If your finances are reeling after yet another spendy Christmas, take these 5 steps to prevent the same stress next year. The time to plan for Christmas is now.
1. Make a list of your gift recipients. Realizing that your list will likely change throughout the year, you can still get a good visual of how many gifts you need and who you’ll need to buy for. Keep this information handy, perhaps in a home management binder.
2. Set your Christmas gift-giving budget. If you’re in the “I have no idea what I’m going to spend until I spend it” camp, start by looking over your receipts (or gift list) from last Christmas. Make a solid estimate and pad it a little if you want some wiggle room, but stick to that number.
3. Start saving now. Don’t let January turn to March turn to September turn to December and we have no money in our budget for Christmas! Divide your total gift giving budget by 12 and set aside that money each month in an envelope, a Christmas Club account, or whatever works for you. Here’s a hint: If you find it difficult to save 1/12 of your Christmas budget per month, it’s set too high. Cut back!
4. Sign up for Swagbucks and download the toolbar. Using this free search engine earns you points that can be redeemed for gift cards. I used tons of Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks to do a lot of my shopping last year, easing our out-of-pocket expenses. With your own internet searching you could easily earn a $5 Amazon card per month, but if you refer your friends, your swagbucks savings will add up much faster.
5. Shop throughout the year, keeping an eye on clearance sales. I started my bargain hunting last week, taking advantage of the amazing DaySpring 75% off after-Christmas clearance. This shopping strategy may not work for everyone on your list, but it’s perfect for grab bag items, teacher gifts, and stocking stuffers. We keep a “gift box” in our basement, full of deeply-discounted items to use for kids’ birthday parties, baby showers, and Christmas.
Christmas shopping does not have to strain your budget and your holiday cheer. Plan ahead for a peaceful, well-spent Christmas!
What steps do you take to prevent over-spending at Christmas?
This post is linked to Frugal Friday.
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