I love Christmas! I do not love that as soon as it is possible, many stores begin to put out holiday items. Although this sort of behavior may seem annoying, it may actually be the smart way to begin to plan for the holidays in advance. Keep in mind that this does not need to mean that you should overspend for the holidays. This strategy used correctly can in fact have the exact opposite results. Preparing in advance for the holidays can free up more money later on and make the holidays much less painful. If you are like me and have spent far too much in the past over the holidays, you may actually benefit from this type of approach. I advise against unnecessary credit card usage based on my own past experiences. Unless you are able to pay it off before the next bill goes out, do not use credit cards to fund your holiday expenses. I have asked a few other bloggers what their best advice on preparing in advance for the holidays is and I received a great response. Here are just a few of these great ideas to help you begin to prepare for the holidays.
Jessica from wiselittlehoots.com suggests
The main thing I tried last year and loved was setting a budget lower than before (or you could use your normal budget) but I shopped the sales and counted the full price of the items, in turn I saved a whole lot more. For instance, budget for my kids was $50 so I would buy a $50 item on sale and pay maybe $30. But I counted it as a $50.00 purchase. In the end I bought $50 worth but only spent $30 so I had left over budgeted money.
Jessica suggests creating a reasonable budget but to shop the sales to pay lower costs. Instead of buying more using your sale price as the cost, calculate it as the full price. In the end you’ll have left over money that you budgeted and you can stash that away in savings!
Laura from www.everydaybythelake.com suggests
1) Pare down the number of people you shop for. Instead of buying a gift for practically everyone you know, focus your efforts on those closest to you. For those you would still like to acknowledge, consider giving a card with a personal message or some baked goods that you can make in batches for small money.
2) Buy only one meaningful gift per person on your list. It’s easy to get carried away and buy several things you know each person would like—but is it necessary? Giving one thoughtful gift ensures your loved ones truly enjoy it, promotes a less cluttered home and saves you money.
3) Practice generosity throughout the year. Why save it all for Christmas? If you spread out the giving, it peppers in joy throughout the year and eases the burden on your budget.
4) Consider making gifts instead of buying them. You can paint pictures, take photos, write poems, bake treats, knit sweaters, etc. It may cost you more in time than shopping, but it will likely cost you less in dollars.
Daisy May from decidedlyaltered.com suggests
Christmas is the last month of each year and while I technically have 11 full months to save up for it, it doesn’t mean Always get to save up. I love Christmas, I do; but, the financial stress of the gift giving spirit almost always create a large dent on my budget, especially on a one-income household. It is the most wonderful and expensive time of the year for me. Fortunately, after each, I emerge with new knowledge to help alleviate the headache it causes me.
When I was younger, my aunt gifted me a concert ticket to Boys II Men, along with some of my other cousins. It was so much fun, made more memorable because there were a group of us that experienced it together. We still talk about it to this day. While I do realize concert tickets can get a bit pricey for a large number of people, the gift saving idea I am presenting is of similar concept.
Groupon is a fantastic website that offers special deals on local (and out-of-state) group activities such as: City scavenger Hunts ($14.99/6 = $2.50/1), Escape Room ($126/8 = $15.75/1), Ice Skating ($38/10 = $2.80/1), Painting Night ($71/4 = $18/1), 3 Hours Private Room Karaoke ($126/30 = $4.13/1) at discounted rates.
As a bonus, I try to use Ebates or ibotta to get additional cash back when I make a purchase. Groupon also has promotions throughout the year that offers additional discounts on the already low discounted prices, so I target those as well. I sound like a commercial for Groupon, I know; but, really it’s an amazing site to help extend the budget, especially during the Christmas season when the budget is stretched thin. For me, a group activity is a great opportunity to give something more than just a material gift. It builds memories and bonds us closer. And isn’t that what Christmas spirit is all about?
Jessie from onelostcoin.com suggests
I don’t know about your household, but the moment that I try to start saving for the holidays, Murphy’s Law tries to take over and everything starts happening at once. The car breaks down. The kids decide to have a growth spurt and need new clothes. Something happens to the house that needs fixing. Sound familiar?
