As a new homeowner with a mortgage payment, it's normal to want to watch your spending. Here's how to save money during the holidays.
Your first holiday season as a homeowner is a big one. After years of dreaming about having your own home, you’ve finally made that dream come true. Now you’re ready to create new traditions and make holiday memories in your house.
There’s just one problem. Buying a house is a costly endeavor, and it can take a little while to rebuild your savings after paying for your down payment and closing costs, new furniture, and new tools and equipment for all the home maintenance that’s now your responsibility.
All of those expenses can mean that your holiday budget is a little tighter than you’d like. But you don’t have to forego the holidays or important traditions while you get on your feet. With a little creativity, you can have a meaningful holiday season without sacrificing your financial goals.
With that said, here’s how to save money during the holidays as a new homeowner.
Six ways homeowners can save money during the holidays
Try these six ideas to save money during the holidays.
- Take a long-term perspective
- Give homemade gifts
- Skip gifts altogether
- Focus on experiences
- Shop secondhand
- Be honest with friends and family
Take a long-term perspective
Buying a home is a huge accomplishment, and it’s OK to have a simple first holiday in the new home as you regroup financially. Your home can provide a foundation for wealth creation for generations to come, so you want to protect that asset.
By not overspending on gifts, decorations, and events, you’re leaving more money available for home maintenance, emergency repairs, value-building renovations, and an emergency fund to ensure you won’t miss mortgage payments if you suddenly become ill or are laid off.
Leaving money in your bank account for future home expenses is less immediately gratifying than buying neat gifts or splashing out on gourmet items for your holiday dinner. But you’ll be doing yourself a service long-term.
Give homemade gifts
How often do you find yourself stumped for what to buy loved ones because they already have everything? Rather than stress over finding the perfect gift online or at the store, try making something instead.
A batch of Christmas cookies, your famous banana bread, a rustic ornament made with materials from your property — these are heartfelt items that your friends and family will enjoy while thinking of you.
You might also purchase unique secondhand frames and print out special photos of you and your loved ones to give as gifts. That’s an inexpensive and thoughtful gift they can keep up in their homes year-round.
Skip gifts altogether
This might be controversial if you come from a big gift-giving family. But if you’re feeling pressure to spend more than you can afford, consider opting out this year.
Explain to your loved ones that while you enjoy exchanging gifts, it’s simply not in your budget this year and you’ll revisit the tradition next year, when you’re more settled in your home. Being stressed about money makes it hard to be present and enjoy the holidays, so skipping the gifts will allow you to make the most of your visit.
Focus on experiences
There are many ways to enjoy the holidays without spending money — or at least spending very little. Consider what new, budget-friendly traditions you might start in your new home, such as hosting a cookie swap with friends, inviting family members to cook your holiday meal together in your new kitchen, or taking an evening walk together to check out the decorations in your neighborhood.
"The first holidays in your new home can be very exciting, and most will want to host a dinner for family," says Joe Pessolano, a branch sales manager with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation (Fairway owns Home.com) in Garner, N.C. "Instead of shouldering the entire cost of dinner, suggest that everyone brings a covered dish for sides and desserts, and you, as the host, can provide the main course."
These are simple, cost-effective ways to make memories with people you care about and feel more deeply rooted in your home.
Thrift shops and consignment stores can be great places to find inexpensive Christmas decorations, holiday attire, and even gifts. You might be surprised to find designer clothes on secondhand racks, not to mention unique holiday items that will make your home feel festive. Best of all, they’ll likely cost a fraction of what they would if you bought them new at retail stores, especially as prices creep up this year due to inflation.
Be honest with friends and family
Talking about money can make for some uncomfortable conversations. Many people feel shame when admitting that money is tight or that they can’t afford to participate in holiday events, gift exchanges, or costly travel. But honesty really is the best policy in these circumstances — for you and them.
Spending more than you can afford to placate friends or family can lead to resentment, and no one wants to see a relationship become strained over money. Additionally, you may not be the only one needs a break from the lavish traditions this year. In fact, a Deloitte survey found nearly 12% of Americas aren't buying any gifts this year.
Once you voice your limits, others may feel more comfortable doing the same, and you can come up with ways for everyone to be together without feeling financially pinched.
How to save money during the holidays FAQs
Set a budget for holiday spending, and don’t exceed it. That may mean cutting back on the number of gifts you give or holiday events you attend. Prioritize the traditions that matter most to you, and be honest with friends and family members that you’re going to celebrate on a smaller scale this year.
Start by assessing your holiday traditions and your gift list. Consider giving fewer, and smaller, gifts this year. Ask loved ones if they’re up for starting new, non-gift traditions such as taking a Christmas morning walk in the woods together or cooking a holiday meal together in lieu of presents. You might also consider buying decorations and even gifts at thrift stores and consignment shops, rather than buying items brand new at higher prices.
Consider how much you can afford to spend on Christmas expenses, such as gifts, meals, travel, concerts, and other holiday entertainment. Make sure you’re not taking money away from essential expenses, including your mortgage, credit card bills, groceries, and daily needs.
Once you’ve figured out how much you can put toward Christmas in total, divide that number up based on your different priorities, such as gifts for family or plane tickets to visit loved ones.
It can help to rank expenses in terms of importance so you can allot more money to costlier traditions or eliminate some items altogether in favor of bigger priorities.
Holidays often become stressful because of the pressure to spend. By shifting your attention away from spending toward the long-term value you’ll get from your home, you can reorient your holiday traditions around togetherness and shared experiences. Most importantly, you’ll start the new year feeling more comfortable in your new home and more confident in your ability to maintain it for many years to come.