We all know that this time of year can get very expensive, I know I don’t have to tell you that. For me, it’s always the time of year when I have to pull out my credit card because the amount of spending is more than I can bear to see come out of my checking account. But over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that there are certain ways to save yourself not only money but time too – just by following a few of my handy dandy tips. It may be a little late in the game for some of these this year, but it’s still a good thing to note for next year as well.
1. Start Shopping Early… Like, Now.
Yes, start shopping now because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that you are going to end up paying way more if you wait to get your gifts and groceries until Christmas Eve. The sooner you start, the longer you have to prepare and the more likely you are to catch a great deal on items that you need instead of buying them at full price because you have no other choice. Trust me on this one, I start shopping the day after Christmas because it gives me the opportunity to score awesome deals.
2. Swap Names For Gifts
Up until a couple years ago, both sides of my family bought gifts for every single person in our family. This was a serious amount of stress and money because it’s a lot of gifts! Last year, we got smart and put everyone’s names in a hat. That way, everyone still gets a gift, but you don’t have to buy 15 different gifts now, just one. That in itself will save you loads!
3. Jot Dot Gift Ideas
I have an ongoing ‘note’ on my phone that has family/friends names along with gift ideas that pop into my head when I’m out and about and see something that someone would love. That way, I have an idea of what to get people and if I happen to see a good sale on one of those items throughout the year, I can grab it and save it for a special occasion where I’d need to get them a gift. It has been a lifesaver. So listen closely to what people say they are in need of, because that just might be your ticket to a great holiday gift this year!
4. Watch For Hot Deals and Shop Them
I follow several coupon blogs on Facebook, who frequently post about awesome deals that pop up at a moment’s notice. When I see something that might be a perfect gift for someone, I jump on the opportunity to score a great deal on that item. Let these blogs do the heavy lifting for you and you’ll be amazed at how many items you can find for low, low prices – and all you have to do is follow them on Facebook!
Since I know you’re probably wondering, some of these Facebook blog pages include:
Oh, and don’t forget the Real Housewives of MN Facebook page too 🙂 I post some pretty great things on there as well!
5. Bake Your Gifts
You don’t have to go to elaborate lengths to give Christmas gifts this year. If the budget is tight, consider giving the gift of baked goods. Everyone loves this and it’s a treat that just keeps giving, even after the holidays. It may sound like a lame idea, but it really doesn’t have to be. Bake a variety of cookies and then go thrifting for containers – I always see cute tins, boxes and containers this time of year for less than a $1.00. Clean them up good and pack it with some cellophane and ribbon to make it a gorgeously inexpensive holiday gift.
6. Take Advantage of Free Shipping
This time of year, stores are throwing around free shipping like crazy. Why waste gas and time going out to the store when you don’t have to? Especially if the store isn’t near you, then it really doesn’t make sense to drive there when they likely have free shipping on orders, sometimes you have to spend a certain amount but it’s usually around $50, and if you’re spending that on a gift or a few gifts, then you are set! So I guess what I’m saying is, always check their website before you make a hike to the store, it will save you in the long run.
7. Set a Budget
If you go into a store knowing that you will only spend a certain amount on a gift, you’ll likely spend less and not get carried away. Many times for our family gift exchange, we set the price max to $20-25 so that no one has to stress about spending too much. It helps to keep everyone in check, and you don’t feel guilty about not spending more.
8. Do Without
Sometimes we’re so busy with ‘wanting’ things, that we don’t stop to think if we really need them. This time of year, stores totally target this mentality and take advantage of the fact that we all want to make this Christmas the best one ever. In reality, do you really need fresh wreathes for every door in the house, Christmas-themed plates/napkins/toilet paper?? Probably not. For the past couple years, my husband and I have skipped getting a Christmas tree. Do I miss it? Yes, but it also saves about $80 every year, plus the constant watering and maintenance before and after… We know that we will eventually go back to having one when we have kids, but right now it’s not like we absolutely need it – and another Christmas tree sleeps easy tonight 🙂
9. Hand Deliver Christmas Cards
Sometimes Christmas cards can get spendy. If you figure about $1 per card to get printed, and $0.50 for a stamp for each card… then let’s say you send out about 50 cards – you’re going to spend $75 just on Christmas cards and what do you have to show for it? Instead, if you are on a budget, consider hand-delivering your cards to your family and friends. Get them printed early so that you can hand them out when you will see them next. If nothing else, give them to them on Christmas when your family gets together or New Year’s when you see your friends. However it ends up working out best, you’ll save oodles on postage. Plus, if you end up printing your cards at home yourself, you can save yourself even more.
10. DIY Wrapping & Tags
I seen at the store yesterday that wrapping paper averages somewhere between $2.50 and $5.00 per roll. I don’t know about you, but I go through about four or five of those rolls around Christmas time. Skip the traditional paper and go for something a little cheaper. Newspaper, tissue paper, and even grocery bags (inside out so there’s no words) make great alternatives.
For gift tags, don’t buy them; make them! You can use old Christmas cards and cut little shapes out of them, or just use cardstock and cut to the shape of a classic gift tag or even an ornament. Sometimes, I even just use a sharpie and write on the gift wrap itself – that wasn’t really to save money, but mostly because I get lazy after wrapping so many gifts! But it does help keep expenses down as well 🙂
11. Keep Your Eye on Sales Flyers
Be sure to page through the weekend newspaper to see what deals the stores are having that week on groceries. This time of year, you can find great deals on baking essentials, traditional holiday meal ingredients, and everything holiday related. Plus, you’ll usually be able to find coupons for those same items around this time of year so take advantage of both and get some good deals on your grocery essentials!
12. Price Match
Many stores these days (including Target, Walmart, Cabela’s, etc.) will price match if you find a price better elsewhere. This can save not only money but also the time you would have spent driving to the other store with the lower price. I use an app called Shop Savvy and it has you scan a barcode of the item you want, then it searches high and low for a lower price. Bring that lower price to the store’s customer service department and 90% of the time, they will price match it. You’ll probably only run into problems if the lower price is of a used item on ebay or of a store that you haven’t maybe heard of before.
13. Host a Holiday Potluck
If you regularly host during the holidays, have your guests bring a dish or two to share. For my mom’s side of Christmas, each family brings an appetizer or two and some treats. That way, one person doesn’t get stuck footing the bill for a big meal, and everyone usually finds something that they like! It’s less stressful and the costs get dispersed evenly among everyone and not just one person.
14. Attend Free Holiday Events
Forget paying $5 to see Santa or to walk through a holiday wonderland. Many cities have free events that they put on for the public to enjoy. This includes everything from tree-lighting ceremonies, caroling groups, ice skating in the park, or even just going on a drive looking at Christmas lights. You can still enjoy the season without spending money on these experiences.
15. Prepare For Next Year: Shop After Christmas Sales!
The best way to help yourself save money for next year is to start shopping the day after Christmas. You should know now that the holidays are over, what exactly you will need for next year. Take advantage of the deals that will come after the holidays are over and store them away for next year. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to go out and buy those items at full price!
I hope these tips help save you some money this holiday season. I think we can all use a little savings this time of year!
Happy holidays! 🙂