The holiday season is upon us (and starting even earlier year after year) and it’s time to start shopping for our loved ones. It’s the time where you want to show your love with thoughtfulness and generosity through gift giving, but of course that comes with hefty price tags.
It can be SO hard to limit your spending when you want to show those you love, that you care. Society makes it really hard to not go overboard with shopping, from the commercials to the circulars and advertisements. Seeing and hearing all of the deals makes it nearly impossible not to splurge on things you may not really need to buy.
Here are some of my ideas on how to easily save money and not blow your budget this holiday season.
This post may contain affililiate links of which I would receive a small commission should you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Make an organized list
Write down everyone’s name who you need to buy for, a few gift ideas, and your approximate spend for that person. If a gift idea comes to you or you see an item on sale that you don’t want to buy just yet, write it down. Then you can cross them off as you buy and it will hopefully keep you from over buying because you forgot if you’ve already gotten them a gift yet.
Keep to a budget
Included in your list of gift ideas and the people you will be shopping for, it is so important to write down how much you would like to spend and STICK TO IT. I know you may see those extra gifts that the recipient would absolutely love, but resist the urge to overbuy. I find that if I write things down and see it in front of me, I am more likely to stick to it.
Your budget should not just include gift purchases, but all other extra expenses you may incur over the month. From holiday work events and hosting Christmas Eve dinner to travel expenses and pictures with Santa, there are so many extras at this time so make sure you’re accounting for them all so you don’t blow your budget before you even start shopping!
Cut back on other expenses
Because we know we will be spending more during this time of year, try to cut out some other expenses you don’t necessarily need for the month. If you typically buy lunch at work every day, go out to dinner once a week, get a car wash twice a month, etc., try to limit those little things that you could live without.
Start simplified gift traditions
It’s easy to go overboard with buying everything you know your loved one will want, but starting a tradition to only buy certain items will help limit that. For example, buying certain items every year:
Something they want, something they need, something to wear, & something to read.
A pair of pajamas and a toy.
2 books and a new outfit.
Narrowing down your shopping list to specific items year after year will help you to not overspend.
Recycling gifts from birthdays
If you had a birthday party for your child this year, chances are you got plenty of toys and clothes. They don’t need 15 new toys at once, so save a few of those unopened items until Christmas and give them to your child then. You could easily stock away 2-3 gifts without your child knowing! Make sure you chose clothing or toys that can be used when they’re a little older so that they haven’t outgrown it by Christmas.
Use Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace is like a garage sale online and I’ve seen plenty of good finds. If it’s for your own family and you don’t mind things slightly used, this is a great place to find items. Much better than garage sales because you can specifically search for an item you need, instead of driving around hoping you find that needle in a haystack. You may have to drive some distance for it, but if the price is right, this is your best bet. Don’t forget to negotiate the price before you make the purchase. Most sellers are willing to get rid of things and will sell for a best offer. If you need something brand new, there are usually people willing to get rid of unopened toys and clothes that their children never used and already grew out of.
Buy discount gift cards for shopping
This is my favorite trick that many people don’t know about! You can buy gift cards online at a discounted price for making purchases at stores and restaurants you go to all the time. These gift cards have been used so you can’t give them as gifts, but you can definitely purchase a gift using them. Gift Card Granny is a search engine to find thousands of gift cards at discounted prices from other vendors. Gift Card Spread is another company that offers these deep discounts. You can also sell your unwanted gift cards through these websites to get cash if you have no use for those gift cards anymore.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Earn Money While You Shop
Gift Card Promotions
During the holidays, retail stores and restaurants are likely to offer gift card promos such as, buy $50 in gift cards, get a $10 gift card free. These are great for stocking stuffers, mail man and teacher gifts, or even just keep the extra for yourself. Just check your local stores to see which ones are offering.
Volunteer Your Time
This is a gift you can give yourself and your family that doesn’t cost anything. Volunteer at a shelter, toy drive, food bank, or hospital and I guarantee it will fill your heart knowing that you helped others in need. This is a great idea to start doing with your children to get them in the spirit of giving, not only receiving.
Use Ebates before making a purchase
Ebates is by far the best cash back offering site. It gives you cash back on many purchases you would make both online and in the store. Just log into Ebates before you make a purchase to find if your store is listed. Then access your store through the Ebates site and they’ll automatically give you cash back on your purchase for the listed percentage amount. There are thousands of stores affiliated with them and you can even get cash back for in store purchases too if you link your credit card. In the past few years that I’ve been a member, I’ve earned over $1,500 back! Just click here to sign up and you’ll already earn $10 after your first purchase.
When you’re dealing with large groups or extended family, opt for a Secret Santa gift exchange where you just pick 1 person to buy for instead of buying for everyone. My husband’s family has about 35 people that we could potentially buy for if you add in-laws and nieces and nephews, so we do a Secret Santa between all of the adults and you only buy gifts for your God children instead of all of the kids.
Experiences as gifts
Instead of exchanging gifts with other adults, do a night out instead. It may end up costing the same or more than a gift, but at least you will get a night out included with it. Since this is money spent on something you would have already been doing anyway, it’s not wasted. Maybe you could go see a show, a local brewery, or a paint night.
Take your own photos
Don’t waste money on expensive photographers for Christmas card photos. It’s easy to take your own just using your cell phone camera! You just need a few little props (you can get holiday themed blankets, baskets, pillows from Target or Michaels), natural lighting and a blank wall or backdrop. If you want family photos, just go to a park with a friend or relative and have them take a family photo.
Related Post: DIY Baby Photos
Start free or inexpensive family traditions
You don’t need to spend lots of money on tickets for Breakfast with Santa or Christmas shows because there are plenty of things to do for free around the holidays. Start new traditions that don’t cost anything like driving around to see christmas lights & decorations on houses, town christmas tree lighting, decorating the tree in your Christmas PJs, watch a Christmas movie with hot chocolate at home, seeing the lights & decorations at the mall, dancing to Christmas music as you bake cookies, making crafts, and many more. You can get really creative when you’re trying to do fun things for free! See my other post for more Christmas Traditions to Start as a Family.
Don’t be one of those last minute shoppers who’s rummaging around the racks on December 23rd. Sure, you can find sales then, but you may overspend on something in your desperation when maybe you could have gotten it for a better discount 2 weeks earlier.
Buy wrapping paper and bows right after the holiday for next year to save a ton. Most of these Christmas items will go on sale for 70-80% off after the holiday so stock up for next year on consumables like wrapping paper, bows, gift bags, tissue paper, tinsle, christmas cards, holiday candles/scents, Christmas plates/napkins, etc. Try to go the day after the holiday because if you wait too long you will just be left with slim pickings.
Watch the sales
Keep an eye out for the best deals and don’t just jump at the first sale a store is offering. Black Friday is NOT always the lowest prices of the season so it may save you money if you wait for a better promotion a week or two later.
Do you have any other ways that you make the holidays affordable instead of blowing your budget?