Tis’ the season for Christmas:
Christmas time can be a magical time. It can also be one of the most stressful months of the entire year. It has this true and pure spirit, its bright, festive and to me the most wonderful time of the year. We do live in a time now that gifts are “not expected” but deep down I think we hope for that one thing we’ve had our eye on all year. The downside is that it’s also one of the most expensive months in the entire year. So, I am here to help you combat the holidays, so we DO NOT go into debt.
Get yourself organized:
Okay, okay, this sounds so easy and repetitive, like yes, I already know what I want to get everyone and all that. I have a theory that if you physically write it down then you will actually stick to something. It’s totally fine if you don’t know what you want to get everyone yet, but you can get started. One of the easiest things to do is sit down and figure out your budget. Maybe you want to spend a certain amount on friends, or significant others, family, kids, whoever it may be – figure out your budget first. Then write out on a notebook how much you want to spend total on gifts and break down the amount per person.
Then what you want to do next is get a few different simple organization pieces. You can use a little plastic envelope that has dividers or even blank envelopes. Write every person’s name on it or on the tabs. If you feel comfortable with cash, you can put that amount in each tab or envelope so you can use those funds to purchase the gifts and know exactly what is left over for each person. Then take the receipt you get and put it in that same place so if you need to return something or they need the receipt you know exactly where it is.
Alternative to cash:
Now if you are not comfortable with cash you can use your card but take that notebook you started with and have every person’s name in there with the balance and money. This way you have a balanced checkbook essentially at all times and there is no guessing. This is a great trick to stay in budget! It’s so easy to just keep getting small things here and there but it adds up and it’s easy to go over budget without even knowing.
What about the food?
Second, I noticed in the past that I would go over budget and not know it. Well, have you thought about including your Christmas meal in your budget? Food is the easiest way to go over your budget. Most people don’t even think that food is a part of a budget. Start by planning out all the holiday meals. Are you hosting? What about a friend’s night for gifts or maybe New Year’s Eve dinner? Figure out all the meals that wouldn’t normally happen in any other month. Plan out the dishes ahead of time and the cost you anticipate.
Save money on the Christmas food:
Now for some money saving tips. Use grocery pick up! I can’t say this enough, it’s amazing. If you only want to do it for the Christmas, then make a profile so you can get free pick up or make a new one in your spouse’s name. Then start shopping! This saves you time and money. You are not going to be tempted to purchases the sale good items that aren’t on your list, and you’ll never forget an ingredient because you are shopping from home, so you can look at what you have and what you need. It’s so fast and easy (you’ll probably never want to stop.)
My other tip for food is don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are hosting – tell your guests what you will be serving, like ham and maybe the dessert. Ask everyone to bring a side to share, or dessert, or appetizer. This lowers the cost and takes some of the pressure off of you to cook this grand meal all day.
Search for the coupon:
Onto the next tip, use your resources! The internet has so many opportunities to save if you just spend a few minutes looking. You can type in the item you are looking at, or the store and search for things like “store coupon” or “free shipping” and I bet you can find a code that will work to save you even more. There are also dozens of free websites based around coupons. A lot of companies will pay someone to spread their coupon to get business about their new product. You can find so many of these sites and find some great deals that the stores won’t directly send out.
Let’s save money for Christmas!
Now the shopping has started so let’s start saving money. The first thing I am going to tell you to do is to start a holiday email address. When you are ready to do some shopping, I suggest trying online shopping. Most websites will offer you some sort of discount for joining their mailing list. Plus, you get coupons and alerts ahead of time this way. Having an email just for the holidays helps you track deals and sales for things you are actually searching for. You should also start shopping ahead of time. Build an account also to act like you are going to start shopping.
Ready for the mind-blowing trick? Go ahead and add the items you want to your cart and walk away! Don’t buy anything. Most websites after 2-3 days will notice that you never bought your items, but that you still have items waiting in your cart. They will send you email with something like “are you still interested” and guess what? Most of the time it will include a coupon code to purchase those items because the stores want you to complete your purchase. I notice that this happens even more around Christmas time.
Price match for the win!
Next, go ahead and search online stores near you that price match. Most stores want your business so badly that if you shop in person you can actually price match. So, what I do, is in the store I find an item I want. I go online and type in the item and click through a few different websites. If I see that it’s on sale at a different store, I will pull that page up at the cash register and they will drop the price to match. This is also going to save you a little bit of money as you don’t have to drive around to several stores to find the best price.
Now go out there and save!
I would love to know your tips and tricks for saving. I would also love to know if you have tried any of these tips and what works best for you. If you are interested in throwing a friends Christmas party please check out my Friendsgiving blog, and find us on Instagram also.