A Cheapskate Christmas

There’s never been a better time to be a cheapskate. Global economic uncertainty gives you the cover you need to save your pennies. And the bursting bubble is a perfect reminder that we bought too much we didn’t need with money we didn’t have for too long.

With that in mind, you can spend like a cheapskate over the holidays without looking like one.

First rule, it doesn’t have to be perfect. So much of the stress of the holidays comes from spending like crazy and setting high expectations. Prioritize.
If what matters to you is the meal, then focus on that. If you have little kids, concentrate on the great gift for the kids. If it’s about being together, then make a special effort to go around the dinner table recounting your best family memory of the year and your best hope for the coming year.

Now set a budget. According to the National Retail Federation, the average consumer will spend more than $750 on gifts, decorations and food for the holidays. Decide the menu for the meal, the presents for under the tree and a handful of other gifts (hostess, teacher, etc.) ahead of time.

The Kids. If you have kids, concentrate on the one or two big gifts that they really want and figure out how to cut back elsewhere to get them. If you can’t afford to pay it off within the next three months, then you can’t afford it. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
I truly believe that kids have too much anyway. They get toys and trinkets all year long, so you might be needlessly putting pressure on yourself for Christmas. Think quality over quantity. Be honest: Their toy boxes are full

Grandma and Grandpa. Don’t give grandma and grandpa a gift card. They want you to save your money and put it into a 529 college savings plan. He doesn’t need a new sweater, and she doesn’t need a new set of bath gels.
Instead, bundle up the kiddies in last year’s sweaters and get ’em in a pile of leaves. Take pictures until you get a few good ones. Print, frame or make a calendar and voilà … the grandparents and godparents are taken care of. (There are dozens of good sites for this online.)