Thursday, December 11, 2014

10 Ways to Save Money During the Christmas Season

I know many of us have already bought most of our gifts, but this time of year can be so stressful trying not to spend too much money and still find the right presents for everyone. I know we all love giving gifts to one another, so even with all the pressure, here are a few tips to save money during this time of year!

1. Set a budget and make sure to stick to it. We used Dave Ramsey's Christmas Budgeting tool that can be found here! It lets you put the amount of money you plan to spend on each person, and then you add the gifts and the exact amount you spend. You can also check them off your list as you go, which was is nice for us because we knew who we have left to buy or make gifts for still.

2. Coupon codes and free shipping are key! Those two things are very prevalent around the holiday season. Working in retail, I learned that there is almost always a coupon code. Google the shop, and look at "RetailMeNot" and sites like that! Free shipping is also important! If you're shopping online especially, make sure and look for the sites that offer free shipping. It will save you a bundle! We use Amazon Prime, and it saves us so much during the holiday season. It basically pays for itself at that point!

3. Making gifts saves a ton of money and makes it so much more personal! I love websites like these that offer so many suggestions. Pinterest has been a life saver for me, and through it, I found all the gifts for my friends that I'm really excited to make. You might have to spend a little up front on supplies, but you will save money in the end!

4. This one may sound weird, but if you are not done with Christmas shopping, it does pay to wait until the end. The last week of Christmas is when ALL of the stores are offering their lowest prices, both online and in-store. They are trying to meet goals, rid themselves of inventory, etc., and they will keep marking down their merchandise until it's gone. So, if you can handle the stress, it will be worth it in the end! At "Toys R Us," where I used to work, all of my co-workers would buy gifts the last week because we knew it would be on sale for the lowest price it was going to be. It pays to wait sometimes!

5. Use sites like "Ebates" and "Shop Discover" (if you have a Discover card). If you are shopping online, going through those sites for stores that offer cash back will add that amount back on to your credit card or through some other form of payment that you agree on. You would be surprised at the amount of stores that offer cash back bonuses, too! You literally get paid to shop for items you were already going to buy!

6. Worrying about spending your entire paycheck and not having enough for bills? Cash the amount of your paycheck you can afford to spend on Christmas gifts and place that amount in a mason jar or envelope. Then only use that amount! I did this one Christmas while shopping around at stores, and since I knew how much I had left, I didn't go over! It really does work. You only spend what you have whereas with a credit card, it's a lot easier to go over the amount you allocated!

7. Since Christmas only comes once a year, and the feeling of giving is amazing, cut back somewhere else to leave a little money for buying gifts. Instead of eating out once a week like you usually do, make a meal with things you have in your pantry. Save money by watching a movie in instead of going to the theater. The little savings add up. :)

8. Hosting a holiday party? You don't have to do it or buy it all yourself! Have a potluck instead, and have each guest bring a dish. It will cut costs and still allow for a great time! Plus, decorating is fun, but you don't have to go overboard. Decorate the most important areas (the living room, the front area, and the dining room table) and don't worry so much about the rest.

9. Enjoy the Christmas season yourself! Don't get caught up in all the stress. My husband doesn't look forward to Christmas sometimes because there can be so much stress with it all. He loves it once we are all organized and are enjoying it, though. Go out and do some free or low-cost Christmas activities. Drive around and look at the lights. Check out more holiday date suggestions here! 

10. Prioritize your Christmas list. Have tons of people to buy for and don't know how you're going to manage it all? Buy for your family first and close friends second. Then, if the money is tight, bake something instead for the rest of the people on your list: neighbors, teachers, etc. They will appreciate the gesture no matter what!

Extra tip: I'm sure most everyone has ordered their Christmas cards already, but if you haven't, design them yourself this year! Photo cards are so much fun, and you can design them on PicMonkey, Photoshop, etc., easily! Just add a photo and some text, and then upload it to sites like Costco Photos, Vistaprint, or Shutterfly for some great deals!

Enjoy the holidays, and don't stress too much! Remember the true reason for the season, and enjoy the act of giving to your family and friends. They will love you no matter what!

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Your comments make my day! I look forward to hearing from you! -Gen

Much Love!

Much Love!