One thing we don’t look forward to after Christmas is paying off the gifts that were purchased for Christmas. Hopefully many of us can say we don’t have that credit card bill after the holidays, but unfortunately a lot of people do. Here are 7 tips to save money for Christmas that have helped our family so we don’t have to pay off Christmas items after the holidays. And many of these tips you can begin doing now even though the holidays are coming up quickly.
1. Set a budget
Determine how much money you are going to spend on Christmas, and set a budget. To figure out how much you’ll spend, look back and calculate how much you spent last Christmas. That should give you an idea of what you think you’ll spend this year. It might also help you realize that you spent more than you planned and that you need to cut back on some Christmas items or presents this year. But when setting a budget, be sure not to set it too tight because it’s nice to have a little wiggle room for last minute purchases. And don’t forget to include in your budget the extras such stocking stuffers, Christmas cards, and holiday home decorations.
2. Begin Saving Now
After you’ve determined how much you think you’ll need, then break it down into how much you need to set aside each month to reach that goal. If it seems like there is no way you can set aside that much money each month, especially since the holidays are in a few months, then at least set aside something. You’ll have some money saved that will help out toward some of the holiday purchases for this year. You may also want to re-evaluate the amount and price of gifts you are purchasing for others. And look to see if there are areas in your holiday shopping that you could cut back on so you have enough money for the most important purchases.
Last year, I made it a point to set aside $50 every month for the entire year and place it into a “Christmas” envelope. There were some months that were tight and we had extra bills to pay, so I wasn’t able to put aside money each month, but by the end of the year, we were able to save $500 for our Christmas fund. It was nice to be able to pay for our Christmas items as we purchased them. And what’s even better is that with the money we didn’t spend, we put it toward our goals of paying down our mortgage and increasing our savings.
I realize this year you might not be able to save as much as you want, but save what you can now, then starting January try out the Christmas envelope budgeting technique so you can get a head start on next year’s Christmas.
3. Create a Christmas List
Write down who you are giving gifts to this year. Then decide how much you’re willing to spend on each person depending on how much you’ve budgeted and were able to save. If you don’t have enough money to cover all the people on your holiday list, then go through the list again and cut names or the amount you’ll spend on them.
Be sure to group people together on your list for whom you may purchase the same gift. You might be able to get a volume discount on the gifts or you might be able to save on gas and your time by shopping at one store for multiple gifts.
On my side of the family, I have five siblings. I can’t image the amount of money I would spend each Christmas if I were to purchase gifts for all of my siblings and their children. Instead, what we do each year is rotate names so each of us is just buying for one sibling and their family. I love all of my siblings and their families, but it’s nice to keep Christmas more simple and less stressful by doing it this way, and then my Christmas list isn’t out of control.
4. Shop for Sales Now
You don’t have to wait until the holidays to start purchasing items and checking off your list. Once you’ve compiled your list, then you can begin to shop for the items right now as they go on sale or as you see a really good deal. Be sure to always comparison shop before you purchase an item on sale, and be sure to not buy anything without checking for discounts first. If there is an item that’s on sale but it’s not on your list, even though we all love sales, be sure the money you are spending to purchase the item is in your budget.
Additionally, shopping right now will help you to avoid impulse last-minute buys, frenzied shoppers, and not finding what you need because its out-of-stock.
5. Cut Back on Extras
Sometimes I find myself spending more than I should on items because it’s the holiday season. However, constant spending on “extras” such as that photo with Santa or a new outfit for that holiday party can really eat away your budget. Before you splurge, make sure that it’s really worth the price.
6. Know When to Stop
When you’ve purchased all of the items on your list, then stop shopping! And once you are done, avoid heading out to the stores just to see what they have and what’s on sale. This can lead to poorly planned purchases and overspending your budget.
7. Remember the Reason for the Season
Keep a Christ-centered Christmas by keeping the spiritual message front and center. This will help during the holiday season so you don’t feel you have to buy items to give out to friends and family. You don’t have to spend money to give a gift. Some of the best gifts are intangible such as offering to watch a friend’s children or baking cookies as a gift for a neighbor. It doesn’t cost much, but the gift is priceless. And one of the best gifts you can give your family during the holidays is to spend time with them rather than running around purchasing gifts and holiday items.
It’s easy to get caught up in the spending cycle during the holidays, but if you have a plan and set a budget, then you don’t need to worry about overspending and racking up a credit card bill that won’t be fun to pay off in January. For our family, it’s made Christmas a lot less stressful when we save for Christmas starting in January. I know it’s sometimes difficult to come up with extra money each month because there is always something that you want or need to buy, but it will be worth it to prioritize and start saving money now for Christmas.
Below are some frugal Christmas gift ideas that you can make for family, friends, or neighbors during the holidays:
How do you save money for the holidays?