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Winter is coming

The holidays can be as merciless with your bank account as an army of White Walkers, but the season doesn’t have to

Holiday savings

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The holidays are an emotional time. You’re still debating putting in the IRL effort to go buy gifts for your siblings rather than just ship them something through Amazon during the the few hours between holiday party hangovers and working crap hours at a low-paying job to afford said presents and parties—meanwhile, that weird jazzy Scott Weiland Christmas album seems to be following you everywhere. The stress of it is enough to make anyone act impulsively.

So it’s no wonder the average Canadian spends $766 on seasonal shopping. Unfortunately, many of these people probably can’t afford it—about a quarter said they’d be carrying the costs on their credit card.

A New Year’s Day hangover may be unavoidable, but your bank account doesn’t also have to spend the morning after watching romcoms and chugging ginger ale. Here’s how to spend a little more wisely on gifts, travel, and entertaining this holiday season.

Gift Giving

First off, I probably shouldn’t be the one to give you holiday gift advice. I once gave my ex a mix CD as their sole Christmas present. In 2014. It wasn’t even wrapped.

But as the moral of literally every Christmas movie will tell you, the holidays aren’t about materialism, right? They’re about spending time with the people you love, and sharing your wealth with those less fortunate.

Oh, who am I kidding. Chances are, you’re still going to want to try and impress people with cool gifts. There are some obvious steps you can take, like setting a budget (financial planners will tell you stick to 1.5 percent of your income or less) or buying everything super early before things get crazy. But there are a few slightly more unique ways how to do gift-giving with some semblance of style, like DIY-ing some gifts (like making artisanal booze, baking, or repurposing something used as sentimental).

Visiting Family

Yes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. There’s also nothing like holiday airfare, which tends to skyrocket come November. Start hunting for flights as early as you can, and consider alternate routes (starting your trip in an American border city like Buffalo can often shave $100+ off the price). Using your travel points might also be a smart move if your program doesn’t have black out dates during the holidays. If you live a little closer to home, you can still save on gas money by opting for bus, carpool, or rideshare options.

If you are seriously hurting, it may be worth doing a cost-benefit analysis. Yes the trip home may be pricey, but you’ll also save a ton on food, booze, and laundry at Ma’s house. It may be in your own fiscal best interests, especially if you can get someone to sublet your apartment for nine days. Now you’re thinking like an economist.

Entertaining

The holidays are a time to celebrate, and you may find yourself tempted to host your very own, grownup-style dinner or cocktail party. Good for you! Next stop, bedsheets!

Doing your own holiday thing is a great idea. You get to avoid braving the icy misery of a Canadian December, and you can also skip paying for the taxi/Uber home. However, in your quest to adult like a rockstar, you could easily end up blowing a fortune on food, booze, and decorations you’ll toss in the trash by the 9th day of Christmas. Instead, try throwing a BYOB, potluck-style party where everyone contributes. If anyone complains, question their Christmas spirit (and their presence in your contact list).

Celebrating elsewhere? Swipe right on someone who works in tech or finance, then convince them to make you their plus one for their corporate holiday party. Show up, thoroughly ignore them, and eat all the locally-sourced canapes/drink all the craft beer you want.

Don’t be a Scrooge.

While planning your holiday budget, consider putting some of the money you’ll save aside for your favourite charitable causes. I know, it’s a curveball right? I’m telling you to literally give your money away. But odds are, there are millions of people who need it more than you (and hey, any donations you make over $25 are totally tax-deductible).

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