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Well, guys. Like it or not, Christmas is COMING. And that means buying gifts. Lots and lots of Christmas gifts.
We’ll all be up to our eyeballs in Amazon packages before too long. And our bank accounts will be that much emptier.
Pardon me while I go cry a little.
But I wanted to help you guys out a little. I like to think I’m fairly good at saving money. I think I spent under $300 on Christmas gifts last year for my entire family. Husband, kids, sisters, parents, brother-in-law. Everybody.
Considering that the average American spends over $900, I feel like I did pretty well. I probably could have done better if I were craftier and DIY’d everyone’s presents, but that’s just not practical for me.
Here’s what I do instead:
Make a plan
The best way not to find yourself paying off Christmas debt for months into the new year is to make a plan! Decide how much you can comfortably spend on Christmas. Commit to not spending any more than that, end of story.
You’ll have to divide it up amongst everyone; decide what percentage you’ll spend on each of your kids, your spouse, extended family, teacher gifts, etc. Then stick to it. If you wind up spending too much on teacher gifts, then you’ll have to dial back what you get your kids to balance it out. Or vice versa.
You get the idea.
The point is just to determine how much you will spend BEFORE you spend it as much as possible. Then make small adjustments to the amount you spend on individual gifts as necessary so that you don’t blow your overall budget.
To make Christmas less of a financial burden, consider setting up a separate bank account and auto-debiting a certain amount of money each paycheck for Christmas gifts. That way you’ll basically have Christmas already paid for when gift-buying time rolls around instead of going into credit card debt that you’ll have to pay off later.
Keep expectations low
The first thing to keep in mind as your do your Christmas shopping is to work on keeping everybody’s expectations low. Especially if you have super young kids, just don’t get them started on the consumerism train from the beginning. Teach them to be grateful for 1-3 reasonably priced gifts, and not expect the world from you every year at Christmastime.
They don’t play with their new toys longer than two days after they get them anyway.
If you have older kids, I have no advice for you hahahaha. Maybe you could gather everyone around, talk to them about the true meaning of Christmas. Explain that you’re going to be focusing less on gifts, more on being together and celebrating Jesus and they shouldn’t expect so much this year.
Let me know how that goes over.
Along the same lines, consider if you and your spouse can possibly dial back how much you spend on one another. My husband and I don’t even get each other Christmas gifts.
Honestly, do you really even like the gifts that your husband gets your every year? Does he really know what you want? Could that money be better spent elsewhere in your budget?
I’m not saying you have to go so far as to stop getting gifts for one another like us, but maybe re-evaluate your system so that neither of you wastes $200 buying something for your spouse that they aren’t even going to be that crazy about at the end of the day.
Buy Used Christmas Gifts
Finding used items can be a fantastic way to save on Christmas gifts. Plus it’s better for the environment, if you care about that.
Stuff for kids is especially great to find used. They grow out of their clothes and get too old for their toys at a frighteningly fast pace, so their stuff has plenty of life still left in it after they’re finished with it.
Thus, your local Craiglist website and Facebook Marketplace are FULL of parents trying to make a little money back on stuff that their kids don’t need any more. Take advantage. Your wallet (and the earth!) will thank you.
Your kids won’t even notice that they aren’t getting new stuff.
Don’t forget to check out thrift stores too! Places like Once Upon A Child check all of their stuff for recall notices, so you can buy from them assured that everything they sell is safe for your kiddos!
Some ideas of gifts to buy used for kids: clothes, baby gear, toys, books, gaming systems, outdoor toys, bikes, puzzles, board games and lots more!
OK, now to get into the serious money-saving tips for your Christmas gift shopping.
Have you tried honey yet? It’s my favorite, especially for Amazon and Kohl’s shopping.
Honey will automatically search the web for any and all coupon codes that you might be able to use when you checkout. It tests every code that it finds, and automatically applies the one that saves you the most money!
This is perfect for me because scouring the internets for promo codes before I make a purchase is basically my least favorite thing to do.
The other really great feature that Honey has is price drop notifications! If you see an item while shopping online that you think you might like to buy sometime soon, you can add it to your Droplist! Then, if the price goes down at any time, Honey will send you an email to let you know that now is a great time to buy!
Needless to say, I love seeing emails from Honey in my inbox 🙂
This method requires a little patience, but the savings are so worth it! It’s only the beginning of October, so if you start adding items to your price drop list now, you’ll most likely get some stuff for a lower price!
Ebates is another awesome Chrome extension that basically pays you to shop and it’s even easier to use than Honey! After you install the extension on your browser, just carry on with your internet browsing as normal.
If you happen to start shopping on a website that Ebates offers cashback on, a little notification will pop up telling you what percent cashback you’ll get if you make a purchase on that website!
If you decide to buy something, just make sure you activate Ebates by clicking the pink ACTIVATE CASHBACK button that will pop up. You can’t miss it.
Just to give you an idea, as I’m writing this, you can get 8% cashback at TOMS, 10% back on Expedia and 6% on Groupon! But things change all the time, and may be less (or more!) cashback when you decide to purchase.
Click the button below to get $10 after you make your first purchase!