Since I love cold weather, holidays and shopping Christmas is a very exciting time for me. But hold up, it can get expensive fast and I also like to save money and be cautious of spending. With Christmas less than three months away, many are starting to think about their holiday budget. Throughout the season I will be offering up some money saving tips and budget-friendly holiday activities. First I wanted to share a short little guide with my favorite ways to stay on a budget for the holidays. These are ideas I have used myself and found successful, enjoy!
Tip #1 – Start Cleaning Up!
Before the holiday season arrives, it is a good idea to clean out items you no longer use to make room for the new items that will be coming in. Three years ago around November, I started selling items for the first time ever on Facebook. The yard sale sites were becoming popular and my daughter was starting to outgrow her baby and toddler toys. We had some really nice items so I decided to list them and see what happened. It took some time but I was able to sell almost everything I listed and ended up being able to purchase my daughter and husband’s gifts that year completely with sale funds. Some items I sold included a plush rocking chair and small doll house. If you have children with outgrown items, this is a great source of revenue. Many parents check out the yard sale sites for gently used items to buy gifts for their children, which brings me to my next tip…
Tip #2 – Purchase Second Hand!
Who says Santa can only buy brand new items? Buying second hand is not only a great way to reduce your carbon footprint but it is also an excellent way to save money, and you help out others trying to make a little cash. A few years back my daughter wanted an American Girl doll. She was still pretty young but loved dolls already so I decided to purchase a used one as sort of a training doll for her. Again, this can take time and patience but after a few weeks of searching, I found a doll in great condition for $70.00 including shipping. American Girl dolls retail for around $115.00 plus shipping. The doll arrived in great condition and after a little tidying up she was good to go. I have turned to second-hand sources for many of my child’s gifts and what you can find is amazing. For her first birthday, I was able to get her a Fisher Price Little People house and barn for just $14 at a consignment sale. I like to shop second hand throughout the year, as saving money is not a seasonal activity.
Tip #3 – Stack Savings!
Target is my go-to place for many items and I end up purchasing many Christmas gifts there as well. There are a few great ways to save at Target. I have a RedCard which gets me 5% off every purchase and free shipping. Then I also have the Cartwheel app on my phone so I can download coupons. This is a favorite of mine because they have coupons for so many house brand items. Then Target often sends out mail with great coupons. They also have some great Black Friday deals that last through Saturday. One thing I really like about Target on Black Friday is they stock sale items throughout the day. So no rush to arrive with the masses when the doors open, I always show up hours after the rush and enjoy a Starbucks while strolling through the store.
Tip #4 – Prioritize and Budget!
Last but not least, set your priorities and stay on budget. Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time and blowing your budget or sinking into credit card debt can wreck your holly jolly quickly. It can be hard to not get sucked into the holiday craziness but decide ahead of time who you are buying for, what you are spending and stick to it. And not all gifts have to be material items. Are you and your sisters at a loss as to what to buy each other? Agree to not buy anything and go on a lunch date together later on in the season. You will spend less and create a fun memory. Cannot think of a gift for your spouse? Save the money now and upgrade your summer vacation with a couples massage. Kids already have a ton of toys? Give them a coupon book good for the year filled with fun outings like a day trip to the zoo or a nearby amusement park. This will spread out your spending throughout the year. Be creative and you will think of all sorts of fun alternative gifts. I would personally enjoy a lunch out or basket of homemade goodies over another knick knack in my house any day.
Tip #5 – Give Back!
If you are able, don’t forget your neighbors in need this holiday season. If you cannot give financially, think of ways to volunteer if you are able. Elderly shut-ins usually love having company over and their caregivers would greatly appreciate a break or an offer for you to run some errands. There are always places that need your help, just go out and find them.
I hope you find these tips helpful and I will add more as we approach the holiday season. Please share your favorite ways to save over the holidays!