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In just five short months The Grinch will be on his way to suck your bank account dry!
Not really, but it sure feels like that’s what happens. As soon as you take a bite of your Thanksgiving turkey here comes all of the sales ads luring you in, which is probably why 44% of Americans are left paying off over $1000 in debt from not properly preparing for the holidays.
Luckily, there are ways to gift your loved ones without taking a huge blow to your finances. Check out these 7 tips to have Christmas on a budget!
Start saving NOW
Obviously, the more time you have to prepare financially for the holidays the less stressful gift shopping becomes. That’s because you’re not crunching numbers the day before you go to the store and grudgingly handing over your credit card for something you know you can’t afford.
Time is dwindling, so if you haven’t started saving then this is the day to set up a sinking fund. Unlike a regular savings account, sinking funds are for a specific purpose, such as vacation or a new car. Once you’ve reached your targeted goal then simply deduct the money to make your purchase. They’re perfect for short-time goals and allow you to make a guilt-free purchase because you saved up for it in advance.
Many financial institutions now offer Christmas savings accounts to make it easier for account holders to prepare for the upcoming holidays, but penalties may apply for early withdrawals. You can opt to use a basic savings account or go old school and save in cash using envelopes.
Personally, I use Digit for all of my sinking funds. It saves your spare change automatically based on your spending behavior and allows you to set up multiple savings goals. Getting to your money is easy, just withdraw the funds and it’s normally deposited into your account by the next business day. You can try it free for 30 days before it switches back to just $2.99 a month, which is probably less than your cup of coffee!
Set a budget
Before you do anything stop, drop, and make a budget.
Create a list of everyone you would like to buy a gift for this year, along with their individual interests. This list will allow you to see just how far your dollar has to stretch in order to get through everyone’s name.
You may soon realize that some people may not make it to the final round, and that is okay. The point is to determine how much love you have to spread, and I know for me it’s not much????♀️.
Consider sticking with only immediate family members or those who often gift you. I know that marking out names is enough to break the generous givers out in hives, but hear me out for a sec. When you have a short list, you are able to spend more money on those that mean the most to you.
Once you have determined how many people you have to buy for, calculate how much you can comfortably afford to spend on each person. When doing this, consider:
- How much time you have remaining to save
- Your monthly expenses
- All monthly debt payments
- Their importance to you
The key here is to be realistic. If you have 8 people on your list, but you can only afford to save $500 in the next seven months then that’s about $63 per person if divided equally. Although you’d love to buy Aunt Bertha a $200 espresso machine, if it is half your budget then let it go sister. That is unless you’re willing to reduce the amount you’re paying on someone else.
Next, write down three gift options for each person based on their interests that fit comfortably within the amount you’ve budgeted for them.
Don’t have a budget? Check out: Budgeting for Beginners
“Don’t be extra”
I repeat! DON’T. BE. EXTRA!
Why? Because being extra costs extra.
The holidays have become a competition for who can purchase the most gifts, and no wallets are spared. Don’t be that person giving up your rent money just to say you were the best gift-giver this year. We all want to see our loved ones gawking at our purchases, but you’re on a budget!
Personally, I like to limit 1 gift per person, minus my children. Using that 1:1 ratio, I managed to buy 8 people gifts with just $154!
Trust me, purchasing only one gift is a lot less stressful, takes less creative juices, and dangit it’s the thought that counts anyway!
Buy something useful
The purpose of jotting down the interests of those you’re buying gifts for is to purchase something that they’ll actually use.
How many times have you been gifted something that only gets one good use before collecting dust? Now think of how pissed off you’d be to think of your gifts catching dust bunnies after you went out and spent your hard-earned money on them.
What if I don’t know their interests? That’s okay.
If you got sucked into doing something like Secret Santa at work and you’re not too familiar with the person then resort to good ol’ observation. Notice that a coworker juggles a lot of different responsibilities? Consider purchasing something cheap and useful like a planner. It’s that simple!
Posts to check out next!
- Simple Tips to Create a Bomb Budget When You’re Paid Bi-weekly
- 4 Things You Need to Do to Get Caught Up on Bills
- 7 Tips to Improve Your Credit Score 100 Points in One Year
- The Simple Trick to Paying off Credit Card Debt Fast!
- The “Broke” Girl’s Guide to Saving Money
- 27 Best Business Ideas for the Future Mompreneur
- 4 Ways Financial Goals Help You Destroy Debt + Live Your Best Financial Life!
- How I Went from $100 to $1300 in Spendable Income – Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck!
- How I Saved $3,000 for Maternity Leave on One Low Income
- How Much Money You Should Have Saved at Your Age
- How to Pay off Thousands in Debt as a Single Mom. Yes, Even on a Low Income!
Get cash back!
Consider using retailers that offer cashback on the purchases you make. Online shopping seems to have seriously taken over the world, and online sites have partnered with your favorite retailers to give you money back.
How does it work?
Let me first say that these sites are completely free to use. Retailers pay them for sending traffic their way thus allowing the cashback site to give some of that money to you.
The percentage of cashback is different for every retailer, but some can range from 2%-20% or more!
Lately, I’ve been using Rakuten(formerly eBates) and I love it! They offer cashback at your favorite stores and pay you by either check or Paypal. When you join you get $10 added to your account after you shop! That’s a guaranteed $10 back from your purchase.
Hit the clearance rack
If you’ve never shopped the clearance rack then you’re missing out on some serious savings. I’m super frugal, so whether I’m shopping online or in the store I always make sure to see what’s on clearance first.
(*Tip: If you’re shopping online many tabs say sale instead of clearance).
Comparing pricing is now easier than ever thanks to online shopping. If you’re looking for a particular item, don’t just purchase from the first site that has it available. Chances are you’ll find a better deal on the exact same item but from another retailer.
The holidays are a time to give but you can’t give what you don’t have. Taking on debt to purchase gifts just isn’t worth it, which is why it’s so important for you to start saving now in order to have a successful Christmas on a budget! If saving isn’t your point then be sure to check out my free email savings course!