Whether you’re temporarily out of cash or you’ve decided to put the brakes on spending, you can enjoy the holidays without draining your wallet.
Here are 4 cool ways to revel in the holiday spirit without spending a dime.
1. Drop the guilt
Don’t have money to spend? Don’t beat yourself up over it, says Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP professional and author of “The Way to Save: A 10-Step Blueprint for Lifetime Security.”
“The trick to enjoying the season is to take the guilt out of it,” she says.
When many people look back on their childhood, they realize they “didn’t have a lot of money and those were great holidays,” she says.
“What people remember is not the Xbox that they got,” Wall says. “What they remember is a holiday season with love and caring and laughter. And none of that takes money.”
2. Decorate with what you already have — or found objects
Use the decorations you have. Get crafty and repurpose things already in the house. Revive fun traditions, like stringing popcorn to hang on the tree, Wall says.
Don’t have a tree? Put lights or decorations on a special tree in your yard. Put those popcorn strands on a separate tree — and watch the birds that come to feast.
And those crafts you do with the kids? “Those are the things they’ll remember and tell their kids about,” she says.
One memory Wall has from her New Mexico childhood: going out into the desert with her mother to find their Christmas tumbleweed. They would collect it, decorate it with chili peppers and put it on a table with gifts around it, she recalls.
3. Enjoy the holiday flavors and experiences you love
Get loved ones involved. Make fudge or bake cookies. Go caroling or enjoy live local music. Walk or drive the community and look at light displays. Re-create a favorite family recipe.
When you look back at holidays you really enjoyed, chances are it’s those experiences — not gifts — that you remember, Wall says. Time and time again, studies show those experiences are what people truly value, she says.
“You can often do that and not spend any money,” Wall says.
4. Give your time
“Sometimes the best way to enjoy the holiday spirit is to give time,” says Lawrence Funderburke, CFP professional, co-founder of FunderMax Fitness and author of “The Triangle Formula of Success.”
He and his family enjoy donating their time through the organizations they support.
Money or not, “you can still volunteer,” Funderburke says. “Enjoy the spirit of giving without giving money.”
Instead of counting what’s in your wallet or bank account, he says, “volunteering your time, your experience, your knowledge is a talent you can give.”