Save Money for Yule - How to Have a Budget-Friendly Yule

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Have a Budget-Friendly Yule

Make a budget, shop early, and don't spend money on things you don't need. Image by Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

Wondering how you're going to make it through Yule when you're working on a tight budget or fixed income? Here are some of our top tips on how to make Yule a budget-friendly part of your year.

1. Make a Budget

First, figure out how much you're going to spend on gifts for others, and for your family. If cash is tight, think about making gifts instead of buying them. Also, pare down the gift list -- is there someone you constantly buy a gift for that you really don't want or need to? Ask them if it's okay to skip the exchange this year. They'll probably be as relieved as you are.

Want to make some simple crafts to share with others? Try these ideas:

2. Skip the Greeting Cards...

Really, what happens to greeting cards after the holiday? They get tossed in the recycle bin. Save postage by sending e-cards, or if you really like to send cards, stop buying the expensive ones and just make your own -- it's a lot of fun, and it adds a personal touch.

For some ideas on making your own Yule cards, read Yule Greeting Cards

3. ... And the Fancy Wrapping Paper Too!

A roll of good-quality wrapping paper can set you back anywhere from $7 - $15, and then it just gets thrown away after the present is opened. Either buy a roll of white butcher's paper and make your own gift wrap with stamps and paint, or use alternative packaging: squares of cloth, pretty baskets or recyclable bags are great. My personal favorite? Leftover maps from old copies of National Geographic!

4. Go a Little Greener

Cut heating costs by lowering the thermostat when you have a house full of people, by limiting the amount of hours your lights are on, and by switching to LED holiday light strands, which use 90% less energy than regular lights. Also, when you're doing your shopping, hit the thrift stores to buy gently-used goodies -- it's better for the environment and it will save you a bunch of money.

5. Pay Now, Not Later

The biggest financial rut people get into during the holidays is trying to pay off their credit card bills in January… and February… and March. Avoid paying high interest rates on things you've financed, by paying upfront for everything you buy -- remember, if you've made a Yule budget, this is totally do-able! If you really can't avoid financing something, like the new game system your kids want, make sure you can pay it off within the first thirty days so it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

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Shop Early, And Not For Yourself

Skip the big fancy dinner parties, and have a small potluck with a group of friends. Image by Hero Images/Getty Images

6. Shop Early, Not Later

The longer you wait to do your gift-buying, the more money you're likely to spend. Shop before "Black Friday" rolls around if you can. That allows you to spread your Yule shopping budget out over several weeks, rather than just a few days. Better yet, shop online from your favorite retailers - most will waive shipping if you spend more than $25 -- and that way you'll be less likely to grab those "impulse buy" items at the cash wrap.

Looking for something good to show your lovin' for the coven? Check out these ideas for everyone on your Yule shopping list:

7. Leave Yourself Off the Gift List

It's really tempting when we're out shopping for others to treat ourselves to something special. Hit five or six stores, and the next thing you know, you've got a bunch of cute new shoes for yourself, but you still haven't gotten anything for Grandma or Uncle Bob. Fight the temptation - you'll be glad you did later on. If you really need to reward yourself, promise yourself a day at a spa after the holidays, or plan a post-Yule lunch date with friends, when everyone needs to relax.

If you really want to do something nice and self-rewarding, meditate alone to de-stress, or try a Yule Cleansing Ritual.

8. Don't Spend a Fortune on Decorations

Sure, you really would love that giant inflatable Santa with eight light-up accompanying reindeer, but can you afford it? Use things you already have, and other found items, to decorate. Focus on the nature aspect of the season -- use logs, trees, pinecones, and lots of candles to make your home look pretty at Yule.

Make your own ornaments and decorations:

9. Forget the Expensive Party

Some people spend more time and money on their annual holiday party than they do on anything else all year long. Skip it. It's not worth the money or the expense. If you want to have a get-together, go ahead -- but keep it casual and friendly. Ask each guest to bring a dish and go potluck style. Don't feel like you need to give each guest a gift, either; you're spending time with each other, and that's a good present right there. Make sure you they know they're not required to bring you a "hostess gift" either.

Need quick recipes because company's dropping by at Yule? Try these:

10. Donate Time Instead of Cash

It's easy to get caught up in the charity of the Yule season. You can't go anywhere without seeing someone ringing a bell for a social service organization of some sort. If you're someone who normally puts out a lot of cash for these groups, this year consider donating a couple of hours of your day to help out at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Your time is just as valuable as your money. If you're really swamped and can't commit to an entire day, try small random acts of kindness throughout the season.