It’s the most wonderful time of the year to think about how to save money this Christmas! It really is the start of a great holiday season, but you may see lots of stress and the removal of $$$ in your near future. There’s no need to worry. With these helpful tips to save money this Christmas, you’re sure to be more calm and actually enjoy this holiday season! The key is to be prepared!
Make a List
Put together a list (or lists) of everything that you plan to spend money on this holiday season. You may want to use an excel spreadsheet for this to make it clean, organized and so you can easily add up amounts. Write every person’s name that you will buy gifts for and write down the charity that you’ll be donating money to.
Using your list, jot down ideas of gifts that you would like to purchase for your loved ones. Be prepared! You don’t want to walk aimlessly into a store and purchase a snuggie for Uncle Carl because you didn’t write down that awesome gift idea that you had 2 weeks ago.
Are you baking goodies for friends and neighbors? Plan out what you will bake. Are you cooking Christmas dinner? Make a list of food that you’ll serve, look around your kitchen at the ingredients that you have and then make a list of the ingredients that you need at the grocery store.
Set a Budget
This is extremely important! First, decide an overall total amount that you want to spend for Christmas. Then grab the many lists that you just put together. Next to each person that you are buying a gift for, write an amount of how much you plan to spend on their gift. Look at the ingredients that you need at the grocery store. Try to set an amount of how much cash you will need for that trip.
Don’t forget to add the purchase of new décor items, stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, white elephant party gifts, angel tree gifts, teacher gifts and charity gifts. Are you planning to play “You’ve been Elfed” with your neighbors? That too needs to be put on the budget.
If you plan to travel, your gas, hotel, flights and extra meals need to be included, as well. Having a budget helps put YOU in control! If you know what to expect, then you won’t be shocked with the amount you spent when Christmas is over. When you’re in control of your money, you’re happier! You can find a number of free Christmas budget printables online.
Start Shopping Early
Start shopping as early as you possibly can. Shopping early will help you stick to your budget and really take time to find that perfect gift within your budget. If you shop on Christmas Eve, chances are you are going to pick up the first thing you see and it will probably be priced higher than your budget allows.
If you get your purchases taken care of before December, then you have more time to spend going to all of the Christmas events around town or at your child’s school. You have to admit, December is fun, but it won’t be fun if your to-do list is still super long. Shopping early also leaves you feeling stress-free!
Use Cash, Not Credit Cards
It is a proven fact that people spend less when they are paying with actual dollar bills. Think of a credit card as a short term loan and something that you’ll have to worry and stress about when Christmas is over. So, look at your budget and figure out exactly how much cash you will need in order to complete all of your shopping. As you are in stores, use cash.
Mail Gifts Early
Now that you have finished shopping for Christmas gifts, wrap them up and put them in the mail. The earlier, the better! Mailing anything can be quite expensive at any time of the year. If you mail gifts early in December, then you won’t have to pay extra postage to have them arrive by December 25th.
Shop Cyber Week
Cyber week is the week after Thanksgiving and it’s supposed to be the time where companies put out the best marked down prices of the year for online purchases. Browse the ads and check out the sales that week online. Shopping Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is another option. There will be great deals out there, but plan your day and your purchases. Figure out what your time and stress are worth that day.
Use Discount Codes and Coupons
As you are shopping online, be sure to Google a discount code so that you can save even more money. If you are shopping in stores, print coupons that you find online or cut out coupons that came in the mail. When you go into a store, ensure you have the coupon in your purse. Be prepared to save money!
Take Christmas Card Pictures Early
Does your family take a Christmas card picture every year? This has become a very popular Christmas tradition. The trend continues … Do this early so you aren’t paying extra for a last minute photo shoot, paying extra as you rush order your prints or paying extra for getting the cards mailed and delivered by December 25th.
Give Homemade Gifts
If your budget is tight, you may consider giving homemade gifts instead of store bought gifts. There are many ideas on the internet for homemade gifts. Your hobby or talent may make it easy for you to give a homemade gift. You can also consider giving a service to someone. You can babysit for free as your friends have a date night, mow a loved one’s lawn for a month or offer to take cousin Johnny to baseball practice for a week. There are great service coupon books online to use!
Use Amazon Prime
If you shop on Amazon a lot, you must have Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime allows you to purchase items and have them delivered within 2 days for free. There is a fee for Amazon Prime, but if you purchase items regularly throughout the year and plan to purchase many Christmas gifts from Amazon, then it is well worth it.
There is also a way to split the cost between family members. Amazon also allows you and loved ones to create a wish list and share it. This could come in handy when trying to find a gift idea for someone. That should help your budget! Sometimes all we need is a great gift idea!
For even more discounts and deals, shop after Christmas! Stores tend to mark items way down after the busy holiday season. This is the time when you can prepare for birthday, wedding and shower gifts for the upcoming year.
Planning and taking care of the things on your to-do list early will save you money, time and stress in December. You’ll be able to spend more time with family, get more sleep, stay away from the crowds at the stores and enjoy more Christmas traditions. Be prepared and have a wonderful Christmas!
Natalie is a proud Army veteran’s wife who shares Military & Veteran discounts and support stories. She also provides everyday deals and steals for bargain shoppers. Find all of this and more at Stars, Stripes and Savings. Visit her on Twitter and Facebook.