Over the years, our budget for Christmas has decreased significantly. Our family has grown, along with our income but we are now paying for 2 children to attend daycare. This means that there is not a lot of money left over for purchasing Christmas presents. I have learned and tried quite a few strategies for saving money on presents that I am planning on sharing with you today:
- Use Swagbucks! I just discovered this site a couple of months ago and have already earned 2 $5 Amazon gift cards. You can earn points on Swagbucks by completing your normal online searches through their search engine, watching videos and completing surveys. Once you earn enough points, you can redeem them for gifts cards and other items. My favorite is the Amazon gift card. By Christmas, I will probably have earned enough points for several more gift cards which I can then use to purchase a gift or gifts for someone on my list
- Make a budget and stick to it. Each year, my husband and I make a list of each person for whom we plan to purchase a Christmas present and decide how much we will be spending on those people. I create a spreadsheet in Excel with this information, leaving several empty spaces below each person. When I make a purchase for someone, I add the purchase to the spreadsheet, along with the cost. Once I have finished shopping for someone, I cross their name off the list.
- Shop all year long. Don't wait until November to begin your Christmas shopping. When I wait too late in the year to begin my shopping, I find myself stressed out and I end up spending more than I would have if I had purchased items when I found a good deal on them. Make your list in January and begin purchasing items early in the year.
- Shop the clearance racks. I check the clearance racks at Target, Kohls and Wal-mart throughout the year. Clearance racks at Target are often on the endcaps, but I also look down each aisle for red clearance tags. Earlier this year, I stopped by Target during their bi-yearly toy clearance and purchased boatloads of toys for my kids and other kids on our list, plus games for the adults. I am storing these in a gift closet until Christmas.
- Before making a trip to the store, always search for printable coupons. Centsable Momma and The Coupon Challenge post a list of printable retail coupons weekly. You can save a great deal of money on your purchases by using retail coupons. I recently used a $10 off a $10 purchase coupon at Pier One to get a free candle!
- Use Google Reader to bookmark money saving blogs such as Money Saving Mom, Bargain Briana and A Frugal Chick. I keep approximately 10 money saving blogs in my google reader that I check on a daily basis. I quickly scroll through the posts to see if I find any coupon codes, deals or steals that I might be interested in. I have found photo gifts, toys and other items for little to no cost through these blogs.
- Consider photo gifts for grandparents and other family members. Walgreens frequently has coupon codes available for free 8x10s or photo collages. Shipping is minimal or you can pick them up in store for free. These free coupon codes can be found on the money saving blogs listed above. I have also frequently received coupon codes for free photo books via e-mail through Shutterfly and Snapfish by registering for accounts. These books are beautiful and would make a wonderful present, they just take a little time to upload and arrange pictures.
- Create handmade presents. Handmade presents are often my favorite to give and receive. One year I received a scarf from my sister that she had made using fleece. I have made cookies and baked goods for gifts. This year my plan is to incorporate even more handmade gifts into my gift-giving. Right now Skip to My Lou, According to Kelly and A Southern Fairytale are running a series of posts on handmade Christmas gifts. I also love to use Pinterest to search for and bookmark handmade gift ideas. You can see my Pinterest holiday page here for some of the ideas I am looking forward to trying this year.
- Regift. Be very careful if you decide to do this. Some people consider this tacky and would not even consider doing it. I only regift items that I consider pretty generic--candles, body sprays, gift sets. One way that I have done this in the past is by creating gift baskets for my children's teachers and including a regifted body spray in the bag. If you are planning on regifting a present, put the name of the giver on the gift before putting it in storage so that you do not give the present back to that person or any person from that same family.
- Check daily deal sites frequently for deals you may be interested in. Groupon is my favorite, but I also use Living Social, Plum District, Eversave and Savemore. You can give the vouchers as gifts or you can use the vouchers to purchase items at a reduced price for people on your list. I love the deals I have purchased for The Nutty Guys and mini photo flipbooks.
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