This year I managed something that I have never been able to do before. I paid for Christmas in cash! No looming credit card debt this year. Its a beautiful thing. On top of that, my son has an early December birthday and we managed to pay cash for that too. I know so many of us get bogged down with debt trying to make everything perfect for everyone during the holidays. I know I have year after year. So I will share how on Earth I managed it, in hopes maybe these tips will help someone else in the future.
Everyone says this every year and this is the first time in my life that I listened. I started in October. Knowing that we had a birthday and Christmas coming, and 5 paychecks between October 1st and December 25th, I wanted to be prepared.
This is huge for me. I like to know everyone I need to buy Christmas presents for well in advance. Planning ahead of the big shopping rush can be a huge money and time saver. I make a list of who I need to buy gifts for, set a spending limit, and then stick to it.
SET A LIMIT
Its easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving and finding that perfect gift for everyone. Its equally as easy to get caught up in the “so & so bought 5 Christmas presents for each kid, so I have to too. DON’T! Set a limit that you can afford and stick to it.
During the holiday season, every day is a new “biggest” sale at every store in the country. The amount of SPAM email you receive will be almost overwhelming. Luckily, these things can be an asset. Once I had a plan for what I needed to buy and for whom, I spent time clicking through store websites and comparing prices and sales. This saved me tons of cash in the long run.
Sign up for this. Whenever possible, make purchases online, through the app, and earn the cash back. It adds up fast, especially this time of year when there is so much shopping to be done. Stores offer anywhere from 1% – 10% back on purchases. Also if you are worried about shipping time or cost, many stores offer the option to purchase online and pickup in-store locally. No shipping fees or delays during the busy Christmas season
If you have young children, they honestly don’t know the difference between new-in-box or gently used. This saved me a ton this year. Example: My 3 year old got super into Toy Story. I wanted to get him some of the toys for Christmas because I knew he’d flip. But to get Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Jessie in store was going to cost me $90! Eek! I put feelers out on swap sites local to me. (I do swap sites because I am sketched out by Craigslist. At least with Facebook swap pages I can see the profile of who I am dealing with) I got all 3 character dolls, plus Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head for $30…TOTAL. MOM WIN! But please, always use caution when meeting someone for swap or sale. I recommend not going alone and meeting in public, preferably a police station parking lot.
DON’T FALL FOR THE FAD
Many people wont agree with me on this. At least not until they get burned. Christmas 2017 was the year of the Fingerling Monkeys. Moms and Dads were making themselves nuts to try and get their hands on these. People were paying double and triple what the retail cost was. And come Christmas morning, a majority of these were played with for 5 minutes and forgotten. Some moms even reported their children didn’t even open the package. These fad items happen year after year and they are rarely worth the hype. Spare yourself the nervous breakdown and don’t fall into this trap set by retailers and toy manufacturers. Your child WILL LIVE if they don’t get a Furby, a Fidget Spinner, an LOL Ball, a Super Nintendo (sorry, channeling my childhood) or whatever the “It” toy is.
You’ll notice I didn’t address Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I have worked in retail, and I no longer support these things. You can. More power to you. But you wont catch me there.
What are your money saving tips and tricks during the holidays?