It’s only October, but before you know it, the Orchard Road Christmas lights are going to be up (and they’d better put on a good show, given the number of vacant units in many of the malls on the shopping belt).
Other than weight gain, the holidays often mean a hole in your wallet. Not only will everyone be scrambling to clear leave by the end of the year and paying inflated air ticket prices to get out of the country, there’s also the cost of the many year-end celebrations and Christmas gifts to contend with.
Even if you have no friends and will not be spending the festive season eating, drinking or making merry, chances are you’ll still end up forking out some cash to get gifts for your colleagues. Here are four tips for minimising the damage.
1. Start shopping for gifts now, or preparing to DIY them
Yes, we know it’s only October, but if you want to save money on your Christmas gifts you’d best start shopping for them now.
Wait until December and not only will there not be any decent sales, you’ll also be so desperate to get your shopping done before dying in a stampede on Orchard Road that you’ll be prone to making poor decisions and not be getting the best value for your money. Right now, you can still afford to shop around for sales or take the time to compare prices.
If you’re going the DIY route, it’s better to start buying your materials and planning right now, because trust me, 2 days before your workplace’s Christmas party you are not going to be up to baking 200 batches of cookies if you haven’t already bought what you need.
2. Book tickets for your year-end holiday now
It happens every year, yet some people never learn. In late November or December, they realise they have a week’s worth of leave to clear, and if they don’t take it this year they’ll lose it. They check the company’s leave calendar and start to panic when they realise all the good slots have been taken by their boss.
By then, air ticket prices will have shot up so much they’ll have to be content with spending Christmas at Batam or the Cameron Highlands. Ticket prices in December tend to be even more expensive due to the fact that it’s the school holidays and every parent is trying to take their kids on an overseas trip to reward them for clocking 10,000 hours of tuition or whatever.
That means the time to book your tickets is now, before prices rise any further. It’s also a good idea to book your block leave before everyone else does, otherwise you’re going to be that poor fool who’s stuck in the office answering everyone else’s phone while they’re on leave.
3. Come up with a holiday budget
Not to be a kill-joy or anything, but we highly, highly recommend coming up with a holiday budget for the various categories of spending in order to make sure you don’t go completely nuts and blow your entire year-end bonus on iPads for your kids or alcohol at some Christmas party.
You’re likely to be spending a lot more than usual during the festive season in categories such as travel, food and drinks, shopping for yourself and gifts for the people in your life.
Decide ahead of time how much you’re willing to spend in these categories. The amount might shock you into deciding that everyone at your office receives Christmas cards this year instead of the stylish gifts you initially planned.
4. Supercharge your savings right now
So you’ve just created a budget and realised that in order to not eat into your savings everyone in your life is going to receive a gift costing a maximum of $2.
Well, the festive season is expensive—not the most pleasant of thoughts, but better to know it now than next year when your credit card bills arrive.
If you’ve realised that you’ll be spending a lot during the holiday season, it’s not too late to start saving now. Supercharge your savings in October and November to compensate for spending more in December.
At least when 2017 comes along, you won’t be desperately searching for a side job as a Tiger beer promoter to assuage for your Christmas remorse.
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