By being intentional and planning ahead, you can save a lot of money (and headache!) on Christmas. Follow these steps and you may save as much as $100 on Christmas this year, if not more:
1. Create a Budget
Yes, it’s kind of a no-brainer, but you can’t stick with your Christmas budget if you don’t have a budget in the first place. Sit down this weekend, if at all possible and look at your current expenditures and your income and decide what is a realistic budget amount to set aside for Christmas.
2. Start Saving
The sooner you can start setting aside money for Christmas, the better. Even if all you can manage to squeeze out of your budget is $3 to $5 each paycheck, start setting that aside in a separate fund. Do not allow yourself to touch it for any reason, except to purchase Christmas gifts.
We typically start planning for Christmas spending halfway through the year. Since we use a cash envelope system, we just start socking away most of our gift cash for Christmas. In addition, we also save up our Swagbucks Amazon gift cards to use for Christmas presents. And I keep my eyes open for other ways to earn free gift cards or products that would be good for gifting.
By the time December rolls around, I usually have a nice stash of gift cash plus gift cards to use for gifts and this becomes our Christmas budget. By doing it this way, we don’t have to dip into any of our regular savings or other money to pay for Christmas–we just have to plan ahead and then look for deals to stretch that money as far as possible.
Feeling strapped for cash this Christmas? Be sure to check out my 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas series for lots of ideas to help shore up your Christmas gift budget over the next few weeks.
3. Make a Plan
After you get your Christmas budget created and you’ve begun setting money aside, it’s time to start planning your gift list! Again, if you can do this early, you’ll have a huge advantage.
Why? Because when you see some amazing rock-bottom bargain deal that would be perfect for someone on your Christmas list, you can snatch it up then and there and cross that person off your list! Not only will you save a lot of money by starting your shopping early, but you’ll also feel so much more organized and relaxed going into December!
There’s a free printable Master Christmas Gift list here you can use to keep track of everyone you plan to buy for and what you’re planning to buy. If you prefer to keep a running total on a spreadsheet, you can download the Excel Christmas Budgeting Worksheet here to help you stay organized and stick with your budget.
4. Use Cash
If you’re at all tempted to go over your written Christmas budget, I highly recommend that you have a cash-only Christmas. Take the money you’ve allotted for your Christmas budget out of the bank in cash and then only use that money to pay for your Christmas gifts. This will force you to carefully evaluate each purchase to make sure it is the best use of your money and it will guarantee you don’t go over-budget.
Since many of the best deals are online, I suggest that you either use Paypal and refund the money to your bank account immediately from your cash envelope or take money from your cash envelopes and purchase gift cards for your online purchases. This is a bit more of a hassle, but it means you don’t have to worry about any staggering credit card bills come January!
5. Keep It Simple
Christmas should not be about impressing people with expensive gifts. If you’re going to give someone a gift, do it to bless them. Meaningful gifts don’t have to be extravagant and costly.
Consider giving experience gifts or handmade gifts as opposed to high-dollar items. Sometimes, the most remembered gifts are those that took time and thought, not money.
How do you save money on Christmas while still making it memorable?
The last one is my favorite. Oftentimes adults think kids need all these extravagant gifts, when the kids are fine with so much less. My daughters favorite gift she has ever gotten for Christmas was from her great grandmother, who is on a fixed budget, and it’s a portable tapletop easel with an art set (colored pencils, markers, and some coloring sheets). I think she found it on sale for about $7. This was a year ago and my daughter still uses it almost daily.
Judith Martinez says
If you use your cash to purchase gift cards at a grocery store with a gas rewards program you will get additional discounts on fuel!! Our Kroger store (King Soopers) offers 2x the points for gift card purchases all the time and runs specials during which they give you even more points. If you’re planning on spending $100 at Sears and use that money to buy a Sears gift card at the grocery store first you will get a 20 cent discount on each gallon of gas. I don’t have to tell anyone how much that helps the family budget!!
My son wants a bb gun (my inlaws are a big hunting family). My in laws found a really nice used one about a year ago and have been holding on to it until he is ready for it. He is getting it this year. I don’t think there is anything wrong with purchasing something used. They were probably able to get him something FAR nicer with the same amount of money. He will be SO excited. He won’t care if it is used or not, and to be honest if he found out he wouldn’t care AT ALL.
and never ever buy wrapping paper or bows, you can make them using recycled materials it may not be a huge money saver, but it can add up.
We’ve cut back on whom we buy for and the number of gifts we buy. In our household, I’m the one who does it all and now with 3 kids, it can be overwhelming.
My kids get 2-3 gifts each plus their stocking. My baby’s birthday is Christmas Eve, and we can’t forget that either!
To save money, I buy what I can on amazon.com- I add items to a wish list and buy when they drop in price. At Meijer, I recently combined a whole bunch of promotions- sale plus Veteran’s Day mPerks plus a 15% off coupon from their holiday gift book. As a result, I got a bracelet, pair of sterling silver earrings, a hat, and a shrinky dinks kit for my 7 year old; pajama pants, 2 Lego sets for my 3 year old; 2 pairs of pajamas, snow pants, mittens for my baby- plus a bunch of holiday groceries for under $100.
I had amazon.com credit from swagbucks and from participating in a healthy living program offered by our insurance company ($75).
Sometimes you need to think outside the box of stores to shop at to get the best price. Meijer has groceries but it also has Legos, Razor scooters, etc.
In all, here’s what we’re giving:
To my DH- I will give him a stocking with his favorite treats and a new pair of pj pants.
ODD (age 7)- she gets 2 Lego sets and a stocking that includes a battery operated toothbrush, toothpaste, a chapter book, socks, a few candy canes, and chocolate covered pretzels (her favorite treat).
DS (age 3) – he gets a Lego set, an art set, and a stocking with essentially the same as ODD.
YDD (will be 1 on Christmas Eve) – she gets a handmade quilt made of her receiving blankets that I commissioned my friend to sew. Her stocking will have some small soft dolls and a board book.
Me- Yes I make a stocking for me too 🙂 I will put in it some of my favorite treats that I don’t buy any other time of the year. Mostly chocolate covered anything!! 🙂
My two nieces- each getting art supplies I purchased on sale/clearance.
My ILs- will get framed photographs of my kids.
My parents- will get framed photographs of my kids.
We don’t exchange with our siblings (my only sister is severely handicapped; DH has two sisters who are both married).
Teachers- ODD’s teacher will get school supplies and a Starbucks giftcard.
Toy drive- I picked up 8 Nerf toys for free plus one teddy bear for free to add to the community toy drive.
This is my absolute new favorite blog.
This Christmas my daughter will be 2! I am focusing less on presents and more on making her Christmas experience memorable and enjoyable. Most of my budget is on crafting and baking fun things with her. So I set only a 10 dollar gift max per extended family member. I got on Shutterfly and ordered personalized mugs with my daughter’s pictures for every grandparent, aunt, and uncle. They are all on sale right now for $9.93. Plus I got free shipping! I’ll fill each one with samples teas and chocolates. I can’t wait for them all to get them and I know they’ll love it because they love her!
We save cash for Christmas all year long and then about the end of October I begin to shop. The money is there and we do not have to worry about it which is good since our family is getting larger every year.