As those of you who have been long time readers know, I’m a budgeter! As you may recall I appeared in Real Simple magazine earlier in the year, announcing my frugality to the world. Friends who have known me for years said, “Ah, ain’t that the truth!?”
So as you can imagine, holidays require a bit of planning on our home. I recently read an article in our hometown newspaper that stated most people do not walk into the holidays on a budget. Instead, they buy here and there, spending without really calculating, and then gasp when the bills begin to roll in the first of the year. In fact, some people, so the article said, are sometimes still paying off last year’s bills when the holidays roll around again!
As you can imagine, that made this frugal mom a little sick to her stomach! So I wanted to take some time this morning to talk to those of you who are not budgeting for the holidays. I won’t yell; instead, I’ll simply list some tips that might help as you begin your holiday shopping. And if I ‘m too late to make you see the light this year, perhaps by next you will join my frugal side!
First, if you can use credit cards that afford you points that you can exchange for gift cards, do so! We get points on our gas and grocery shopping card throughout the year, and we don’t case those in until the end of the year, when we trade them for gift cards to stores like Jc penney’s, Target, and the like. If you think this doesn’t make a difference, think again: This year we received $600 in gift cards! This money is then spent on our family, so my husband takes some, I take some and the girls get some money and we all get a new wardrobe, which counts as part of our Christmas. This could also be used on friends and family as well. It’s free money, as we aren’t putting any money out that we wouldn’ t already be putting out, and it saves us a ton in the end!
Shop throughout the year. I know that this annoys some of you to death, but I’m telling you, you can get the best bargains all year long and save so much money if you just shop during the year! Keep a plastic tub handy in which you toss in newly purchased gifts. I do this each year and by the time the holidays roll around I have very little to get each person on my list. I also find that by doing it this way I am able to accumulate some of the coolest items! Last year I bought a scrapbooking kit that I found for my best friend, so that she can complete it with her daughter. I haven’t found anything else like it all year, and I am so glad that I picked it up when I did.
Keep a list and check it twice. Know who you need to shop for and budget money for each person. Keep track of what you spend and when the money for that person has run dry, then it is time to stop shopping. Allocate for each person on your list and only spend that much, regardless of what other cool items you find while you are out and about.
Take advantage of after Christmas sales. I never go the day after; I can’t stand the throbs of people pummeling me as I make my way down the aisles. Instead I go a few days later, when things have been marked down even more. I stock up on wrapping paper, bows and other items needed for the following season, as well as candy and cookie tins and small items that can be used as last minute gift ideas.
Overall, be prepared in advance. Try to get your shopping done as early as possible, which will save you both time and money.
Happy Monday, Moms!