- A Little Goes a Long Way: We’ve all heard it a thousand times, but many of us just chose to ignore it. I urge you, this year to take this seriously. Decide how much you need to do your December shopping this year (NOW). Figure out how many pay checks you will get in between then and now. Divide that amount by the number of paychecks. Each check put that amount into a separate jar or account that you won’t touch. Chances are the amount you put in each pay period will be so small that you will hardly notice, but come time for Christmas shopping you won’t be struggling to buy the gifts you want because you can’t afford them.
If you don’t get pay checks (because you are self employed or too young to work) or you don’t get paychecks on regular time intervals do the same thing as those who get a pay check, except you will just decide how often you want to add to your stash. So, maybe you want to do it every week, or every two weeks (don’t go more than two weeks apart). Now divide your budget for December by how many weeks (or whatever time you chose) there are between now and then. Make sure to mark your calendar, or set a reminder on your phone so that you pull the money out and put it into the jar/December account
Some employers offer Christmas (December accounts) account through their payroll system. These are really helpful because they deduct the amount you chose from your paychecks and you don’t have to even think about it. When you get your check the money was already pulled out so it feels like you never had it, yet it is there for you come shopping time.
- Start Early: Not only should you start saving money early, but you should start shopping early. The earlier you start shopping the more time you have to wait for good deals, shop around, and find exactly what you want to buy for the right price. Not to mention, you can take advantage of programs like layaway so you don’t have to commit the full amount right away, but aren’t driving up credit debt.
- Use Discount Cards: So we are all familiar with the “spend $30 get $10 off” type discount cards. Some companies that are very well know for doing this are Kohls, Macy’s and Victoria Secret. These are just a few of the many. If you start earlier in the year you have a chance to use these types of discounts on the gifts you want to buy. These cards are always given a date range that you can use them. So, the earlier you start the more chances you will have at using them, and using lots of them. Think of it this way. What if you get a “spend $30 get $10 off” from Macys every 2 months. If you started your shopping six months in advance and every two months you used one you would save $30 on the same gift that normally would have cost you full price. Assuming you only spent $30 each time that’s huge. You spent $60 where you would have spent $90. If you had waiting until right before you wouldn’t have been able to use them.
- Plan Themed Gift Exchange Parties: For many people it’s hard to limit the number of people you buy gifts. You love giving gifts and you have so many people you would like to buy something for, but you don’t have the money. There is a really great way to remedy this problem for large extended families and groups of friends. Throw a pot luck style party so everyone is contributing to the food and you don’t end up spending money on that. Draw names long before the party, each person will buy one gift, and each person will get one gift. Pick a theme to the gift and a spend limit (min and max). Then everyone can open their gifts at the party. No one will feel left out, and no one feels like they have to buy a ton of gifts. You are still celebrating with people you care about but without the additional stress. An example of a “theme” is pajamas. If you have a close nit group of girls you can do pajamas. Each girl gets a new pair of pjs. Picking a theme helps to make the gifting seem more “equal”. No one has to feel pressured about what to buy, and no one feels cheated by what they got. It’s a lot of fun and creates great memories. You can’t beat fun traditions like that.
- Buy after the Season is Over: Presents aren’t the only large expense during the December Season. There are plenty of other things that rack up the bill. Like: gift wrapping, decorations, thank you cards, lights, lawn décor and house lights, etc. If it’s not perishable, the key is to buy these things after the Season is over for the following year. You will be amazed at how one day can cut a price in half and sometimes more.