Being extremely active on social media, I’ve seen tons of updates about how Christmas is just around the corner. As much as I don’t want to start planning right now (procastinator!) it’s important so that I’m not breaking the bank in December. So many families don’t plan for the holidays early enough, and end up putting a lot of their holiday gifts on credit cards. Proper planning and smart shopping starting now can help you save in the long run, and avoid massive credit card bills when the new year rolls around. Check out these 10 tips for making your Christmas as financially un-stressful as possible!
10 tips for planning Christmas on a budget
10. Start making a list of what your kids want – As you hear them ask for specific things, or notice something that they could use, add it to a list. You can easily make a list on your smartphone with an app like Evernote, and access it from anywhere. This will really come in handy once you start actually purchasing gifts.
9. Put aside money each pay period – Set aside a little bit each time you get paid. Cut out stopping for coffee in the morning a few days a week, or maybe pack your lunch for work instead of going out. Use that money for your Christmas fund instead. There are about 25 weeks from the beginning of July until Christmas, so just saving $20 a week means you’ll have $500 to spend on gifts! Be sure that money goes into a separate account so you don’t accidentally spend it!
8. Subscribe to Amazon deals – Did you know that Amazon has Gold Box lightening deals available for a short period each day? Subscribe to get those deals in your inbox and never miss out again! Many of the deals are well over 50% off!
7. Start cleaning out toys – Go ahead and start going through your kids’ toys now, and get rid of items that are broken, missing pieces, or that they have outgrown. Once you pare them down and see what they have left, you’ll have a better idea of what they need. You may realize they already have tons of stuff they still play with, or that they could use more Barbie clothes or Legos for their collection. It’s easier to figure out what to buy when you have an accurate list of what they already own.
6. Talk to your family about what to buy – If you have family members that always give your children gifts, talk to them about what they plan to purchase. If there are specific items that you know your child wants, let everyone know. If you plan to buy something that has accessories or add-on kits, that’s a great thing to clue family in on. Another great way to share your child’s holiday wish list is through a site like GiftBirdy, which lets the kids make their own list online and then share it with others.
5. Shop Craigslist, Ebay, and consignment sales – You can find great deals on gently used (and often new) items by searching Craigslist and Ebay. I’ve also found great gifts by shopping yard sales and consignment sales in during the fall. Your kids are going to open the boxes and use their gifts anyway, so why not buy something that’s out of the box but still in excellent condition? This is a great way to pick up things like toddler toys, video games, outdoor toys and more, for often less than 50% of the regular retail price. (Just be sure to exercise caution when purchasing items from Craigslist. Meet sellers in a very public place, and if a deal sounds way too good to be true, it probably is.)
4. Utilize layaway plans – If you have your eye on a big ticket item that you don’t currently have the money for, see if one of your local stores offers layaway. You can pay a portion of the money up front, and then make payments over several weeks. If the item goes on sale while it’s on layaway, most stores will honor that price and adjust it if you just bring it to their attention. Toys R Us, KMart, and Sears are just a few of the stores that currently offer layaway programs for their customers.
3. Shop daily deal sites – Sites like Zulily and One Kings Lane offer short term deals on popular items. Sign up to get their updates via email, and you’ll know about the big deals as soon as they are available. Last year I got the super popular Pillow Pets for my kids for $1o from 1SaleADay.com for just $10, when they were retailing for at least $25 at other stores! Be sure to share deals your friends would like as well, because most of those sites reward you with credit when your friends place an order.
2. Check out the clearance section – Big name stores like Walmart and Target always have items on clearance, so when you are doing your regular shopping each week, take a second to check out the clearance aisle. I have picked up several gifts at a huge discount that way. I also like to look for clearance deals at local drug stores, and even grocery stores have good deals sometimes!
1. Saving pocket change – Instead of using that change in the bottom of your purse, set it aside for your holiday fund. Just a few coins here and there can really add up! Do the same thing with found money, and you’ll have a nice little stash of cash to add to your holiday budget by the end of the year. Every penny really does count, trust me!
Using these tips and a few others, I managed to spend just $250 on holiday gifts for my six children last year. Christmas on a budget is totally possible, as long as you plan ahead! Need some ideas for budget friendly gifts? Check out the post I wrote with over 100 gifts you can get on Amazon for $2.00 or less, including shipping!Keep on saving! :o)
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