the unnecessary just because it’s on sale.

Sign up for BC Hydro alerts

Winter bills are typically higher than during the rest of the year since we use more energy during these months. You’re going to want to monitor your expenses, like you would with your cellphone data plan.

Now you can do the same with your hydro bill. Rather than being surprised by a bigger bill at the end of the month, alerts can let you know when you’re headed towards higher rates, and help keep your usage in check.

Say goodbye to takeout

Make lunches and eat at home more during the holidays to save yourself from spending unnecessarily. Plus with so many Christmas parties and treats flying about offices and classrooms, this will be good on your wallet as well as your bod.

Put away the credit card until January

It’s easy to rack up debt when you’re spending ‘a lil here and a lil there’. Instead, be sensible and put your credit card way until next year. You’ll thank yourself afterwards.

Consider picking up some extra shifts

Statutory holidays are a sure-fire way to bring in some extra cash if you need it. If your boss is asking for volunteers to work a stat holiday – say yes. In BC, employees are entitled to time-and-a-half for the first 12 hours worked and double-time for any work over 12 hours if they work on days like Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Rent out your room


If your tenancy agreement allows it and you’re spending some time away this break, consider renting out your place for some extra cash. Places are often at a premium during holidays, and hotels are notorious for high season rates that many visitors want to avoid. Just make sure you clean your room first!

Go vegetarian if you aren’t already

Time for some beans and potatoes, guys. It’s a cheaper diet, and if you really miss your meat, don’t sweat it; you’ll get some at a holiday dinner at some point this season. Sound good?

Stop buying Christmas decorations


Stop saying ‘I’ll just buy one more thing’ and put on some Christmas music instead. Plus, if you’re dying to take in some lights and mistletoe, go to Glow, Lumiere, or even… The Bay.

Don’t “invest” in an ugly Christmas sweater

This is your chance to actually take that sweater you never wear and just make Christmas explode all over it. Get your glue out, guys and girls!

Wrap all your gifts in newspaper

It’ll be super on trend when you use some twine, too!

Skip the theatres


Exhibit patience and wait for all the amazing Christmas 2017 movies to come out on Netflix or an equally cheap service. In the meantime, hunker down and watch some old throwbacks.

Your pet does not need to get a Christmas gift.

Enough said.

Make your own cards

While there is certainly some stunning, crystal-embedded stationary out there, it’ll cost you a pretty penny. Spend your pennies on the essentials.

Channel your inner Grinch


If all else fails, just bow out of the whole darn thing entirely and save your money. There are loads of reasons to dislike the holidays, and when the rest of the world is broke and holiday-ed out, you’ll be relishing in your cool and collected financial situation.

Swap gift buying for plan making

Instead of spending a fortune on gifts, give the people you love promises. You could start a whole new trend in the process. Think of it as an IOU: one weekend of dog-sitting for them, a cocktail night out in 2018, a hike to one of BC’s biggest mountains together, etc. Since you have it in writing, you’re more likely to do it, and you could even send a calendar invite, too.

Have a communal Christmas dinner

If you don’t get the chance to spend the holidays with your family, round up your friends for a big gathering. Delegate items to each person so nobody has to buy or make more than two things. We’ll do the veggies, thank you very much.

Make mulled wine at home

Mulled wine/Shutterstock

You don’t need to go to a Christmas market to get your annual mulled wine fix. Go DIY and pick up the ingredients on the cheap, make it at home, and invite your friends over. Delish.

Become dollar store friendly

If you don’t already know, the dollar store has pretty much all the gear you’ll need when it comes to holiday homeware essentials. Plus sweet treats. ‘Tis the season to indulge, after all.

At the end of the day, you’re going to want to treat yo’self to something new this season. So making smart decisions in the right areas could help get both you and your wallet out of a really unnecessary hole.

Catriona HughesCatriona Hughes

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