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I Wish I Knew These Low-cost Christmas Tricks Earlier

I Wish I Knew These Low-cost Christmas Tricks Earlier

Ho, ho, ho—the jolly holiday season is upon us! Christmas is slowly nearing and everyone is getting excited about the biggest holiday of the year. Now, we’ve become a very consumer-oriented culture, one where everyone is expected to spend tons of money on everything from gifts and decorations, to Christmas cards and even specific types of candy, but not everyone can afford to spend lots of their hard-earned money. We all want to enjoy the holidays, prepare cool gifts for our family and bring about some of that Christmas spirit—it’s just that a lot of us need a more cost-effective way of doing these things. Well, being that it is the season of giving and sharing, let me share with you some great tricks for having the perfect Christmas experience on a very tight budget.

1. Have everyone help out with the cleaning and decorating.

Christmas decoration

    The best way to create a fun holiday atmosphere is to get the whole family involved in the preparation. Get the kids and parents involved, and if you’re living the single life and spending Christmas away from home you can have friends over to help you decorate. It is a fun bonding experience and it helps make things easier. Serve some snacks, cookies and drinks for the hard-working helpers and play some fun games when the work is done.

    1. Organize a fun photo session.

    In this day and age you don’t even really need a professional photographer to capture great family moments—everyone has a camera on their phone, and there’s at least one decent digital camera in most households. There are plenty of benefits to having regular family photo sessions about once a year around the holidays, and you can have tons of fun dressing up and snapping creative photos. You can later pick out the best ones, print them out and create some cheap, yet cool-looking decorations. There’s plenty of room for some creative photo editing and DIY frames, which will make the photos really stand out.

    2. Get creative with homemade Christmas cards and envelopes.

    You can get an assortment of different color envelopes and blank cards, or even just get plain white ones and spice them up yourself. You can color them, use markers, glue on small items like Christmas tree branches or colorful fabrics and ribbons, use snowflake cutouts, apply glitter, use buttons or pictures, and so on.

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    Make tree ornaments and decorations from everyday objects.

    pinecones

      When it comes to Christmas decorations, you can make some incredibly interesting things from simple everyday objects. All it takes is a few basic items, some creativity and a bit of work.

      1. Old t-shirt wreath

      Finally, there’s a use for those old shirts, t-shirts and assorted rags—cut them up into strips and you can braid a colorful wreath.

      2. Toilet paper roll crafts

      From calendars to figurines and lovely stars for your Christmas tree, with a bunch of toilet paper rolls and a few other materials you have lying around, you can create a variety of amazing crafts virtually for free.

      3. Unique homemade candle holders

      Some candlelight really helps set the mood during that holiest of nights, and what better way to enhance the atmosphere than with some great candle holders that are cheap and fairly easy to make.

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      4. Pinecone decorations

      You can color them green and set them upside down to create a mini-Christmas tree ornament, use them as window dressing, create wreaths out of them, and much more.

      5. DIY snow globe

      This will require a bit more skill and dedication, but it definitely pays off, as these can be used as either ornaments or cool gifts.

      Cheap and fun Christmas snacks

      Next up, you want to make sure that there are plenty of snacks around Christmas, so that everyone can enjoy themselves and have a nibble every now and then. Here are a few great snacks that won’t cost much to prepare:

      1. Healthy and delicious cereal

      You can combine some corn flakes, oats, dehydrated fruit, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and mix it all up in mason jars to get a very healthy instant breakfast cereal. Add a little bow and a card with the name of each family member and friend and give them out as a surprise when people come over. You can even make this a part of a nice holiday gift basket.

      2. Gingerbread house with all sorts of sweets

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      Gingerbread house

        Making a gingerbread house can be a very fun family activity, as well as a beautiful decoration and, of course, a tasty treat. You can choose from plenty of great templates and create your ultimate gingerbread house. Go wild with the decorations, adding candy canes, M&M’s and all kinds of different sweets.

        3. Personalized homemade chocolate bars

        Get some tasty chocolate, I would recommend dark chocolate, melt it in a pot, and add some additional ingredients like chopped nuts, cherries or raisins. Pour the mix into a mold that you can get for cheap online, and use aluminum foil and decorative paper to wrap up the chocolate. Use a strip of craft paper to write the name of your special chocolate and list the ingredients.

        4. Great DIY gifts

        So, we’ve covered some fun holiday activities, cool decorations and great snacks, some of which can make excellent gifts, but let’s look at a few more unique DIY gift ideas that your friends and family will appreciate:

        5. Knitted or felt smartphone/tablet case

        If you have some knitting skills you can sit down and make several fun and practical cases for smartphones or tablets, which will make excellent gifts for virtually anyone you know. Here are some patterns you can use. You can also make adorable felt covers which you can customize with some felt flowers and similar decorations.

        6. Recipe binder and book of memories combo

        Every family has that mom or granny who know hundreds of delicious recipes and gives the food her own personal touch. Sit them down and have them tell you these coveted family recipes, so you can write them down. You can have one page of your recipe binder feature the recipe, while the page next to it can have a comment or picture that brings everyone back to a special moment—like a picture of a young grandma presenting her first Christmas dinner or your little brother with his face smeared in chocolate from mom’s cake. Make sure to make a lovely cover for the book as well.

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        7. Fun Christmas-themed pillows

        Christmas pillow

          Another one that requires some skill, a set of unique pillows can be made with a very small investment – mostly time and effort. There are plenty of things you can sew in—like snowmen, Christmas trees, reindeer, write out names or messages and so on. Even if you can’t really sew, you can still make some nice decorative pillows using Sharpies and a steady hand.

          8. Stuffed toys

          When you have smaller kids, a stuffed toy is always a safe bet—they also make lovely gifts for your significant other, and the fact that they were made by hand only adds emotional value. You can find a few good ideas online to spark your imagination, but don’t be afraid to experiment—even if it takes a few tries to get right, you’ll work will pay off when you see someone’s face light up as they hold the toy in their hands.

          9. DIY pet toys

          doggy toy

            An excellent choice for people with pets are some creative pet toys and treats for dog owners or a nice scratch post for cat owners. You won’t have to spend much money, but you will still be able to make some durable and clever items that pet owners will really appreciate.

            10. Special Moment Wall Clock

            A simple board and a picture of a very special moment, with a meaningful inscription, and a basic clockwork mechanism is all that you will need for this heartfelt gift. Here is a useful guide on how to print out images on tissue paper that you will use on your decoupage clock.

            With Christmas just around the corner, it’s never too late to start preparing, decorating and crafting gifts for your friends and family. I wish I had known some of these great low-cost tricks much earlier—I could have saved quite a bit of money, while at the same time making much more personal and meaningful gifts and decorations.

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            Ivan Dimitrijevic

            Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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            Published on November 20, 2018

            The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

            The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

            The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

            Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

            In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

            Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

            Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

            If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

            I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

            It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

            For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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            How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

            Stop manually tracking your spending.

            Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

            When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

            Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

            The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

            Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

            Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

            Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

            If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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            Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

            Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

            1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
            2. Only buy nice things after saving
            3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

            These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

            How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

            Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

            So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

            By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

            This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

            For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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            Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

            A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

            Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

            You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

            What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

            Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

            Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

            During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

            Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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            Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

            Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

            By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

            The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

            Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

            Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

            What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

            Reference

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