The holiday season is ramping up alongside the cost of everything else rising. How can you keep your holidays happy without feeling the pinch?
Budgeting for gifts isn’t easy, and when you need to keep costs down especially during a cost of living crisis, the task is even more fraught with frustration.
This writer has built his own budgeting app to help explain costs better, and even he can struggle with buying gifts that won’t break the budget.
When everything costs more and you need to account for higher prices, how do you save money on gifts?
Fortunately, there may be some tactics you can try to ease up on what you spend and still have a happy holiday season.
Shop around for sales
The obvious thing to do is to look for sales, the step that everyone already knows and is thinking about.
Thinking ahead of time is your best bet, and that’s where the Black Friday sales may come in handy, but if you miss out on these time locked bargains, consider sales around the year in general.
You don’t just need to wait for the month before when you’re giving the present, and may want to consider buying when there is a sale, giving you some level of discount.
Alternatively, you may want to buy during the end of year sales Australian shops are known for from Boxing Day onwards. Granted, the gift may miss December 25, but it may also come with a killer “IOU” note to suggest they’ll be getting something great not long after.
Cash in points
Depending on how much you’ve been using a credit card or even if you’ve stored a decent amount of frequent flyer points, consider cashing them in for gifts.
Accruing points is typically as easy as spending money or taking flights, and if you’ve done this for some time, you probably have some.
Often, these points can be used for cyclical purchases, such as how frequent flyer points are often used to buy more flights, but they don’t have to be used for that. In fact, the stores from points providers may have goods on sale that you can use points for.
In some examples, such as with the Qantas Marketplace, you may find toys, electronics, and other goods on sale for points purchases, allowing you to save some cash in the process. This year, that’s one of the things this journalist has done, spending some of his accrued points on gifts for the family, and shaving the cost down considerably.
Give the gift of subscription games
Video games can be a great gift, but a new console can sure be expensive. The latest revamp of the PlayStation 5 is over $600 and the current-gen Xbox isn’t far behind.
But you don’t necessarily need a new console to play new console games, thanks in part to game subscriptions. Rather, you just might need a controller.
Access to a gaming service can give the gift of games without the need to spend big on a console, and vary by platform.
For instance, Apple Arcade offers hundreds of games for a monthly fee, and works on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. Meanwhile, Android owners have access to its own subscription service offering a similar approach, albeit only for Android-based devices (no PC support).
A Netflix account also offers access to games for iOS and Android, too, meaning the gift of a Netflix card could just get someone some games until the dollar value on the card runs out.
And in premium gaming, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Cloud Gaming, a service that allows an owner of a tablet, computer, or any phone — iPhone or Android — to spin up an Xbox in the cloud and play plenty of games, some of which are only available on the next-gen Xbox consoles.
If you’re gaming on the go, you may want to bring a controller that turns your phone into a game controller, such as the Backbone One, but any recent wireless controller should do.
Check out budget gift guides
If spending is leading you down a path of big items, and you’d prefer to keep costs low this year, another option to consider is the budget gift guide.
Plenty of publications (including ours) will publish budget gift guides, such as this one from 2018 and this one from 2021, and this more recent entry from another Australian technology website, Reviews.
Buying technology for a lower price is often difficult, and you typically need to set yourself a budget of at least $100, but if you look around, you can find some deals.