We get it—the holidays are a spendy time of year.
New winter coats, Christmas presents, holiday childminding and catching up with loved ones doesn’t exactly come cheap. We’re all for saving a few bucks—or at least watching our wallets so we know exactly where that hard-earned cash is going.
The good news? Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your family’s bottom line. Here are just a few painless ways you can hack your holiday spending so you can save money for things you really want – like a late winter getaway to a sunny destination.
Make your own eggnog latte
A frothy, warm, hand-crafted coffee is ten times more tempting in the cold winter months, but saying “no” can save you pockets of money. Even cutting back from five latte pit-stops a week to two can save you over $100 a month.
The hack: to truly ditch the habit, your home brew must compete with your local café: convenient and delicious. You’ll need a few travel mugs (just in case you forget one at the office or in the car), good quality beans and some fixings. (No excuses because you’re out of cream.) Last, give yourself an extra five minutes in the morning to fix your brew.
Need that eggnog? Here’s a DIY recipe: click here
Turn down the thermostat at night
I get it—it’s cold. But turning down your thermostat just a smidge before you fall asleep can snag you serious savings.
The hack: tis the season to get cozy, right? Pile on the duvets, snuggle up with your kids/partner/pet or slip into long underwear - you won’t even notice a difference. Keep a pair of fuzzy slippers at your bedside for morning.
Ditto for when you’re not home – turn down the heat before you take off on vacation.
Watch your reoccurring bills
Whether or not you’re here to enjoy them, Canada’s winter months typically come with snowfall, ice and higher utility bills. Christmas lights, snow blowers, space heaters and longer showers all bump consumption.
The hack: BC Hydro has created a unique way for British Columbians to monitor their energy spending. MyHydro Alerts allows customers to sign up to receive a notification when your usage approaches a certain threshold that means higher rates. Knowing how much you’re using can help keep your spending in check and pinpoint where you can save.
To sign up, click here: bchydro.com/myhydro
Catch up over lunch, not dinner
The holiday season is a social one and catching up with friends over a meal is pretty much a national pastime. However, dinner is the most popular - and most expensive - meal to eat out.
The hack: savvy savers escape the crowds (no reservations needed!) and reap the savings when they opt for a mid-day meal instead. It’s the difference of a $10-$15 entrée versus $20-$35. Plus, you won’t likely be sipping cocktails mid-day. (Alcohol can easily outpace food spending in a restaurant setting; see below.) Bonus: there are tons of all-you-can-eat options, so one late lunch may fill you up all day.
Ditch the drinks
Ever looked at your bill and wonder, what happened? My guess: boozy beverages. Unless you’re scoring some steep happy hour deals, cap it at one or avoid the alcohol menu altogether.
The hack: instead of paying a social premium to sip cocktails in a lounge or bar, host a potluck-style, winter-themed craft beer tasting party in your home. Or, meet a friend for coffee or dessert where your bill surely won’t exceed $5-$8.
Rustic, low-cost holiday décor
Outfitting a home for the holidays can be expensive and foreign-made décor can feel cheap and disposable. Instead, look to nature for low-cost, high-impact décor.
The hack: collect fallen fir or cedar boughs (checking first for critters!) and pine cones; stack some firewood indoors. Bake orange slices to make this pretty garland (they look just as great when strung on the Christmas tree) or make gingerbread cookies to hang as ornaments.
Forgo Boxing Day
I love a good sale. But when facing slashed prices under a time-crunch, it’s easy to overspend or buy things you don’t really need (or even want).
The hack: instead, spend (get it?!) this season’s big sales with those you love. Go for a walk in the snow, play some pond hockey, make that eggnog latte together…the options are endless.
PS: This goes for online shopping too…what a great excuse to put down your phone!
The hack: light your wood-burning fireplace for heat. Shower in cold water for the ultimate alarm clock. (Too much?) Unplug your mini-fridge and keep your beers in the backyard. C’mon, we’re Canadian travellers! There are endless ways to use what we have around us to save a few bucks!