Saving money during Christmas and the holiday season

30 Dec

Firstly an apology, it has been over a month since my last post!  

However as many would agree the Christmas holiday season is extremely busy and mix this in with setting up this blog, looking to start a side hustle, spending time with the family and of course trying to fit in a day job. In any case, apologies, I will try and make these posts a weekly event from now on. 

Being the Christmas holiday period, I thought I would explain how Mrs 3000 and I save money over this otherwise expensive period. This year we have implemented some very effective saving initiatives that I know you will get value from and hopefully you can put this in practice for next year.  

Cost saving 1: Initiate operation Secret Santa – Secret Santa is a fun way to buy presents and also a great way to save heaps of cash at this expensive time of year. For those that don't know, the process is the family draw random names to become someone’s Secret Santa. You buy a present for that one person and in turn you receive one present from another member of the family. It is also fun to guess who gave you the gift.  

This is best done with as much advanced notice as possible. We sat down with our families over 6 months ago to discuss this strategy. We agreed that we all no longer needed the masses of presents each year, nor the expense and waste that goes along with it. We decided to do Secret Santa for the adults only. The kids still received their usual presents (perhaps slightly toned down), because after all Christmas is all about the kids anyway. 

Cost saving 2: Set dollar limits – In addition to Secret Santa, we also set a dollar limit of $50 per adult and $50 per child. In regards to the adults, this was a great incentive to search for value and bargains. I personally hate shopping, so it is all online for me. With a bit of searching, you can easily price compare and find the best sales/discounts. For the kids, $50 gets a lot of toys these days, but chat with the parents before hand and get some tips on what the child would like and what they are interested in. 

Cost saving 3: Share the cost/workload – We have done this for quite some time, but Mrs 3000 and I have hosted Christmas in the past and geez doesn't the cost add up quick - meats, salads, seafood, vegetables, deserts, beer, wine and nibbles. We are talking $400+ dollars here and we only have an immediate family of 12 or so. Not to mention the time and work it takes to pull off such an event. So we generally split it up roughly as follows:

Couple 1: Seafood

Couple 2: Meat & Chicken

Couple 3: Salads & Vegetables

Couple 4: Desert & Nibbles

Couple 5: Beer & Wine

This spreads the cost fairly evenly and we rotate each year.

Cost saving 4: Master the Staycation – Christmas is a great time for a staycation. You can avoid traffic jams, overpriced accommodation, masses of people and overpriced fuel just by staying at home. However the trick is to master the staycation as it is easy to get caught up with housework, renovations, TV time and beer time. The Christmas holidays should be about family, fun and relaxation. We have found with a bit of planning, this is easily done from home.

  • Plan - We write a list of all the things we would like to do as a family and assign at least one activity to each day and mark this on the calendar. This gives us some direction and a plan for each day.
  • Act like a tourist - How many touristy things have you done in your own town? If you are like me then it is not many. So go to some nice beaches, go on bush walks, go to fun parks, go to the circus, go to the zoo, go to the museum and act like a tourist in your own backyard. My trick is to google "top 10 things to do" and go from there.

There is a lot of stress involved in packing, driving, negotiating crowds, driving home and unpacking. A staycation can be really nice if you use the time wisely. 

Finally, the cost comparison: 2017 vs 2016 -  This Christmas was extremely cheap for us compared to last year. Just by implementing the above steps we saved $1000's. Here is the cost comparison:

Christmas 2017:

Secret Santa: $100.00 (2 adults)

Presents for us: $150.00 (Mrs 3000 and I spent $75 each)

Kids Presents: $250.00 ($50 x 2 + $150 on our boy) 

Christmas lunch: $80.00

Staycation activities: $100.00

Total Spend: $680.00

Christmas 2016:

Presents for adults: $700.00 (7 adults)

Presents for us: $350.00 (Mrs 3000 $200 and $150 on me...I always spoilt her)

Kids Presents: $250.00 ($50 x 2 + $150 on our boy) 

Christmas lunch: $80.00

Holiday - Big 4 holiday park camping 10 nights: $1300.00

Total Spend: $2,680.00

Yes, that is a $2,000.00 saving. (I didn't even include the $900 loss we took on the camping gear we purchased then quickly sold as it turns out Mrs 3000 doesn't love shared bathroom facilities....but each to their own)

Also, so far Christmas 2017 has been a less stressful, more enjoyable holiday experience all round.

Hopefully you can also implement some of the steps to ensure Christmas is an enjoyable, fun and family orientated experience without the stress and financial hangover!! 

Here is some recommended reading:

The Barefoot Investor:

A great read, very insightful and some great tips that we will be putting into action soon.

Cheers, Mr 3000

P.S. As we officially launching our journey on 1 Jan 2018, look out for a post in the coming days.

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