Once upon a time, we barely had two pennies to rub together… And this is what I did to manage a Christmas we could afford.
Yes, I know Christmas is not all about the gifts, but quite honestly I LOVE giving gifts to people, so it’s something I think about and plan for quite early, especially when the budget is tight, because it’s important to me!
Even though we aren’t quite as strapped budget-wise anymore, I always feel like Christmas has just snuck up on me and I’m not quite ready for it! I realized that the same tricks I used to afford Christmas a few years ago, could be used to help me plan ahead now, and make Christmas a lot less stressful.
Christmastime is way more fun because I don’t stressing about getting EVERYTHING done in just 25 days.
If you’re like me, and trying to get ready early this year or just needing to budget starting NOW, here are some things you can do today so that Christmas doesn’t sneak up on you!
I’m a planner, so the very first thing I do is make a tentative plan. How much do I plan to spend this year? What are our priorities for budgeting? A couple things to think through:
- Traveling for Christmas, or staying home?
- Who all will be receiving gifts?
- What big-ticket things do your kids need that you could save for Christmas (think, bikes etc)
One thing you can do to reduce costs is talk with extended family about drawing names instead of every brother/sister/aunt/uncle buying something for every other person. Draw one name and get creative with how you choose to spoil that person in December and on Christmas day!
Alternatively, you could talk to the family about only having kids exchange gifts and adults could write letters to one another or have a big “adults only” meal together as a way of spending quality time with one another instead of making guesses about what some one might want for Christmas (that they don’t already have).
Christmas can be expensive, so now is the perfect time to start saving and budgeting too! I’ve found that planning ahead can save SO much money, and could even make Christmas be a free (or almost free) holiday this year! But you need to start now!
To start, you should definitely sign up for ebates right away. Ebates is one of those things I’d heard people talk about but never tried it myself until last year. Now I’m hooked!
It’s a totally free service, and it basically gives you cash back on the purchases you make in store and online. CRAZY!
This is such a huge way to save when you have to buy gifts big or small (I totally use it for back to school shopping too).
My favorite thing to do is use it when shopping at Kohl’s because you can get cashback from ebates AND Kohl’s cash, which ends up covering a LOT of your purchase.
They gave me $10 to share with new sign ups, so sign up here! I know you’ll love them as much as I do (Who doesn’t love free money?).
Next, you’ll want to sign up with swagbucks. A few years ago I tried a lot of online ways to earn gift cards and fell of the wagon with all of them except swagbucks. They are by far the easiest I’ve found to use, and I’ve gotten several free Christmas gifts for people simply by racking up points and using them on Target or Amazon gift cards!
There are a variety of ways to earn swagbucks, from searching on the internet, to watching fun music videos to more time consuming things like taking surveys. Even just using the search bar, I’m able to earn a decent size gift card every couple months!
You also earn swagbucks for shopping online, they give you a percentage back, so it’s like earning cash-back in a way. This comes in handy during the Christmas season most particularly because you can get a little extra back as you order gifts!
If you start saving those gift cards NOW, you could literally have a free Christmas this year! (You can get them to places like amazon.com, target and SO MANY more!
The next thing that can really help you save, is getting paid for all of the clothes your kids grew out of this Summer. I found this amazing company called ThredUp that makes it super easy.
You order “clean out kits” which they will send to you. These are huge bags you can stuff all yours and your kid’s outgrown or unused clothing in, then mail it back! The clean out kit comes to you with postage already covered, so all you have to do is drop it off at the post office, you don’t even pay shipping!
Then, they go through your bag and give you credit for everything they will keep to sell on their site. It’s a great way to clear out closets and easily make some of that money back.
If you’re like me, this is way easier than driving around with bags of things to donate in the trunk that you never quite take in.
When you sign up with this link you’ll also be given $10 credit immediately to use in their store (hello, school-clothes shopping) AND you can get a referral link so YOU can offer the same deal to your friends and get rewarded to it. Everybody wins!
Lastly, think about giving. How can your family be involved with charity and do something meaningful together this Christmas.
Maybe you set aside some money so you can donate to a local homeless shelter, or deliver presents to children in a local hospital, or even bring Christmas cookies to a nursing home!
Make a tentative plan now so you can make sure you follow all the rules and regulations that each charity might have, so your family can make it a priority to give back this holiday season!
Click below to get inspiration for 50 fun and FREE holiday traditions to start with your family!
How do you save for the holidays? Do you plan ahead?