When you’re a young family trying to make ends meet, holiday shopping can sometimes be stressful. You want to give great gifts to your friends and loved ones but you can’t afford breaking the bank to do it. This year since we’re only a few months away from welcoming our second little girl, we’re trying to be very frugal. Below are just a few ways we’re keeping costs down and saving money this holiday season.
Make a budget
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and overspend. I found this to be the case when I was younger and had much more disposable income. Now that I have a household to run, I have to be more frugal. I set a budget for each person I will be buying for and I don’t go more than $5 over budget for anyone. It’s difficult to accomplish, especially when you have more than one great present idea for someone, but it’s one of the key factors to saving money during the holiday season.
Finish your shopping early – preferably by Thanksgiving.
One of the best things I read this season was that the best gift you could give your family this season was getting your shopping done early. I am a procrastinator by nature so this was definitely hard for me but I was able to do it. Now I know every catalogue or coupon I get can go directly to the trash. I’m not swayed by last minute shopping and the tricks they play during Christmas time to get you to spend more. It also made my purchases less impulse and more deliberate. I spent more time thinking and preparing what I wanted to give.
Once your shopping is done, throw out catalogues and coupons
I thankfully finished my shopping by Thanksgiving. And I find that every day I’m receiving coupons or catalogues in the mail trying desperately to get me to shop at their store. I’ve gotten into the habit of not looking at any catalogues or coupons once my shopping is done. I’m prone to persuasion and a cute outfit on a trendy catalogue or deep discounts can get me feeling like I can’t pass up a great opportunity. But if you hold fast to your budget and avoid the temptation, you’ll be doing yourself and your checking account a great favor.
Use brown craft paper for wrapping paper
This has been the best thing I’ve done for myself this past year. I tend to never have the right size gift bag or right themed wrapping paper. I ultimately have to drive to the local CVS and overspend getting perfectly themed wrapping paper, adding $10 to the total price of my gift. Instead of repeating this vicious cycle, last year I bought a $35 roll of brown craft paper and I use it to wrap almost 95% of my gifts. Here’s an example of what I bought – Boardwalk Kraft Paper (30″ x 765ft). Craft paper gives a nice blank slate for decorating too. Pinterest has great ideas for decorating your craft paper presents.
Stocking stuffers don’t need to be elaborate or fancy
Go to your dollar store to stock up on often used items like antibacterial lotion, tissues, crayons, etc. I still remember the first year my husband got stocking stuffer presents from my parents and he received twine. He looked at me like they were nuts. But 2 years down the line, it’s the most handy item in our junk drawer and I know it cost my mother about a dollar at the local dollar store.
Use sites like FatWallet and Slickdeals
I recently came across these sites and I was so happy I did. Not only do the forums highlight great deals but they also have coupon threads for every big box store. If you’re like me and shop online more often than you go to the mall, these sites will make sure you never place an online order without a coupon code. I recently found a code for 20% off that I wouldn’t have used if I didn’t know about the site.
How is everyone’s shopping going so far? I hope these tips help you keep the shopping season, and your budget, under control!