6 Simple Ways to Save this Christmas

 

Well, we’ve hit the 99 days until Christmas mark! I don’t know about you, but when I hear 99 days until anything, I think, “Oh crap….it’ll be here before I know it!” And sure enough, the days and weeks go by faster and faster each month it seems, especially with little ones around.

So since the secret is out that Christmas is in fact, on December 25th this year, let’s start preparing at least financially for the holidays, and avoid that credit card hangover in January! Instead of waiting until the new year to start a resolution saying, “This will be the year I get my money under control”, let’s start right now.

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GETTING STARTED

First things first, you’ll need to make a list and check it twice (like what I did there?). List who you plan to buy for and a reasonable amount for each person. If you want to take it one step further, add in some costs of your holiday baking, cooking if you host meals through the season, decorations, costs associated with travel, company parties and other activities that might be tradition around your friends and family. Don’t worry that it’s not perfect ~ you can add and change things as you go, but this is a great starting point. Now, take your total and divide it by 3 to be part of your October, November and December budgets. Here’s what you need to save each month to pay for Christmas in advance this year. Does it look reasonable? Achievable? If yes, AWESOME! Make sure to implement this plan starting in the October budget, if not sooner. If no, keep reading.

SIMPLE WAYS TO SAVE ON GIFTS

Let’s remember the reason for the season. My absolute favorite part about Christmas is all the gatherings. It’s seeing friends and family in settings where we let go a bit from daily stress. We forget about all the lists and chores waiting and just enjoy the company.

If your total on your list looked a little overwhelming, let’s first look at that list and see if there’s anyone that can be cut out. I know that sounds a bit Scrooge-ish, but the holidays can get out of hand over years passing and I’ve seen people buy for friend’s brother’s roomates…I mean, come on. Can you look at your list and see who you can bake for as gift instead? Or do a nice gesture for them? I LOVE to bake these Christmas Crock-pot Crack cookies every year and gift them to our mailmen, co-workers, clients, friends, family…I try to have a small box to take anywhere we go. They’re easy, delicious and everyone loves them. The recipe makes over 100 for about $15.

If you can’t cut anyone out, try gifting a group gift. Siblings can easily go in together for your parents! Friends in for friends! You can give something just a little bit nicer usually and spend less.

Personalized gifts are another great way to save. Shutterfly is famous for sending out emails in the fall to make free photo books, and discounts for calendars or coffee mugs. Make it a special gift and take advantage of major discounts! The trick on this is you usually need to start early!

Another way to save big is to take advantage of sales and the fact that you’ve started a list early. The closer we get to the holiday, the crazier we get with buying and falling for “sales”. We start buying things just to buy them and end up spending way more than we planned. If you have a well organized list now, you can start picking up things on sale as you find them and sit back and enjoy the season as it unfolds.

Use places like www.giftcards.com to buy discounted gift cards and then shop for those on your list. These places buy gift cards that are unwanted at a portion of their price and then resell them for just under their value, saving you $5, $10 or more depending on the value.

And lastly, if your family is older and grown, consider not buying gifts for each other at all anymore and taking that money and buying gifts for a family in need in your area. Our family started doing giving trees instead many years ago and it quickly became the best part about Christmas. We enjoy the giving so much more going to those who need it most!

What are your tips for giving on a budget? Share in the comments below!

 

How Comparison Shopping Can Lead to Big Savings

 

Yesterday, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. I took my Aldi receipt from Saturday morning and compared it to our local grocery store's prices via the online ordering set up. I used "apples to apples" - organic to organic, sizes to sizes and used all generic items from the grocery store to keep it the fairest. 

Now, Aldi is just one of many low-cost grocery stores. They keep their costs low in a variety of ways, but namely being energy and body efficient, carrying private label items, ordering in bulk, keeping employees at a minimum, and having customers partake in the work, like taking your own bags and packing them, and renting your cart for the shopping trip, to ensure it gets back to it's home spot. Other stores you might have in your area are WinCo, Sprouts, Fareway, and Save A Lot to name a few. 

But I digress -- so what were the results? The grand total of my SAVINGS was $50.05 on my Aldi order from what I would have spent at my local chain store. That's right. My bill was $65.67 at Aldi and it would have been $115.72 elsewhere. Now, you might be able to combat some of that with coupons and sales and Ibotta savings at your local grocer, but sometimes you just need to get in and out. The ONLY thing I didn't save on was milk... and here in PA, I think milk is a set price pretty much everywhere, so no surprise there. But I bought 37 items and 36 were a savings. Those little bits add up!! 

I'm not saying your local store doesn't have perks, and honestly, I prefer to shop local when I can (and I did after Aldi - I normally get about 75% at Aldi, then go to my local store for the rest that I can't get there and my meats). But when you're living on a budget, a 43% savings on groceries is a BIG ticket every month. It can literally be hundreds of dollars that you're eating! 

More tips on grocery savings to come, but in the meantime, what's your best grocery saving tip you can share? 

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