I’m realizing yet again, for this is not a new thought, that I over spend every single holiday because I have a little girl. Each holiday presents me with options for innumerable options of fancy dresses, shoes, baskets, little gift ideas, big gift ideas, decor and fluff, matching outfits, new bows, fancy card stock, portraits and a multitude of snap shots…it goes and goes…a new plush. I take the bait every single time!
So, after going hog wild for Halloween, (because Christmas and Halloween are my favorite holidays) I am trying to review my previous Christmas spending and to learn from it. I’ll be posting a Halloween DIY and recap soon! Back to Christmas, I remember it like it was yesterday when I practically emptied my bank account to buy presents for over thirty people and hosted and decorated. Every year, I look back on my spending and regret it and wish I had been more conscious because if we are not awake when we are dealing with such important issues such as money, then we are harming ourselves truly.
So, as we gear-up for a wonderful holiday, I plan to relish it’s simplicity and minimize my spending. Sometimes rules like: I will purchase gifts for the people that I will see and spend the holiday with are helpful in terms of reducing the spending. Or drawing names can be great with large groups or even white elephant level gifting for a serious reduction in spending. The big questions for me that comes to mind every year is: “how can I still acknowledge the people I won’t see without over doing my budget?” Getting some sort of home baked goodie or homemade ornaments always feels special and enjoyable. Or, artwork from a little one could be ways to still have a presence under a tree for people far away.
Here are a few tips for saving around the holidays:
- Use your coupons! I got a $10 Ace reward in the mail…sure enough, I sent my husband out to the hardware store with it in hand the next time he went. This is one way I stay conscious. See the gifts, the free money, the opportunity to reduce spending as it is right under your nose.
- Learn from your mistakes. I’m sure we all can look back on our Christmas spending in previous years and see many areas for concern. Really make a list of what you want to do differently this year and stick to it. We don’t have to wait until January 1st to wake-up and make life changes. Most of those early year resolutions are fleeting and ephemeral anyhow, spreading them out over the year would be much more effective.
- Buy your Christmas cards now! Do your homemade or professional photo shoots asap. Most of the card deals are going on now. It’s when we get closer that expedited shipping and costs rise. I even thought hold up a Christmas sign and take a family pic with a friend, you could probably spend .20 cents a print on a 4×6 image and get away with a photo card on the cheap cheap cheap!!! Wouldn’t look too bad and stuff a red envelope with something cheerful, holly or something?, et voila! Maybe even stamp a monogram on the envelope with your family letter. Thinking outside the box is always fun.
- Shop early to avoid the mad dash and the last minute sales. I’m trying to find a way to have that excitement of buying things in December but not be so last minute with my shopping. I’m thinking all stockings, wrapping of presents, and one last minute present could be done in mid December. I hope to have most of it done in late November. Maybe shift your Christmas spirit consumed with consumerism to doing a good deed, buying for a family in need, caroling and ornament making or baking to fulfill that ever present Christmas buzz.
- Use your returns, coupons and store credits for Christmas if you can think that far in advance. I have two huge baskets from Target to return. I plan to take the immediate savings to purchase a big ticket item for my daughter’s Christmas present. I love when I can take money that sort of came out of no where and use it in a practical way. It’s just so easy to make $80 disappear on tiny little purchases and pointless things. I want it to count so I’m going to think big picture.
- Checkout holiday decor at the Discount Grocery Outlet. Again, my favorite topic. The Grocery outlet saves my life. Every time I shop there it helps solidify my status as a stay-at-home mom. I save hundreds of dollars a month and free-up money for fun or savings. Well, they also have an extensive Christmas section, with wrapping paper and cute candy cane lights for really low prices. Just throwing that out there because I can’t get enough of that store. Just check every single expiration date and buy companies you know, and you’re in business for $3 cheaper on each item. No joke! Sometimes more.
- Start a Christmas Savings box now. I plan to put all discretionary cash into this box. I sell things on local sites and that petty cash can be put to good use if I can keep my hands on it. My goal is that I can either buy my Christmas tree this year or one big ticket item from this box. That would be a fun achievement!
- Do something important, give to those in need! So, Operation Christmas Child is this wonderful organization giving to children in need. They get a shoe box filled with toys, or school supplies, etc. and pictures of your family and wonderful things for Christmas. This not only fills someone else with joy on the holiday but helps your child to connect to the world at large and to care for others. This makes such a strong impression on all who participate; my fabulous MOPS group plans to wrap them all together, to help encourage the children to see the big picture – which is a room full of mothers and children taking care of other people one gift at a time. I can’t wait to participate!
- Always make something with your little ones to cherish each year. Make homemade ornaments, hand prints and footprints with tots, salt dough ornaments, gingerbread houses, and fun crafts. This is a fun and special cheap way to celebrate the holiday season together and of course, get them involved in all the decorating of the tree and household. I like to add about 5 bought ornaments to the tree each year and then many homemade ones. This just helps to grow the sentimentality of the holiday.
Merry making! Enjoy a conscious holiday with goals and ideas shaping what feels right for your family and what you’re capable of contributing. Be true to yourself!