It’s time to start the Holiday music! Well, maybe not quite yet, but it’s still a good time to sketch out your Christmas plans. Most of us will be traveling back home for the holidays to see family and friends. And that means giant winter expenses.
But it doesn't have to. Here are some tips for cutting costs without being a Scrooge.
First, if you’re flying home for the holidays, it’s time to start looking. Normally, you should purchase a flight six weeks ahead to get the lowest price. But—in this case alone—everyone knows that they will be catching a flight after work on Friday, December 21st. There are still ways to snag a flight that doesn’t cost half your paycheck. Search for flights outside the December 17th–January 3rd red zone. Changing the day, time, or airport can make a difference. If you can’t do anything else, booking before the end of August means saving a few hundred bucks.
What about gifts? When you were a kid, Christmas was all about receiving wrapped surprises. Now it’s about giving those surprises to your kids, parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. It’s never too early to hunt for clues in conversations that will lead to thoughtful gifts. Maybe set up a gift exchange with your siblings or pool together to buy Mom and Dad that vacation they deserve. Plus, buying special gifts now means no Christmas Eve Target runs or one-day shipping. It also spreads the expenses over four months and keeps your credit cards safe.
Finally, Christmas vacation brings more to mind than just flights and budgets. The holidays are time spent with loved ones. But a week—or maybe two weeks—really isn’t much. So now is your chance to plan for that quality time. If you have a significant other, chat about how to split up the holidays so both of you can have time with your families. You might even want to throw a New Year’s Eve get together for your friends back home.
We’re still in the heat of summer, but Christmas comes faster every year. We might as well whip out the calendar today, so that—come December 25th—we only have sugar cookies on our plates.
Photograph via vanou on Flickr.