Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

Too early to start you say?  Not at all!  I start buying stuff in the after Christmas sale from the year before.  The reality is I, like most people, am on a budget for Christmas.  I want to be able to buy nice things.  If you spend $20 on junk you've wasted $20.  My favorite bargain purchase from last year was a necklace that  was originally $100 and in between Black Friday (more to come about that day later) and a coupon it cost $20.  That was a truly great bargain, however, if I'd let the woman talk me into buying one for myself it wouldn't have been the same bargain. :)  I had decided on a $2o limit per person so I was thrilled.  I'm not militant at keeping to the exact number per person - but I really strive to not go over the overall budget.  

This post I'll discuss steps one and two and some general money saving tips.

Step One: Set a budget


Total: $430
For gifts: $405
For decorations: $20 - I saved everything from previous years, but I'd like to buy some disposable plates, napkins, or other odds and ends.
For cards and wrapping needs: $5 - hopefully I have enough left over from last year to only have to make minimal purchases in this area
Food: $0 I plan on fitting this into my regular food budget

Starting two months in advance I have room to adjust as I go.  I can find a way to make some extra money - or figure out the best way to cut the budget further.  If I waited until the last minute I would be forced to work with what I had - unless I was willing to charge money I don't have (BIG NO-NO).

Step 2: Determine who is on your gift list

Ideas for saving money:

- No gift cards:  You can't find a bargain if you simply buy a gift card.  If you're family regularly exchanges gift cards see the next tip.

- Ask the adult members of the family if they'd like to just focus on the kids.  This year will be the second that I don't buy gifts for my 22 and 20 year old sisters and their significant others.  One sister wanted to buy me a gift card, and she wanted a gift card back.  I thought that was equivalent to exchanging cash except that you no longer get to choose where to spend it.

- Don't buy for yourself while Christmas shopping unless you know it's 1. a great deal 2. Fits in your clothing budget (not your Christmas budget) and 3. most importantly it something that already on your list of things you need.  Only if you have the budget and don't have something you need to buy first is it a good idea to buy a want.  I bought my favorite jacket on Black Friday last year, and I have definitely gotten my money's worth from it.

- Get creative.  Hopefully I'll spend far less on the adults in my family since I plan on making most of their gifts.  I've already made some great home made jams and preserves.

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