I was telling AJ the other day that I felt this was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable Christmas seasons. I think the biggest reason why it was such a great season, instead of a wildly stressful one, as it can be, was because we were very careful about what we were spending during it. There is no doubt in my mind I will do all of these things I list below next year… and even try to add more ways to save.
Make a list and don’t leave it. Designate every single person you need to buy for here and outline what you intend to get for that person. Include things you think of as silly like neighbor gifts or gifts for co-workers… those little gifts add up. I always think it’s important to ask each person what they want… isn’t it always nicer to receive something that you really want or need?
Simplify. We have a pretty strict budget for Christmas, the past two years AJ and I didn’t even get each other gifts other than fun stocking stuffers, we just put the money into projects around the house we wanted to get done. This year we are filling the kids stockings with about seven bigger things but fun things like Legos, cars and a Barbie. I don’t want stockings to just be filled with junk we’ll never use, I’d rather us include five to seven great items that’ll constantly be loved instead of 20 items that are fun to open on Christmas morning and then get discarded. As for the larger gifts we stuck to the mentality of an outfit, a book or a few books and a toy.
This year, for the first time we did choose names out of a hat for AJ’s siblings and their spouses. This really simplified the buying process. AJ and I each gave one nice gift to the people we chose and called it a day. Less money and less stress.
Ebates. I’ve talked about this site before and I love it (read THIS if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I get money back at a bunch of online retailers every quarter just by activating their plug in. As an added bonus, you can tell your friends about it and make $5 per referral. Make sure you install this before you do any online shopping but especially Christmas shopping. They always increase the money back for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Use Canva to design your Christmas cards or party invites. You can get either free designs or nearly free designs. They can be emailed to save on postage (I always prefer having a hard copy so I try to hand deliver as many as possible to save on postage). Staples or a local print shop could print them for you on 80 – 100 pound cardstock. I design all of our Christmas cards in Word and then print them at my local print shop (Gordon College’s print shop for you local folks!). I end up paying about 30 cents per card and envelope combo.
Ask for help. If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas party or whatever don’t hesitate to ask people to bring things. I always have a set vision for an event so if I’m asking people to bring things sometimes I’ll tell them what to bring and sometimes I’ll have a plate or platter ready to go for them to pop their item on when they get here.
Shop Black Friday and / or Cyber Monday. This may seem like a no brainer to some but I get about half of my shopping done during this weekend. I make sure to have lists from all the people I’m buying for before Thanksgiving so I’m ready to go. I was incredible successful at the outlets this season (like getting THIS WALLET (below) for myself as well. :))
Have an account designated for your Christmas spending. I got a job planning a wedding shortly before Christmas. The $1000 from that wedding was designated to go directly toward Christmas. This was our only money allotted towards Christmas, other than some I received from a sponsored post for the blog that we put towards food for our Christmas party. Knowing we weren’t going to charge anything for Christmas gifts made me very careful about deciding what to spend our money on and made me feel fabulous knowing we didn’t have to worry about how we were going to pay for Christmas long after Christmas was over.
COMING UP LATER THIS WEEK:
Saving money in all areas of life…. in the comments I’d love to hear how you save in your life. I got loads of great ideas I’d never thought of when I asked my Facebook friends so I’ll compile the ideas from your comments and my Facebook response here later this week. Respond by Tuesday evening to be included!