We all look forward to this holiday season for what it represents and how it makes us feel. We get some time off work, spend more time with our loved ones, decorate our homes to set the joyous ambiance and, best of all, we get to eat our favorite holiday dishes. This is truly a special time of year, but with all the excitement and special preparations comes added stress with all the costs associated with it.
Last year, we either celebrated socially distanced or virtually due to the pandemic. This year we get to travel to be with each other, prepare larger meals and gift one another more generously. On the other hand, because we get to celebrate together safely, we are faced with yet another set of challenges. Added costs! Inflation is at an all time high and low supply chains are making it difficult for both businesses and consumers to access goods and services for their daily needs.
To help manage your budget this holiday season, and set aside some extra cash for gifts and holiday festivities, we’ve put together a list of ways you can save and also give back!
1. Commute, walk, or ride a bike!
Gas prices have been skyrocketing with an average of $4.44 per gallon in California. To save on transportation costs, consider commuting by taking the train or bus to work (or school). Or why not invest in something that will encourage physical activity like riding a bike? Nowadays, there are plenty of bikes and scooters around the city that you can rent for a cheap price or get your steps in by walking if your destination is only a few blocks down. Not only are you getting that cardio in and burning some calories––which with all the holiday eating, isn’t a bad thing––you’ll also save on parking prices, and the added stress of finding parking. Especially during a time when it seems everyone is out and about.
2. Go thrift shopping, buy second hand, or repurpose old items!
All the big-name brands just keep raising their holiday prices left and right! Especially ahead of the holiday season! Clothes pretty much recycle themselves every few years and we’re sure you could probably find the same thing for less at a thrift store (there are always unique finds here), or if you buy it secondhand! You’ll be blessing the person who you might not know really needed to make that sale to provide for their family. And if you’re gift-buying for the younger ones, just FYI, toy prices are up 10% ahead of the holiday season. Why not make special DIY gifts instead? They’re so much more personal and carry a lot more meaning. Also, you can repurpose a lot of old clothing or items by changing their look with a few simple adjustments. As long as you own a pair of scissors and some sewing needles, there’s no limit to what you can create (or recreate)!
3. Stick to a grocery list and a budget for holiday meals!
It’s so easy to go to the grocery store in preparation for those holiday feasts and just randomly pick up things that seem like “a good deal.” The two-for-one promotions and coupon items can be so tempting to snatch up, but keep in mind these marketing methods are just a way to make you think you are getting a deal when in reality, you are paying a bit higher due to high demand. Arm yourself with a list that you’re going to stick to! And if you don’t already know, do your groceries on a full stomach, not when you’re hungry! It just makes the mindless grabbing easier.
Set a budget for these meals by preparing recipes in advance with a list of only the necessary ingredients. The same goes for spending on any meal before the holidays. Did you know that the average Angeleno can expect to spend $375 on food per month? If you want to splurge on a bigger Turkey or a juicier ham, then start cutting costs on your everyday spend for meals now. Avoid takeout or dining out for a few weeks and just watch how much you’ll save!
As much as the holidays are a time to spend money on yourself, your family, and closest friends, it’s also the season of giving. And by giving, we mean giving back…to others, to the community, and to those in need. With the ways to save mentioned above, here are some ways you can also give!
Donate old clothes, toys, and other items!
Find a local nonprofit or charity that takes clothing donations so all that spring cleaning doesn’t go to waste! Have some old toys that are still in good condition? Give them away!
Pay it forward or volunteer!
Now is the perfect time to spread some holiday cheer. If you’re in line for food or coffee and feel led to pay for the person’s order behind you, do it! The Christmas spirit is contagious. You could also volunteer at a food bank or with your local nonprofit like the Dream Center and do some good this holiday season.
If you really want to make a difference, you can Make30Matter by making a one time or monthly gift of $30 to help individuals and families in need. We’ve been talking about ways to save but just imagine the cost of living in Los Angeles for those who are less fortunate, who are struggling to make ends meet, or who are facing issues like homelessness or poverty. The holidays can be so expensive and put an even bigger financial burden on those who are already having a hard time getting by. But everyone deserves to have a good holiday. If you’re in a position to bless others, then we encourage you to do it.
At the Dream Center, we truly believe that when you bless others, you are miraculously blessed in return. So we hope this holiday season will be a stress-free, enjoyable time for you and your loved ones and that it will be a season of giving beyond receiving. Because giving in itself is a gift, and putting others before ourselves is what this season is all about.