The holiday season can get expensive. And I mean like, really expensive. It seems like this time of year there are SO many things to spend money on– gifts, activities, taxes are due soon, all kinds of accounting issues and bills that need to be paid by the end of the year, etc. Does it ever leave you feeling completely overwhelmed? I feel that way a lot. And isn’t that silly? Because shouldn’t Christmastime bring peace — isn’t it really about the birth of the Prince of Peace? So, this year I am choosing to say no to feeling all that pressure to spend money that I don’t have. My family is going to keep things simple and celebrate Christmas on a budget. Here is how you can too!
(1) CREATE A BUDGET.
An obvious but often overlooked step to keeping spending under control during the holidays is to create a firm budget. We set an amount that each family member receives and we strive to stick to it, no matter what. That means that if we have already spent the allotted amount and we later find something that we think the family member would love, we either don’t buy it, or we return something we’ve already purchased before we buy it.
(2) USE ONLY CASH OR PRE-LOADED GIFT CARDS FOR CHRISTMAS SPENDING.
One easy way to ensure that you do not overspend on Christmas is to allot yourself your precise budget amount in cash or in pre-loaded gift cards. I personally find cash inconvenient and full of germs so I prefer a pre-loaded card. Once the money is spent, it is spent, and Christmas shopping is over.
(3) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BLACK FRIDAY SALES.
Make your money go further by shopping great deals happening on Black Friday. Most stores offer the same deals in store and online, so if crowds aren’t your thing, stay home and shop online. But some of the best deals of the year happen on Black Friday, so make sure you are on the lookout for the gifts that you are planning (or not) to grab for your loved ones.
(4) USE COUPONS.
Using coupons is a great way to score extra savings when you are doing your holiday shopping, helping you further stick to your budget. Keep your eyes out for manufacturer’s coupons (especially if you are buying toys!) and store coupons. Many stores like Target and Macy’s have their own coupons. If you play your cards right, you can pair a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon to get the best deals.
(5) USE AMAZON (and take advantage of their coupons!)
Amazon has been a life saver for me ever since I started working after our babe was born. You can find some of the best deals and I love that you can shop from independent sellers. (For example, I recently bought this handmade layered necklace with a gift card– this would be a to-die-for gift for any of the ladies in your life) Also, did you know Amazon has their own coupons? Be sure to browse through those before you get to shopping.
(6) PAIR COUPONS WITH SALES
One of the best ways to keep your budget under control is to pair your coupons with sales. This is especially true on Black Friday, but is true for any sale. For example, if a toy goes on sale “Buy One Get One Free” and you have a coupon for $3 off– that can be used on each product– you are esentially getting a “free” toy (because of the sale) PLUS $6 off with the coupon! Cha ching.
(7) SHOP IN ADVANCE
You can find the best deals if you are looking for Christmas deals year round. For example, this year, we found a really great price on magnet tiles at our state fair in September. They were about half price of what they normally cost in store. We bought some and they have been hiding in our closet for the past couple of months.
(8) USE REBATE APPS LIKE IBOTTA
In addition to using coupons, make sure you are maximizing savings by using cash back apps like Ibotta. Frequently, there are cash back deals on “any item.” All you have to do is scan in a quick photo of your receipt and you get cash back, almost instantly.
(9) USE CASH BACK WEBSITES LIKE EBATES.
One of my absolute favorite ways to shop is to use EBATES. All you do is go to ebates.com and then choose the store you want to shop from. Purchase the item through that link, and earn a percentage back. I frequently get 12% back on deals from Macys and there are hundreds of stores that you likely already shop at, like Walmart.
(10) BUY GENTLY USED ITEMS
Buying gently used items can be a great way to save money in your Christmas budget. This works especially well for gifts like toys or clothes that young kids will easily grow out of. It also works well for unique items like picture frames or art work. I’ve had luck finding “adult toys” like a boccie ball set that looked brand new and still had the original tags. I like finding deals on e-bay and at local thrift stores.
You don’t have to take on mountains of debt to celebrate Christmas. You can comfortably celebrate Christmas on a budget by keeping your spending under control with these ten tools.
What shopping hacks have you found for your Christmas shopping? We’d love to hear from you!