Welcome to Day 7 of the Blogmania 2011 Dream Team Holiday Open House. Today I would like to give you a few tips to have a beautiful, memorable Christmas, without breaking the bank.
Over the years, I have heard of people spending hundreds of dollars on decorating, gifts, food and all the other things that go along with Christmas. Is this right though? In the economic crisis that many countries, including Canada and the United States are facing, I want to encourage you (and remind myself) to be good stewards of our money. So I have come up with a few things I do to save money during the holiday season.
1. SET A BUDGET:
This is the first thing you should be doing. The first budget you should think about is for gifts. Figure out how many gifts you need, and what you can afford to spend. When you do this, you are much more aware of what you are spending and you don't go over board. For example, between my husband and I we have nine nieces and nephews to shop for (next year will be 11)and that could very easily get out of hand financially. We decided a few ago that all nieces and nephew over 18 (there are 3 now), don't get a gift, but a family picture/card, and others get a gift that cost no more than $10. It is amazing what great deals you can find on gifts for under $10. Last year for 9 gifts I only spend $70 (which ended up being $20 below our budget).
Also, remember your budget from the previous year, and use that as your current year Christmas budget. Then in January, figure out how much money you need to save each month to have the Christmas budget completed by October. I picked October because that gives you enough time to shop and ship parcels if you need to. If your budget is $500, then save $50 a month, and you will have your money for October and not have to use credit or stress about where the money will come from.
2. Skip Gifts
Let me explain this. My husband and I do is not buy one another a gift. If there is something we want we will purchase it during the year, price shop and save our money for larger priced items. For example, last year we were in need (and want) of a newer computer system. We knew that after Christmas there would be a ton of Boxing Day sales, so we waited and saved over $300 on the system we ended up with. If you and your partner are okay with doing this, it can save a significant amount of money. Or if you are set on purchasing a gift for one another, set a budget and stick to it. We have done that in the past as well, say $25 (which still gets a great gift).
3. Go With Homemade Gifts
If you are a crafty and creative person, think about creating something homemade for your loved ones. For example, four years ago, I made a basket up for my mom with several "Cookies In A Jar" in it. It was items I already had in my home (since I bake on a regular basis, and had already purchased any special ingredients for Christmas baking). Between the "extra" ingredients, jars, and basket I only spent $20. I have also done scrapbooks, or knit scarves as gifts in the past. But be careful, because depending on the gift, homemade can sometimes be more expensive (scrapbooking for example, make sure you can get paper, empbellishments, etc on sale through the year to help), but the gift is typically much more meaningful!
3. Use Email for the Annual Family Letter
Instead of spending a small fortune on postage and printer ink, create your letter and email to your Christmas Card List recipients. You can also include a family photo that you can take yourself instead of going to a studio. This alone will save you a lot.
Go through your Christmas Decorations box before going out to buy new every year. I am the first to admit I have gone out every year and bought new decorations, etc but realize that is not being a good steward. The only thing that we have bought new every year in the last three years is the girls get to pick an ornament for the tree, and we pick a family ornament. Have a fake tree saves money too. It can cost a fair amount of money to purchase a real tree every year. Once you spend the initial investment on a fake tree (we bought ours for $50 - on sale after Christmas from $150) you should not have to buy one for a very long time). Also, get your kids to make decorations with pipe cleaners, paper snowflakes, beads and more.
5. Music and Movies
There are a ton of movies and music that one can collect for Christmas and this is not cheap by any means. Instead of spending a fortune on movies and music, every year pick one or two movies and CDs you would like to own and purchase those (look for sales - I know Walmart has great prices on Christmas music right now - they had Reba McIntyre's Christmas CD for $6.97 this week). Also, borrow them from the library (costs you nothing) or do a Movie/Music Swap with family and friends on a weekly basis. Then you can decide if you really want to spend the money.
If you have cable, you will have a ton of movies to watch in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You already pay for the cable, so you may as well use it. I know our local cable also has digital radio, and during November and December there is a Christmas music channel that I put on also around the clock! It includes all styles of music, so I hear a great variety.
These are just a few ways to create an awesome Christmas without having to go into debt, use credit or be stressed. I hope your Christmas prep time is a fun one, as you look forward to spending time with family and friends celebrating the season in whatever manner you do!
QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU DO TO SAVE MONEY FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS?
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