I know I don’t have to remind you that Christmas is right around the corner, but I know that this is usually the time of year were we start falling into that “no-man’s land time vortex”. Where we start to no longer pay attention to things – like you stop paying attention to where your money is going and how you’re spending it. So I wanted to give a few helpful tips for sticking to your Christmas budget and stretching your spending money.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Just Santa does – make a list and check it twice. What I mean is, write down on a sheet of paper every person you plan to buy for this year. Do you plan to buy for co-workers? (It’s totally okay if you decide to not do this by the way.) Do you have nieces and nephews you plan to buy for? Do you and your siblings still give each other gifts?
Don’t allow those questions to give you anxiety. They are just meant to get you thinking. The reason you want to write down everyone that you need to buy for is so you can make a plan of ideas of what you want to buy. Why? Because having a plan not only reduces your level of anxiety but it also helps you know what to buy – you know what to say yes to and what to say no to. You’re going to be pounded with a ton of shopping deals in the weeks to come and by having a list of ideas of what you want to buy, you can easily say “yes! That’s the perfect deal on those fuzzy slippers I wanted to get for Blair!” or easily say, “Nope. Blair doesn’t need a new jewelry-making kit – she destroyed the last one so this deal doesn’t work for me.”
The purpose behind the list is that it provides clarity as we face the emotions of holiday spending. Trust me, marketers play on your emotions to get you to spend money. So it becomes very challenging to say no to things when you don’t have a clear plan of action.
Stretch Your Money
I’m a firm believer in making your money go as far as possible. So below are a few of my favorite tools for making that happen!
Ibotta is a cashback app that works by giving you cash back on certain things. For example last week, I was able to earn $2.50 back on our Butterball Turkey for Thanksgiving that I purchased at Aldi by taking advantage of the deal Ibotta had. How I use Ibotta is that before I go grocery shopping, I look for any deals at the store I’m shopping at through the app. If there are any deals for the items I’m planning to purchase, I will mark that item with a * on my grocery list. Then while I’m shopping, I’ll scan the barcode of that item and select that offer. Then after I’ve made my purchase, I’ll upload my receipt and collect those offers. I ended up earning over $6.00 back on my grocery shopping last week just by doing this! Head here for more details on Ibotta (they also have a free Thanksgiving meal offer right now at Walmart!).
I’ve been using Rakuten for a decade (they used to be called Ebates) and I still love them! Before I do any online shopping, I first go to Rakuten to see if there are any cashback offers available at the site I’m planning to purchase from. If there are, I’ll click on that store through Rakuten which will then take me to that online store. Then after I’ve made my purchase, the % cashback offer will pop up in my Rakuten account! And yes, this is actual cashback – not points. Head here to sign up (they have a $40 sign up bonus offer happening right now).
Swagbucks has been another longtime favorite of mine. I typically build up a ton of SBs during the year to cash out as gift cards in order to help stretch our Christmas budget every year. Now granted, you may not have enough time to build up enough SBs to cash out this Christmas, but if you start taking the surveys on Swagbucks today you’ll definitely have enough for next Christmas! Head here to check out Swagbucks.
Don’t be afraid to shop secondhand! For real! While on the debt-free journey, we past a yard sale that happened to have a Cozy Coupe for sale. It was old and dirty but we paid $5 for it and took it home to clean it and stored it in our neighbor’s garage until Christmas morning. Our boys were over the moon excited about it and didn’t mind that it was a $5 used toy. I use Thredup for the majority of my and my kids’ clothes. It’s a secondhand clothing retailer and I’ve already purchased my daughter’s Christmas dress and dress shoes and one of my son’s Christmas button-down shirts from Thredup! I spent $15 total on these items! If you have clothing to purchase for Christmas, I highly recommend you give Thredup a look! Head here to sign up for free.
Set a Limit and Stick to It
We have a max gift limit per child in our home. Our kids only get a max of 4 presents each. Some years they’ve gotten less – like when they got their trampoline for Christmas. Why set a limit? Because this helps make your decision making easier. It helps you to narrow down the list of ideas you made and decide what is truly important for Christmas and what isn’t. And let’s be honest – do you remember any Christmas gifts you received as a kid? Chances are you probably remember one or two special gifts but that’s probably it. The only gift besides the homemade chocolate candies my Nani and Papa would make and send us on Christmas that I remember getting was my dollhouse. I literally don’t remember a single other present. Not to mention, I want my kids’ Christmas to be filled with the true meaning of Christmas and family memories – not a bunch of stuff. Of course, your limit is totally up to you but I encourage you to set a limit that works for your family and then stick to it.
Buying for Multiple Nieces and Nephews
If you have several nieces and nephews to purchase for consider if you can instead of giving a gift individually, give a “family style” gift instead. So let’s say you have a total of 10 nieces and nephews that you want to buy for (notice I said, want and not have to – you get to decide who to buy for) but let’s say that’s spread out among three families. So, one family, there’s 2 kids, the other 3, and the other 5 kids. Instead of buying 10 individual gifts, buy 3 gifts they can use together as siblings. Like board games or outdoor games or even a big cooking project, they could do together. This can help stretch your budget as well as reduce your anxiety around having to come up with 10 perfectly tailored gifts. Not to mention, the parents of these kids will probably appreciate having less stuff floating around their home.
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