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Financially Prepare for Christmas

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Christmas always seems so far away, and then suddenly….it’s here.

Even though we technically have 12 whole months to plan, most of us {including myself!} wait until the last minute. It’s almost like we enjoy frantically rushing around grabbing last minute gifts and making sure holiday traditions are kept, no matter how much they add to our stress level.

Although hardcore planning may not completely erase our anxiety, there are ways to make it just a little bit easier. These financial tips give your wallet some much needed room to breathe, and perhaps help you relax a little bit more too!

1. Start setting money aside now

It’s always a good idea to budget for Christmas gifts, food, decorations, etc, and if you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to start.

Think about what you would normally spend around the holidays. Then take a specified amount of money each week from your paycheck to put in a cash envelope, or as a separate column in your budget sheet. Even though it’s almost December, this post on Money Saving Mom will explain why it’s still not too late.

2. Make a menu plan, and stock up when items are on sale

Baking supplies come very cheap starting in November, but they often have limits of 2 per customer. Try to buy at least one or two items each time you make a trip to the store, so you don’t have to make a last minute run to finish your favorite cookie recipe.

You can also bake cookies, pies, bars….pretty much anything you make in advance will freeze, which will give you more time to enjoy family, and less time in the kitchen.

3. Stick to your list on Black Friday

I love scoring amazing deals on Black Friday, but they aren’t such a good deal if I’m buying more than I need, or “just because” it’s a good deal.

When you go through store ads after the Thanksgiving meal, make a detailed list of what you’re getting, who you’re buying for, and stick to that list. No wandering!

4. If you find a good deal, count the retail price, not the discount

What exactly do I mean by this?

Let’s say you find an $8.00 doll for your niece, marked down from $20.00, and you normally spend $15 on her. Don’t go looking for another $7.00 to spend to make up the difference. Cross her off your Christmas list and count it done. No one has to know!

5. Start making homemade gifts

Homemade gifts are a great way to save money, and still give a family member or friend something really special.

A pretty package full of homemade gourmet popcorn tied with a ribbon, or a fancy sugar scrub doesn’t have to cost more than a few dollars, and they’re so well-received.

6. Pare down the gift giving

Christmas really isn’t about all the gifts, and if you really want to make a difference in your budget, reduce your spending limit. Buy one or two gifts for each of your kids, rather than 10-15 toys they’ll use that day, but never touch again.

Also, if you have a large extended family that keeps growing, consider talking about eliminating gifts all together, or buying a gift for each family unit, rather than individually.

7. Limit the amount of Christmas cards you send

The wonderful thing about technology, is that we can stay up-to-date without waiting for the annual Christmas letters. Plus, with the cost of stamps being so high, sending Christmas cards can get really expensive…fast.

Either keep your list to a select few, or figure out another, more affordable option.

This year, I’m planning on sending an email newsletter to my friends and family. With services like Mail Chimp, you can still send something really personal, add pictures, and write a small {or long!} greeting. And you can still send snail mail to Grandma if you need to.

8. Make a list of items for next year

As you are wrapping gifts, making cookies, or decorating the tree, make note of what you have, what you use, and what you’re going to need for next year.

Just because wrapping paper and boxes of ornaments are 70% off after Christmas, doesn’t mean you need to add to your stash. Look at what you will actually use, and buy items based on needs, not finds.

I hope you don’t think me too much of a Grinch after reading this post! I just know how much Christmas can take a toll on a family that has a very tight budget {which is exactly where we are}, and I love finding ways to help ease that burden, if only a little at a time.

What is your best tip to prepare for Christmas?


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