The holidays can be draining on our finances, but there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy the season while saving your cash. Here’s a guide on how to celebrate while saving.

How to save money during the holidays

Take advantage of free events

Holidays mean free time and free time means you are constantly forking out cash to keep yourself and your family entertained. All those movie tickets, visits to amusement parks and dinners out quickly add up. In a bid to save your pennies, why not check out and take advantage of some of Brisbane’s free events? There’s no need to be a Scrooge this festive season when there is so much to do. Watch the Myer Christmas Parade and Pantomime make its way through the city on Sunday 21 December and then check out the Christmas Fireworks Spectacular at South Bank Parklands straight after, all for free. Get some fresh air in your lungs and take a stroll through Brisbane Botanic Gardens or wander through South Bank Parklands instead of heading into the shops.

We’re adding free events to our event guide every week — there should be plenty there to keep you entertained!

Shop smart at the grocery store

There’s no way to get around it, food is going to be the mostly costly aspect of the holiday season. But, if you know what to look for and you go in with a plan of attack, you can keep that cost down to a level that won’t see you selling off your firstborn child on the black market.

First of all, when combing the aisles it’s important to look up and down. The more expensive items that the supermarkets want us to buy are usually placed at eye level, while cheaper items can be placed above or below. Staples such as milk and butter are often at different ends of the shop compared to other essentials like bread, increasing the chances we’ll fill our trolleys with non-essentials such as soft drinks and chips en route. So make a list and stick to it.

It’s also worth thinking strategically about which days you go shopping. The two days for the cheapest supermarket prices are Mondays and Thursdays, according to retail consultancy The Bailey Group. They found that stores often offer specials on staples such as toilet paper, nappies and laundry powder on Mondays to tempt shoppers into the store. If you can hold out to any weekday evening, you should see cut-price yoghurts, fruit and bread go on sale before closing time. Perishable items are more likely to be discounted towards the end of the shopping day, as supermarkets mark down stock to get it off their shelves. Keep an eye on supermarket catalogues, and buy early and in bulk when you can. This will save you smaller more, costly trips, later on.

Vintage fashion is your friend

Nothing will drain your wallet quicker than having to purchase a new frock for every holiday ‘do. Thanks to the evils of social media, re-wearing outfits in close proximity is a thing of the past. Maybe you’re in love with that new red dress you picked up over the weekend, and you’re thinking you can get away with wearing it to both your office Christmas party and your friend’s holiday drinks. Those people don’t know each other, so it could be ok… right? Wrong. Those pictures will be on Instagram faster than you can say “I’ll just have one drink…”

However, there is a way to ensure you have a new look for each event without breaking the budget. Brisbane is just brimming with second-hand shops where you can pick up some gorgeous vintage pieces for as little as $5. It’s all about knowing where to look! If you’re looking for something a little different, why not shop some affordable yet chic pieces from some of Brisbane’s up-and-coming fashion designers. The newly revamped Valley Markets hold a suitcase rummage every weekend. The markets focus on more on handmade, designer and vintage fashion and are about all things up-and-coming in the fashion world. You’ll look uniquely chic for less.

Sneaky ways to save money while traveling

If you are packing your bags and heading out of Brisvegas for the holiday season, it’s best to go armed with some ways to save cash. If you’re smart with your packing than you can save a little on luggage and excess baggage fees. If you’re traveling with kids and try carrying their clothes in your suitcase. Just use some zippered mesh inserts to separate the clothes. It’s also a good idea to make sure you don’t pay twice for travel insurance, because many credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance. So before taking out insurance, make sure that you don’t already have it for free. You can also embrace the jet lag and look into early dining options to keep your food budget down.

Many fine dining restaurants throughout the world have early bird menus, which offer excellent value. Want more tips? Check out our 10 sneaky ways to save money while traveling.

Make your own holiday decorations

It can be hard not to go overboard on the Christmas decorations shopping each year. Those shiny, bright, ornaments call to you from the shelves and frankly it’s not your fault that you end up going home with enough tinsel to drown a small village when all you went in for was a bottle of milk. It’s a temptation that any of us will fall for. But, as painful as it might be, it’s important to remember that there are no prices as jacked up as those decoration prices in the lead up to Christmas and come boxing day when it’s time to pack them away you’re going to have serious buyers remorse.

This is why you should take advantage of free holiday decoration workshops. On Thursday 11 December at Fairfield Library you can make your own Christmas decorations for free. You can do the same the week after at Roma Street Parkland on Tuesday 16 December. Both these workshops have no charge, so it’s a fun and money-free way to entertain the kids while also saving on the decorations.

Take advantage of free air-conditioning

If there’s one thing more certain than Santa getting a sugar hangover from those biscuits your parents made you leave out, it’s that this summer is going to be scorcher. It’s going to be nearly impossible to make it through the Sahara-like days without keeping the air-conditioners pumping, and that’s definitely going to result in a huge power bill. So you need to give those heavenly boxes of cold air a break, get out of the house and indulge in some free air-conditioning. Shopping centres are always a good place for a bit of cool air, but then you run the risk of spending your hard earned cash, so let’s think outside the box. The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) hosts exhibitions year-round with many at no cost, so you have the option of cooling down with a side of culture. The Children’s Art Centre presents engaging and interactive activities for visitors of all ages, many of which are also free. Many of the permanent and changing exhibits at Queensland Museum are also free, fun and educational.

You can also visit your local library. Beat the heat in the cool, grab some free books and take advantage of the free internet access and free internet and computer training courses that are available for all library members.

Do you have some ideas of how to save money these holidays? Let us know in the comments!