Is it just me or does it feel like the month of October is just flying by? Somehow we got super busy and I don’t even know how that’s possible! I can’t believe that Halloween is a week away!
And if you’re like me and you’re trying to get a head start on buying Christmas stuff I wanted to share with you a few of the tools that I’ve used over the years to help me keep our Christmas spending in check.
1. Christmas Sinking Fund
If you don’t already have a Christmas Sinking Fund set up – do it now! It makes saving for Christmas all year long so much easier and takes the stress and hassle out of trying to figure out how much you can spend on Christmas. The best part, you’ll be able to pay cash for Christmas! Now granted, we’re super close to Christmas this year so you may not be able to save as much as you want for this year’s Christmas but you’ll at least have it in place so you can save for next year’s Christmas! Head here to learn more about setting up a Christmas Sinking Fund.
2. Shop thrift or consignment stores.
Most of the clothes my kids have are either hand-me-downs or were purchased at consignment stores or thrift shops. Very rarely do I purchase for them brand new clothes. The same goes for me. Very few pieces of my own clothing are brand new. Usually, if I’m looking for clothes for my kids, I’ll first check out ThredUp (an online consignment shop) to see if they have anything in the range of what I’m looking for. I make a list of the clothing items my kids need like pajamas, a new dress for church for Charlotte, new jeans for my boys, etc. Then I start looking. I’ve found that if I try to look for clothing deals without a list I’m tempted to buy all.the.cute.things. So make a list and check it twice!
3. I earn cashback when I shop online.
If I’m purchasing stuff online I will check both, Swagbucks and Rakuten for cashback offers at the various online stores I plan to shop. Example: if I’m getting ready to purchase our Christmas cards from Shutterfly, I’ll first check to see what cashback offers Swagbucks and Rakuten have. Right now (as of this writing), Swagbucks is offering 1% back in the form of “SBs” which is points that can be redeemed for gift cards. Rakuten though is offering 10% cashback from Shutterfly (and it’s actual cash – not points). Clearly, I would use Rakuten in this example as it’s the better deal. All I would do is click on Shutterfly on the Rakuten website which would then take me to Shutterfly’s website. Then I’d order my Christmas cards and done! Rakuten tracked the purchase and in a few days, I’ll see the cashback in my Rakuten account.
4. Make a list.
Okay, I’ve already mentioned this in number two but I really need to mention it again. Make a list. Write down everyone you need to purchase a Christmas gift for. Coworkers, spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, kids, nieces or nephews, etc. Write them all down. Then write down gift ideas for each one of them. This doesn’t mean you need to buy them every single thing on your list but it helps keep you in check when shopping so you don’t fall into that, “oh Julie would love this! Oh and so would Sheila! Oh and I can’t forget about Jamella!” trap. Sometimes we get super excited and caught up in the fun of Christmas shopping that we end up wrecking our budgets long before Christmas day comes. To avoid that, make a list and either stick it in your purse/wallet or have it typed up on your phone. And most importantly – CHECK IT. In fact, do like Santa and check it twice.
5. Don’t sink into debt.
So it’s been years since I shopped for Christmas with a credit card, but I still understand how tempting it is to save some extra moola by opening up that store charge card. Just recently (as in this week….) I was on Kohl’s website because I really want this new pair of shoes (that currently isn’t in the budget but I’m a girl that loves her shoes…). They were on sale and so was this really cute top and so was this super cute dress….you know where I’m going with this. I totally fell down the rabbit hole of adding a bunch of stuff I didn’t need (and didn’t have in my budget) to my online shopping cart. Then popped up with “save an extra 35% on this purchase when you open a Kohl’s credit card”.
Not going to lie to you. I was super tempted. It’s been 7 years since I’ve had a credit card and here I was tempted to open up a store card so I could save 35%. Friend, I share this because the temptation is real and it will never go away. Don’t assume that because my family is debt-free that temptation doesn’t ever hit us because it does. I ended up closing my laptop and went for a run instead.
6. It’s okay if this Christmas isn’t what you want.
Our family’s first debt-free Christmas, I threw myself a major pity party (read the full blog post here). It was because our Christmas didn’t look like how I wanted it to. It’s important to know that’s okay – if your Christmas isn’t what you expected it to be that’s okay.
If the budget is tight and you can’t buy/do all that you usually do during the holidays that is 100,000% okay. Say it again. “It’s okay that my Christmas doesn’t look like I planned it to be.” Make the most out of this season – it’s just a season. Next year’s Christmas can look different. Write down things you can do in the year between now and next year’s holiday season to change how next year’s Christmas looks. And remember friend, Christmas is not about gifts around the tree or all the holiday baking and traveling you do.
I hope that this Christmas fills your family with joy!
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