I’m not going to lie, I tend to struggle with my Christmas budget every single year. And it’s even harder now given our current financial situation.
Last year may have been Bee’s first Christmas, but this is going to be the first fun Christmas. Sure, last year wasn’t horrible, but she was only 5 months old and had no clue what was going on. She was in bed before our big Christmas Eve feast, I had to unwrap all of her gifts for her on Christmas morning and she spent half of Christmas day asleep.
This year is going to be so different! She’s almost a year and a half now and she is so excited about this Christmas business.
She helped me set up the Christmas tree and hang our stockings, she loves watching me wrap gifts, she thinks Santa is the coolest guy in the world, and I know she will LOVE spending next weekend in the kitchen baking cookies!
I want Christmas to be special. In the past, back when we had two incomes and extra money, making Christmas special meant going to the store and buying more stuff. More gifts, more decorations, more candies.
This year can’t be the same. I have to find ways to make Christmas special without spending too much money because our budget is already really, really tight as it is.
I’ll admit that I’ve been prepping and planning for this all year. I bought a bunch of 50-75% off wrapping paper, candles and decor the week after Christmas last year, I saved up all of my rebates on Ibotta and Checkout 51 for Bee’s gifts this year, and I tried to set some money aside so our budget wouldn’t be so tight this month.
Even though I tried taking steps to help us throughout the year, I still find myself wanting to just blow my budget because it’s Christmas and Christmas is special.
So, here I’ll share with you the 8 things I’ve been doing to try to keep Christmas special without overspending. I hope you find this helps you as much as it has me!
Trust me, it’s not weird! I’ve been prepping all year! And you still have time, it isn’t too late. Plan out all of your shopping trips, be it for food or for gifts. If you walk into a store without a game plan, you’re doomed. You’ll overspend and not even realize it until the cashier rings up your total. Been there, done that. It’s no fun.
I go shopping once a week and I very rarely make exceptions to that rule. Sometimes Hubby can stop by the store on his way home from work if we really need something, but I’d rather go without for a few days than make a random drive 20 miles into town to pick up an item or two. I usually do all of our shopping on Friday mornings and almost always start planning my next trip a few hours after I get home.
Crazy? Maybe… but this way I have time to thoroughly plan the trip out and think about the things we might want (not need) and decide whether or not they are necessities. It helps prevent impulse purchases.
I’m sorry, I probably sound like a broken record, but Ibotta is my absolute favorite way to save money. I saved my rebates up all year and used them to purchase all of Bee’s gifts this year. I’ve only spent $20-something on her this year, but that’s not because I bought her cheap Dollar Store toys. It’s because I got almost everything for free!
Sure, it’s too late for you to do that now, but you can still use Ibotta to get cash back on the food you need for baking cookies and making Christmas dinner. And depending on who you’re buying gifts for and what they want, you might be able to get cash back on Christmas gifts. There are rebates for clothes, movies, and booze!
Oh, and you’ll get $10 free after verifying your first rebate if you sign up using this link. Who doesn’t like free money?
On that same note, Checkout 51 can help you save on your holiday grocery shopping. They usually only have rebates on food and they don’t give you a cool sign up bonus like Ibotta, but they do offer you the ability to enter a drawing for $500 every time you spend more than $60 and submit your receipt to them. Sure, there’s only one winner per month, but I never turn down the opportunity to win money!
Also, you can use Checkout 51 from your computer or tablet. You aren’t limited to using your smart phone like you are with basically every other rebate app.
You can find some amazing deals on Amazon. Seriously.
For a while Amazon had Bee’s big Santa gift on sale for $56. I really didn’t want to spend that much, so I waited. Then one night at around 2am I had to get up with Bee. I decided to check on the price while I was up and it had dropped down to $46. I bought it right away! Two days later it was up to $79.99 and it’s been there ever since.
My first tip definitely applies here. Right now I have Amazon Prime (a Christmas gift I received last year that I likely won’t get to keep after it expires), but during Prime-less Christmases of the past, I’d load up my shopping cart and just wait. I’d log in every day and see if there were any big changes on pricing. When I saw something had dropped in price significantly, I jumped on it.
Decide what it is you want to buy your friends and family, then look around for the best price. Make sure you take a look at Amazon, too. There’s a good chance it’ll be worth it.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye out for good deals and taking advantage of them! I happened to go to a local farm/feed store the other day to buy dog food and one ton of pellets for our pellet stove (a very expensive trip…) and they were having a sale on their tools. I still needed stocking stuffers for Hubby, so I jumped on it and bought a couple. High quality tools that were 50% off.
Now these are items I’d already planned to buy. I was just waiting for the best opportunity. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need just because it’s on sale, but do buy things you need when they are on sale!
I hate ’em! I really, really do. But I still use them every chance I get.
My hatred for coupons is less important than saving money. Just like with sales, I don’t use coupons to buy stuff I don’t need, but I will certainly use them to buy items I already planned on buying. If I see a coupon for stuffing I plan to buy for Christmas dinner or chocolate chips I’m going to need for Christmas cookies, I’ll definitely use it.
I check Coupons.com and Groupon Coupons every Friday morning before I go grocery shopping and only print off what I know I’ll use.
MADE WITH LOVE
I used to think it sounded really corny and would never, ever do it, but this year a lot of the gifts I’m giving people are homemade.
I made the gift we’re giving my mom (although I can’t tell you what it is right now because she reads my blog), a LOT of family members are receiving homemade jam and salsa, and I’m making coasters like these (in different colors) for another family member.
I’m all for receiving homemade gifts, too! It’s really great knowing that someone put real thought and time into your gift, they didn’t just pick something up at Wal-Mart. Plus it’s a less expensive option and I’m always a fan of that!
Just like you should plan your shopping trip, you need to plan a holiday budget and STICK TO IT. Easier said than done, I know.
Hubby & I sat down and put a dollar amount to everything for Thanksgiving and Christmas right after Halloween. We decided how much we could spend on Bee, on each other, on extended family members, on food, on new decorations.
So far we’ve been able to stick to it, but the month of December is young! I’m sure we can do it, but it won’t be easy.
There you have it. My 8 best tips to avoid breaking the bank and going broke this Christmas.
Are there any tips you can add? Let me know!