For me, the only way I can save for Christmas is by tricking myself into saving. There are a few easy ways to do this:
If you spend mostly cash…
- Spare change will be your new best friend. Get a bucket to start putting it in, it piles up quickly!
- The $5 rule: Every time you have a $5 put it away in an envelope.
If you use mostly debit cards…
- You can do the “spare change” by signing up for Acorns today. It rounds up each purchase to the nearest dollar, and moves the “spare change” into a fund that you can withdraw. You can also choose to send a weekly amount to it, monthly amount, etc. (HINT: The best part about this is that if you like it, each month they offer BIG $$ if you convince a certain number of friends to join too. Like anywhere from $500-$1200)
- Automatic transfers- open a separate account for holidays, and set it up so when you have a payday, money is automatically transferred to that account.
Mrs. Sagebrush farms from sagebrushfarmnv.com
Holiday shopping can be super stressful, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget! The birth of our third child (twenty years ago!) facilitated the need for us to create a tighter budget so when it came to holiday shopping that meant that I needed to make some major changes.
In-the-midst of my struggle to figure out how to stick to the Christmas budget and still buy gifts for everyone on my list, I heard a woman share about how when her children were small they implemented a three-gift rule. She related it to the three wise men in the Christmas Story and how each one took a gift to the Christ-child, thus, resulting in three gifts per child, and I thought, “Bingo! I’m going to do this!”
We implemented the three-gift rule (for our children) that year and still do it to this day!
Another thing I learned to do was to divide the budget by the number of people on our list. I take an amount from the budget and allot it toward the gifts for our children and divide that amount by three (because I have three children) and then I take the remaining amount and divide it by the remaining number of people on my list which gives me the amount available to spend on each person.
Following these two budget-saving steps helps me really think about and hone in on what to purchase for each person. They actually make our gift-giving more meaningful because I really have to think about each person, consider who they are, what they like, and what they want (or may have asked for) and make the best purchase that I can with the amount of money I have set aside for them!
It wasn’t easy at first but after twenty years of following this process, I can’t imagine doing my holiday shopping any other way!
The last few tips are from Andrea (Saving Joyfully) herself
I have a few bonus ideas for preparing for the holidays that I would like to share with you also. There are many different things that I do throughout the year to save for the holidays. Here are just a few of those tips….
1. Look for free items as giveaways throughout the year
You can easily find these from bath n body works, Victoria’s Secret, jcpenney free $10 of $10 coupons, etc. You can begin to stock up using the free offers they send out throughout the year. These small gift items become great additional gifts and stocking stuffers that you can use to stretch you Christmas budget. They also make excellent teacher gift ideas for your childs teacher that you love.
2. Save and use your Kroger Free Friday Download items
Kroger offers these great friday freebies every week, so why not take full advantage of these. I often save these items throughout the months leading up to Christmas as additional items for the upcoming holidays. These may be anything from additional items for holiday meals or holiday donation items to a small stocking stuffer like candy and snacks.
3. Save gift cards throughout the year
You can earn these using ibotta, shopkick, mypoints, swagbucks, microsoft rewards, etc. These can be used towards so many different holiday costs from food items to purchasing gifts. Who would turn down free gift cards? Especially ones you can earn throughout the year so easily using simple everyday activities such as surfing the web, printing coupons and grocery shopping.
4. Re-purpose gift bags and boxes
I begin this by saving them from previous holidays and special occasions , when they are still in great shape. I even use the sturdy shopping bags from purchasing specific items as gift bags, such as Victoria’s secret, bath n body works, etc. (My husband hates this, but I do it anyways)
I hope you found some helpful money saving hacks from some of these brilliant frugal bloggers today. If you would like to contribute a money saving holiday hack I would love to potentially introduce a second post on saving money for the holidays. You may email me at [email protected] with your money saving holiday tips and you just might be featued in an upcoming post.
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