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As the holidays approach even the most carefully orchestrated budget can fall to pieces. Here are 4 ways you can keep your holiday spending under control without feeling like a Grinch.

    1. Pare your present list
      You don’t need to buy a gift for everyone. Sit down with friends and family and have a frank discussion about gifts. You could employ several methods to reduce the number of presents you need to buy such as:

      • Agree not to exchange presents with certain friends or family members
      • Allot a certain amount of money for each gift, and have family and friends agree with the budget. This will limit spending but also avoid any embarrassment should one person spend significantly more.
      • Implement a “children only” gift rule.
      • Buy a group gift, such as a weekend away or a large item like a new television for the family instead of purchasing individual gifts
      • Do a Secret Santa instead of buying each person a gift.
      • Focus on home-made gifts, such as cookies or other baking, to reduce costs.


    1. Set a budget for holiday meals
      Food can be one of the biggest holiday expenses. Between the turkey, ham, trimmings, sweets, and holiday potluck events your grocery bill can add up. There are several ways to address this:

      • If you are having a large gathering with extended family and friends, consider making it a potluck to spread the food costs evenly between all the people participating.
      • You should also search for deals on items like turkeys and hams, and purchase these items early before the price increases.
      • Set a food budget and stick to it.
      • Consider baking dessert instead of buying it.
      • Try and do all your shopping in one go, so you aren’t running back to the store. Each trip to the store is another opportunity to overspend.
      • Try and do all your shopping at one store. Many stores offer discounts this time of year, but you often have to spend a minimum amount in one transaction to qualify.
      • Serve a realistic amount of food so that you avoid throwing food and money away.
      • Spread out the cost evenly. Instead of offering to host on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, speak to friends and family about everyone hosting equally to cut down on costs.


    1. Reduce spending on sweets and alcohol
      The holiday’s sometimes seem like an unending feast, which is bad for both your wallet and your waistline. Keep both in check:

      • Ask hosts and hostesses if you can bring a salad, or some homemade cookies, instead of a pricey box of chocolates or bottle of wine as a hostess gift.
      • Reduce the alcohol budget, and offer guests non-alcoholic alternatives like homemade punch. Alternatively, institute a BYOB policy for large gatherings.


  1. Trim spending at the office
    Holiday spending at the office can be something we don’t always account for in our budget. Luckily there are several strategies to keep you on track.

    • Many offices already organize Secret Santas with spending limits, but even a $20 gift can sometimes be hard to squeeze into a tight budget. Suggest a fun alternative, such as the best gift under $5 or where everyone purchases their Secret Santa the ugliest dollar store coffee mug they can find. This keeps the event fun and interesting, and makes it easy to fit in a tight budget.
    • Many companies are paring, or eliminating, holiday parties in an effort to reduce costs and show empathy for the unemployed. If your office is still having a party suggest a potluck, or going for lunch instead of dinner.
    • If your office does host a potluck, plan your dish ahead. That way you aren’t scrambling through the grocery store at the last minute and blowing your budget on a cheese and charcuterie tray that you could have prepared yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Tim Lacroix of Calgary Direct Mortgage has been helping Calgarians achieve their financial dreams for years. For more budget tips or to find out how he can help you call today at 403.648.1541 and visit