Guest post by Misty from The Frugal Family
I know, it’s 75 degrees today. The corn stalks are swaying and it’s not even really fall yet! But, if you’re a smart shopper, you’re going to start early!
Take it from me. My husband and I buy gifts for about 35 people and any of those people get multiple gifts from us. Yes, I know, it’s insane. Good thing I know how to shop, huh?
Here are a few things I do each year to get started:
1. Make a complete list of everyone you buy for.
If you don’t make a list, you’re going to end up with several people you forgot on December 23rd and you’re going to have to run out and find something, most likely paying more than if you had strategically planned. Don’t forget Sunday school teachers, classroom teachers, the mail man, or the paper delivery guy. Those are the ones that sneak up on me!
2. On the list of all the people you buy for, plan out gift ideas.
It never fails. My dad and father-in-law are the hardest people to buy for. Every year Andy and I scratch our heads trying to decide what to buy. This year we already have gift ideas on the list next to their names. That way, if we come across something that’s a great deal and it’s on our list, we can scratch it off!
3. Keep your list with you.
Who knows when you might be in the mall and find a clearance section that has items at 75% OFF! “Wait, did I already get him a gift or not? I can’t remember…” This is why you carry your list with you. If you find a great deal, you can just pull it out and you’ll know if you need to purchase the item or not.
I used to be bad about this. I would pick up things throughout the year for my nieces and then it would be time to wrap gifts and they’d have 10 gifts because I forgot all the other little things I’d picked up for them here and there. Keep a list, keep it with you, and keep it up to date.
4. Don’t be afraid to cut back.
This was a huge problem for me. I love giving people gifts. It’s honestly one of my favorite things to do so I hated the thought of not spending as much as I used to on the people that I loved. I had to realize these things:
- Not everyone expects expensive gifts.
- When you buy someone an expensive gift they often feel like they have to buy you an expensive gift which they can’t always do. It can make them have to spend more than they needed to.
- You can still give fantastic gifts by shopping smart.
- There are many gifts you can give that are free or almost-free! Look for free Photo Gifts, Canvas Prints, Photo t-shirts, calendars, and more. And, you can always give the gift of service. There aren’t many moms that would rather have a candle or body spray over free babysitting for a night.
5. Give gifts of time.
Like I just mentioned above, giving of your time is costs you nothing out of pocket. You can always make a nice gift certificate on the computer and give free babysitting, lawn care, baked goods, house cleaning, and more. The ideas are endless.
6. Start saving now.
If you have craft skills, find some local fall festivals and sell your goods there. You can sell things you make on Etsy or Ebay. You could also give sewing, piano, or music lessons if you’re good at what you do.
Another idea is to take surveys and earn cash or gift certificates. I did this last year (surveys) to make extra Christmas money and ended up with several Amazon Gift Certificates in return which helped to save me money on Christmas gifts! I’ve also sold hair bows and chocolate popcorn at local vendor fairs to make extra cash.
7. Watch the ads.
Last year I was able to score several (seven, if I’m remembering right) Milton Bradley board games for around $1.20 each after coupons and rebates. Keep your eyes open. Deals like these will come and you need to be ready to grab them!
Misty is a wife and stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to her three small children. She loves, loves, loves to save money and get a good deal! Misty has a great desire to serve God and finds joy in sharing her money-saving tips and the deals she finds on her blog, The Frugal Family.
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