Does it feel as though it's too early to talk about Christmas? It does to me, considering it's the beginning of October, and we haven't even gotten through Halloween yet! However, now is a great time to talk about the holidays if you want to find ways to save money on Christmas gifts this year.
Christmas shopping can be a major budget buster and a HUGE stress! Here are 4 simple ways to save money on your holiday shopping this year:
1) Set your budget
Do you have a large family to buy for? Consider setting a spending limit or implementing a Secret Santa approach to limit the number of people you are giving gifts to. Consider family member expectations and social situations as you create your budget. Don't spend more than you can afford – it'll just get you in trouble down the road.
2) Spread out your shopping over several months
Start planning your list and keeping your eye out for sales now. Starting with a list helps to ensure that you don't impulsively buy items you can't afford (or are in addition to the items on your list, thus breaking your budget). Also, I find that keeping a list handy helps me remember what I'm searching for regarding sales.
I often start keeping my eye out towards the end of summer so that I can spread out my purchases and shop for sales for at least 4 months.
3) Buy an extra gift or two
Inevitably, I receive a gift or two I wasn't expecting. Whether it's from a neighbor or a generous friend, I want to show my appreciation and gratitude for them in my life by reciprocating. However, those unexpected gifts can be real budget breakers if not planned for ahead of time.
I find that something generic but useful is a great gift go-to in this situation. Keeping some nice blank Christmas cards on hand and a couple of gift cards to Target or another favorite store or restaurant allows me to put together a gift in no time. I have also begun purchasing some of my gift cards at Costco (or Sam's Club) because I can get a discount on the gift cards I purchase. This is something that can even be done much earlier in the year (so that it doesn't strain your budget while doing the bulk of your Christmas shopping) since gift cards don't expire at most retailers (verify that before purchasing, if you are unsure).
4) Limit the number of gifts you plan to give
The sheer number of gifts and boxes at Christmas can be overwhelming (and unnecessary). Especially when buying for kids – picking out gifts can be fun, leading us to buy way too much and spend way too much.
Instead, put in place a system to help you keep track and make sure you aren't going overboard. I generally just set a specific number for the present limit. For example each of my kids will get 3 presents this year.
However, a friend of mine introduced me to the idea of giving each kid “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read”. I love the concept because it's well rounded (not just giving the kids all toys) as well as setting a limit to keep me in check and on budget.
By making a plan ahead of time and setting a budget, you can effectively save a lot of money on your holiday shopping this year! Take advantage of the great deals mentioned above to help keep you on track.
Need some ideas on cheap but meaningful gifts to give the adults in your life?
Let us know in the comments: what are budget busters for you during the holidays?
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