Have you saved anything for Christmas gift-giving yet? Although some people save for Christmas all year long, if you’re just now thinking about it, it’s really not too late. In fact, there is plenty of time to plan and execute a cash-only, debt-free Christmas. Check out these tips.
Plan Your Christmas Budget
A Christmas budget is simple to do. On a sheet of paper or even a spreadsheet, you’ll need these three columns:
- the people you will be gifting
- ideas for gifts
- an amount you will not exceed for each person
Draw Names: Need to trim your list already? One idea is to draw names, setting a maximum price for everyone to adhere to. Whether it’s a big family, church group, or office co-workers, most people appreciate the simplicity and affordability of drawing names. For coaches, teachers, and scout leaders, ask all the parents to donate a minimum amount and purchase a gift card to a favorite restaurant or department store.
Timing is Everything
Some presents can’t be last-minute. For example, there are usually several photo book deals available, and there will be at Christmastime too. But to create something really great in a photo gift, you need a little time. You have more time now than when the craziness of the holiday season arrives! I love to give the grandparents photo books of their grand-kids. When I put my all into creating one, I can easily click on “quantity” and multiply that work into presents for grandparents, aunts, and uncles (and me, too). Also:
- Start taking advantage of daily deals now. Check out the deals at Groupon, Living Social, Zulily, and more. The daily deals these sites offer are like Black Friday on a daily basis.
- Edible homemade gifts. If you like giving baked goods or drink mixes (See my Cranberry Pumpkin Bread, Hot Cocoa Mix and Vanilla Chai Tea Mix) as gifts, make a list now of the food items you will be needing and be on the lookout for coupons and sales in order to put these together for the lowest possible price. i.e.) cranberry sauce, flour, powdered creamer…
Collecting Cash Now
Sacrifice Simple Pleasures for Big Savings. If you give up your daily Starbucks, you’ll save around $3.50/day. That adds up to over $200 by Black Friday. I’m not saying, don’t drink coffee—I love my coffee! But how about if you take a little extra time every morning to brew your own? Get all the goodies you need on sale and with coupons, and you’ll be surprised how good it is. (Try my Homemade Vanilla Latté recipe.)
Fall Yard ale/Consignment Sales. Now is the time to clean out those closets and have a yard sale or consign. Fall consignment sales are popping up all over the place. Get your kids gently used clothes and toys together and put the money you make in your Christmas fund.
Pantry Challenge. Take a week to skip going to the grocery store except for your dairy and produce items. Eat from your pantry and freezer, and use the rest of your grocery budget to jumpstart your Christmas savings. You may find that you have enough in your stockpile to go for two weeks.
Coupon for the Next Three Months. If you’re not into couponing on a regular basis, try it for the next three months. Put everything you save back for Christmas.
Wait. Put off major purchases until after the holidays. If it can wait until after Christmas, let it.
Prioritize. Cut out all the things in your budget that can go.
- Are you still using the gym membership?
- Could you do without those movie channels?
- Do you really need your land line phone?
What are you paying for that you are not using? Cut out the nonessential items. If you’ve never done a budget, then look at your bank statement. What expenditures are showing up that you do not need or want anymore?
Do a Monthly Budget. Really, a budget is not a bad thing, I promise! It just tells you where your money is going. When you know where it is going, you can redirect it. Before I did a budget, my money was going places I didn’t want it to go. But after getting a budget in place, I became intentional about where it was going. You can, too. This year, you can have a debt-free Christmas!
What tips and tricks do you have to save money for Christmas? I would love to hear your ideas and comments.