The Filipino Family’s Guide to Financially Surviving the Christmas Season

We Filipinos love our holidays, and there’s no merrier time of the year than Christmas. By this time, you’ve probably already planned your holiday breaks with the family, the gifts you’ll be buying for pamangkins, and where to get that sweet puto bumbong and bibingka. But then again, there’s one thing that might prevent all your Christmas plans from coming to fruition: your budget.

Still, you don’t have to skip on the Christmas cheer just to keep the household running. With some strategizing, you can ensure that your budget covers all your family’s holiday gastos: be it on expenses for the school Christmas party, your office exchange gift, or this year’s noche buena. In this article, we’ll flesh out the ways to make the holiday season enjoyable yet still financially bearable—for you and the whole family.

Get Creative with Securing Extra Funds

Let’s face it, everyone is bound to spend during the latter “-ber” months. Christmas is the much-awaited event of the year, but being on a budget might hinder you from experiencing it to the fullest. Fortunately, there are many ways for you to get a financial helping hand at this time of indulgence. If you need more leeway to cover all your bases, consider the following sources of funding that often don’t put a dent in your life savings:

Cash Loan

Need more funds to get mom that new set of dinnerware she always wanted? A quick cash loan just might do the trick. Essentially, a cash loan with a reliable lender can get you the funds that you need without giving you the burden of strict payment terms and high interest rates. You can count on a trusted loan app like Cashalo to give you the financial freedom you need—be it for holiday shopping, your family’s out-of-town trip, or any other well-deserved reward.

Credit Card

Credit cards are great if you need an always-ready credit line for your expenses. Most stores in the mall accept credit card payments, so you may find them handy while doing your Christmas shopping. Moreover, you can accumulate points that translate to rewards such as discounts and cashbacks, which may lighten up the load when making purchases. That said, it may be ideal to use your card in moderation to avoid racking up large amounts of debt and high interest rates for every missed payment. 

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

BNPL is another popular payment method that offers flexibility for consumers, especially last-minute Christmas shoppers. BNPL allows you to pay in installments with partner stores, which may be useful for big-ticket expenses. From washing machines to groceries, BNPL can help you make your purchases if you don’t have large amounts of cash on hand.

E-Commerce Loans

E-commerce platforms have undoubtedly changed the game when it comes to Christmas shopping thanks to the high level of convenience that they bring. If you want to take advantage of the next mega sale but have more pressing financial needs to cover, you can opt for a loan designed specifically for e-commerce. For example, Cashalo has a Lazada loan that allows you to disburse your loan directly to your Lazada wallet. You can use this loan to shop for your gifts online and maximize the seasonal discounts and vouchers.

To save on shipping fees, you may want to consider buying different gifts from a single shop or seller. Some shops offer discounts or free shipping when you buy more items, so make sure to take advantage of these options that may save you money.

Set Budget Limits

Establishing a budget for the season enables you to set your limits and avoid going overboard in your holiday shopping. Filipino Christmases often entail large get-togethers with all the people in your life, so it’s understandable that you may feel the need to shop for pricey items to impress your relatives and friends. However, Christmas should be about enjoying each other’s company—not going out of your way to give everyone gifts that are beyond your means.

On that note, you may want to create a gift list for everyone in advance to help you establish price limits for everyone. Aside from helping you manage your money and prevent overspending, having a gift list will make shopping faster since you already know the items to pick out. It would be ideal to shop for gifts weeks in advance to avoid the holiday rush and ensure that the items are still in stock. 

All in all, creating a “holiday season” budget allows you to get gift-giving out of the way this Christmas—and leave some for the New Year.

Use Your Arts and Crafts Skills

We talk about buying gifts a lot every Christmas, especially with holiday sales popping up in every mall and online store this time of the year. But aside from shopping around for wishlist items, you can take your gift-giving to the next level by making the gifts yourself. You can find tons of ideas online for customized gifts that may suit the personality of the recipient. Most likely, the person will appreciate and remember your gift if you took the time to personalize it.

Some gift ideas you may want to explore include:

  • Scented candles, bath bombs, and soaps
  • Bookmarks
  • Customized mugs, plates, and coasters
  • Knitted sweaters and throw blankets
  • Pastries and home-cooked meals

You can also go the artsy and sustainable route when it comes to your wrapping. If possible, consider using twine, newspaper, cartolina, manila paper, crayons, or other craft items at the bookstore that can serve as alternatives to store-bought gift wrappers. 

When preparing your homemade gifts, consider letting the kids contribute even in the smallest ways. For example, if they’re too young to handle cooking and handicrafts, you can ask them to cut up pieces of tape, color, or paint over your makeshift wrappers. Getting crafty on your gifts is a great bonding activity with the little ones and can encourage them to explore their creative side. 

Consider Buying Secondhand

Again, you don’t have to rely on the mall entirely for your gifts. If you’re feeling a bit frugal this holiday season, you can gift pre-owned (but still functional) items to your friends and family. Apart from saving you a lot of cash, buying secondhand helps reduce waste and encourages your loved ones to take part in sustainable practices.

If you intend to go secondhand this Christmas, consider going through reliable avenues such as thrift stores, ukay-ukay, and online buy-and-sell channels like Facebook Marketplace. That said, online marketplaces can also be a great way for you to earn extra money if you have some items that you plan to sell.

Cut Down on Traditional Decor

It’s typical for Filipinos to bring out the Christmas lights and extravagant decor as early as September, but the need to deck the halls in lavish adornments can sometimes keep you from allocating your budget properly. If it’s part of the family tradition to decorate the house ahead of Christmas, you may want to keep the decor to a minimum and avoid buying more from your local mall. If you have last year’s decorations stocked somewhere in the house, you can recycle them for this year as well. You can also choose to skip the decorations entirely, especially if your family is going to spend the holidays out of the house anyway.

If Christmas lights are an absolute must, you can keep them from ballooning your electric bill by applying some environmentally friendly practices. For instance, you can set a timer so that your Christmas lights will turn off automatically at a reasonable hour. You can also check your options for LED lights, which are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs since they use 80 to 90 percent less energy.

Mix Up Your Noche Buena

Most modern-day Pinoy families do away with the tradition of cooking noche buena in favor of ordering via food delivery apps. However, doing so can be quite costly, especially if you’ll be hosting guests. As such, it may be ideal to home-cook this year’s noche buena instead. Ahead of the 24th, prepare a meal plan to determine all the ingredients you need to buy from the grocery or wet and dry market. And similar to preparing homemade gifts, cooking noche buena can be an excellent bonding opportunity with the family. It’s also a great way to teach the kids basic cooking skills, even if they just have to roll graham balls, prepare refrigerator cakes, or make lumpia.

If there are still excess ingredients in the fridge after Christmas, you can use them to whip up different meals and baon for the kids, allowing you to optimize your noche buena expenses.

Keeping the Christmas Season Budget-Friendly

There’s no doubt that Christmas is the most expensive part of the year, more so for those who have families to support. With all the gatherings and traditions scheduled throughout the season, your household’s combined income, 13th month pays, and Christmas bonuses might not be enough to cover all the expenses. Still, a fulfilling Christmas with the people you love doesn’t have to be out of reach. With a few budgeting tactics and a bit of creativity, you can keep your household afloat without sacrificing what makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year.