Every year Christmas comes around and every year people think......how the heck am I going to afford this?!?!?! Well, I wanted to share with you how we shop on a budget each year and don't stress over the money part. It gives us a lot more time to enjoy rather than worry about how we're going to pay for it all come January!
1. Start early! If you are reading this now and havn't started, then it's probably a little too late to get the best deals, but you'll still do fine. But for next year, try to start early. Keep a "gift closet" in your house and as you find things on sale through the year, put them in your gift closet. Examples of this include an Ohio State Hoodd Sweatshirt we found at Finish Line in July for only $15! We got an XL for Todd, and a XXL for his brother Bobby. The best part about it, Todd will even forget we got it until we open it!
2. Have a budget for every family member. I start a list in July and choose a dollar amount for each person. We usually do $100 for each parent. $50 for each sibling. $50 for each niece or nephew. We also do gift exchanges to save money. We now have gift exchanges with Todd's family and my dad's side of the family. When we get together with the family in the summer, I make sure everyone draws names for the Christmas exchange. We then add up the dollar amount we plan to spend on each person and decide in July how much we need to save per month.
3. Subscribe to your local paper, at least the Sunday edition. Every Sunday, I run out to get my paper in hopes of deal shopping. I look for gift ideas through the items that are on sale. Not only does it help me think of gifts, but it also helps me identify them when they are on sale.
4. Use online resources to find the best deal. There are tons of websites that compare prices like pricegrabber.com or dealoftheday.com or even woot.com that have some really great deals! Use these to your advantage!
5. Don't underestimate the Dollar Tree! This is a great place for stocking stuffers as well as Christmas decorations. I've found some items that are selling for as much as $10 at other stores!
6. Refuse to pay full price for anything. If you plan ahead, everything will go on sale at least once between July and Christmas. Look for coupon codes online, coupons in the mail, and/or sales!
7. Handmade presents are just as good as presents bought from a store! I'm not exactly the most crafty person on Earth, so I make food gifts to supplment smaller gifts I buy. I've given homeade hot cocoa mix, homeade beef jerky, homeade dog treats, homeade pictures frames, homemade frozen meals for my grandmothers who live alone. There are tons of ideas out there for things to make, just put on your thinking cap and you can find directions for almost anything on the internet!
8. And most importantly, Christmas shopping does not end on Christmas Day.....it's just beginning! The best time to buy decorations, presents, craft items, etc is after Christmas!