The following is a guest post from Kelly at Buddy Bits.
The holidays are drawing near and for most Americans; this means a mountain of debt is coming. Retailers encourage extra spending by packaging their normal products in holiday colors or ‘limited edition’ patterns. Some even go as far as knocking a buck or two off of the normal retail price just to lure customers in the door. So how do you enjoy the holidays without blowing your life’s savings or building a mountain of debt? PLANNING!
Let’s face it – we do our day-to-day saving through planning, so why not plan out Christmas? There are tons of ways to save money (and patience) this holiday season. Below are just some of my ideas.
Stary Early, and by early, I don’t mean Halloween. I mean, December 26th. That’s right – start your Christmas shopping 364 days early. You will find some awesome deals the day (and week) after Christmas. It may be hard to shop for kids that early, but it’s super easy to find deals for adults. Need an example? Last year, on December 26th, I found appetizer plates (pictured above) for $0.25 each. That’s $1 for a gift worth $25!
Make Three Lists
That’s right – three lists. The first list should be the people you are buying gifts for, no matter what the circumstances. The second list should include friends and other people who you would consider buying for if a gift exchange is proposed. Finally, the third list should be groups of people you won’t buy for. On my third list, I include groups like the children in the nursery at church, co-workers, and my husband’s co-workers. It can be very easy to get caught up in the good deals that are presented during the holidays, so avoid temptation by having lists.
Create a Gift List
Writing things down keeps you on track with a budget. As you find deals, keep a list of gift ideas for all the people you plan to buy for. Then, as you are online and in-store, compare the prices. See where you can get the best deal and don’t be afraid to ask for price matches. If you can’t find an item in-store, many businesses will provide free shipping if you order online and have your order shipped to one of their locations. Try this option to take advantage of online deals and save some shipping cost! If you want to get paid to shop, try ebates.com! As you purchase gifts, write them down so you aren’t buying duplicate items or too many gifts for one person.
There are tons of homemade gift ideas that are timeless. My personal favorite is a sugar scrub. There are tons of recipes online for sugar scrubs, and they don’t take a ton of time or money to make. A small jar lasts a few months, so it is a gift that keeps on giving.
You can earn a ton of free swag from in-home sales companies like BeautiControl, Premier Jewelry, and Mary Kay. The biggest benefit of being a hostess is the free stuff, so why not use those gifts as Christmas presents. Have a goal in mind to get one person’s Christmas gift per party. Invite different people to each party so friends don’t feel obligated to spend a ton of money. It’s a great way to get together with your girlfriends and have some fun while earning your Christmas gifts. It works too – I was able to get this necklace for my sister for free when I hosted a Premier Jewelry party.
Cut Expenses from Normal Budget
Do you normally set aside $20/week for gas? See if you can combine trips and cut that expense to $15/week. That’s $20 per month for Christmas gifts. If you eat out a lot, eat in one extra night per month and use that money for Christmas. If you are already strapped for cash and living on as close to nothing as possible, pick up a 10 hour a week part-time job and use that money for Christmas presents. Most retailers need seasonal help, and are willing to take people on for as little as 8 hours per week and as many as 40. Shop around and see what you can find!
The holidays don’t need to be a time to worry about spending and debt. The holidays should be represented by friends and family. Hopefully this will help you to enjoy a little more and spend a little less.
Buddy Bits is written by twenty-something Kelly, a graduate student and wife, who loves to spend (and save) money. Buddy Bits is not just a savings blog, it is a life blog. Check out frugal finds, life lessons, funny moments and more at www.buddy-bits.blogspot.com .