Enjoying the holiday season on a shoestring budget

2022-12-19  3 minute read

Ryan Epp

Lifestyle Debt

The holidays are a great time to get together with family and friends and enjoy some time off. This can also be a stressful season and a potential strain on your finances if you’re on a lean budget and can’t seem to limit your spending. Those who don’t make a holiday spending budget usually end up overwhelmed when the season is over. For them, the holidays are more of a burden than a memorable celebration. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you have little money to spend yet want to enjoy the holiday without pressure and put a smile on the faces of your children and friends, here are some ideas we recommend.

woman making a list at Christmas time

Apply for assistance with local charities / foundations

Communities around the country are more than happy to assist families in need. Your local family charities / foundations have several holiday initiatives to support those who want to celebrate the holidays on a shoestring budget. One of such is the toy drive that allows applicants to receive gift bundles for their children. Another example is the teddy bear toss, a hockey tradition where fans throw teddy bears and stuffed animals on the ice when the home team scores its first goal. The stuffed animals are usually donated to local initiatives for children. In fact, some of the agencies will provide an “adopt a family” program in which families are matched with an adopted family to receive holiday gifts and grocery cards. Food banks are also a facility in which you can visit if your primary need is food.

Families with economic barriers such as recent changes in income or job loss and who find the holidays challenging are the ones eligible for these programs.

Gifts on a budget

If you’re able to buy gifts but on a very tight budget, it is very important to know exactly how much you can spare for these gifts without exceeding your limit. You can do the following things to spend lower on gifts:

  • Pick up in store to avoid delivery fees
  • Look at multiple stores to find the best price and deals or discounts
  • Use sites like Facebook Market or Kijiji for slightly used yet affordable items

Understand that you may not be able to buy a gift for everyone and that’s okay. You can make a list of people who will get gifts while you work on getting simple cards for everyone else. 

Holiday activities

There are many affordable and fun holiday activities you can partake in with your loved ones. Here are a few ideas:

  • Winter hiking
  • Ice skating at your local arena or outdoor facility
  • Board games
  • Local community parades, fairs, and festivals
  • Movie night at home

Part-time employment

The holidays are a busy shopping period for most retail and food outlets. If you are looking to expand your budget to purchase specific gifts or just put food on the table, a part-time job may assist with this. Many food outlets and retail stores look for part-time or casual employees during this busy period. Look through your local employment services website to potentially find a suitable casual position and earn some extra income.

Focus on the meaning

The holidays are a time of good cheer with family and friends. You should focus on spending meaningful time and creating memories with them. It should be less about the gifts one receives or throwing a fancy expensive party that may leave you in debt. Make new memories with your loved ones by having a movie night-in, baking Christmas cookies together, and playing games. You can also volunteer to spend time with people who have no families

Take care of debt to fully enjoy the holidays

If debt is preventing you from enjoying a stress-free holiday break, reach out to MNP and schedule a Free Confidential Consultation today. MNP’s Licensed Insolvency Trustees will assess your situation and discuss of different debt solutions available and are here to help. Call us today.

Consultation icon