Christmas is Coming on December 25
I know, I know... fall just began... why am I talking about Christmas? I don't know about you, but I'm certainly not ready for winter. Winter weather is not the concern today, but Christmas spending is... If you haven't begun saving for Christmas, I hate to break it to you, but it's right around the corner. If you've not been saving up for it until now, you've got just a few short months to save up, or deck the halls with bills come January, and that would be unfortunate.
Photo by Megan Schapp
Don't panic! There is still October, November, and December to save up. Here is a simple three step process to help save up some cash for Christmas.
- Set a budget: We make a list of everyone we want to buy gifts for and determine how much we want to spend on each. Total it up and we have our Christmas budget.
- Plan ahead: On our list (actually a spreadsheet) we include a column for ideas and links to things we are thinking for people. This helps us to not forgetthroughout the year.
- Save every month: The most important part... systematically save for Christmas. We save a little bit each month with a target date of November 1. Depending on our financial situation, we might use extra money to fund our Christmas budget earlier in the year. We did that this year.
With your plan in place, it's time to hone your super saving skills. One or more of these ideas might appeal to you. Don't worry about using them all, but try the few that get you the most excited.
For example: we do most of our shopping online, and the lure of Black Friday crowds makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. But, I know some that get most of their shopping done on black Friday.... to each their own...
Again, we do most of our shopping online. Kelsey is a whiz at this. Last year, I think we bought one gift in the store. We look for coupons, sales, deals, and free shipping to ensure the costs stay low. It saves us time and money from driving around town from store to store.
We use the Ebates button in our browser to make sure we're taking advantage of the cash back opportunities when available. You don't save any money on the purchase, but Ebates will email you a big fat check every time you shop through them.
If you don't know what Ebates is, you can read all about how to sign up and use it here.
If you need to buy gift cards, or have some time before you need to make a known purchase at a particular store, consider buying a gift card at a discount. Gift Card Rescue is a site that allows you buy (and sell) gift cards that others didn't want, often at a discounts up to 35%!
Prepare for Black Friday
A few months away, but I know personally I wouldn't attempt to tackle Black Friday shopping for the first time without some research and a plan. I've never participated in this, but have been intrigued by the deals before. Again, I'm no expert in this area, but there are some great deals out there if you know how to get them.
Think about Cyber Monday too if you are the online shopping type.
Any readers have experience in this area and want to give us some tips in the comments?
Patience for a Deal
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are when everyone knows when the deals are coming. But, if you have the money saved and know what you would like to buy for someone else, and there happens to be a deal in August, you can buy it!
As long as you won't get sucked into every deal out there, subscribe via email to some of your favorite stores and wait for their great deals throughout the year to buy gifts.
With a proper plan for Christmas shopping, and savings in place, it can alleviate some of the urgency that most experience.
Make Something Special
If you're handy or crafty and plan ahead, think about making something special for your friends and family. A handmade gift can be one of the most memorable gifts of the season. Pinterest would be the place to go for inspiration and how-tos on most anything you can dream up.
Christmas is a time of year for celebration, not financial stress. With some planning ahead of time, you can enjoy the season and avoid the after Christmas stress.