It's almost here!
Yes, that time of year is quickly approaching. The time of year that is about love and family. A time of year to be thankful, and to celebrate with the ones we cherish. Unfortunately, this can also be a time of stress. A time of arguments and shouting as parents struggle to give their children the top gift, or to fill the living room with presents. It's doesn't have to be this way though, even if you don't have a lot of money. I promise you it is possible to have a wonderful Christmas your children will love that won't completely break your bank account!
Saving money early is a great plan for Christmas, if you can. Starting a holiday fund as early as March or May will give you more than enough time to save for Christmas. Mystery shopping is a great way to earn a few extra bucks, and this article will give you some great tips on how to save money when you can. Shopping early is an even better idea!
It's not even Halloween yet, but I've already started my Christmas shopping. I know some people that start as early as June or July because they have more children. This one tip alone can greatly reduce the stress that often comes with Christmas, and can also help you save money.
This may seem like a no brainer, but to some people it's really not. Don't instantly rush to the store to buy the new IPad. Take some time and shop around.
Ebay has great deals. Like many people, I was hesitant about buying things like that online...Until I found out my paranoid mother that has very little knowledge about even facebook was doing it. Upon her telling me this, I checked it out. Many people have free shipping, you can get your money back if you return the item, and many products bought on Ebay are also protected by Ebay. You can sort your results quickly and easily simply by checking the little box stating that you would not like to see items unless they are free shipping and returns are accepted.
Craigslist is another great site to check out. There are a lot of people that sell brand new things. I just bought five beautiful Barbies for five dollars each. You have to take some time with it though. Don't just log onto Craigslist and assume it will be there. Check the website every so often for things you're looking for. This is another wonderful reason that starting early can help you save money.
Facebook groups. There are a lot of groups on facebook that are the equivalent of an online garage sale. You can also find deals in this groups on items that are brand new, or at least look brand new. Try searching HandsUpForHandMeDowns or (insertcountyname) rummage sales, just to give you a couple ideas.
Sometimes you can find amazing deals online that are not available in stores. I don't just mean Ebay, Craigslist, or Facebook, but go and check out Walmart.com or Target. They also have a clearance section that may have items that are not on the clearance shelves of the store. This also allows you to compare prices, ensuring that you get the best deal possible.
Yep, clearance shop. My local Walmart has a clearance toy aisle, that I love. I always take some time to check out the amazing deals before I hit the toy aisles. This will definitely help you get more bang for your buck.
Thrift Stores and Outlet Stores
I know some people cringe at the mere thought of buying a gift at thrift store. It's not the end of the world though! Places such as Goodwill sell some brand new items, and there are also a lot of items that look new. If you don't want your child knowing that you went to Goodwill and bought that shirt or book, simply take the tag off everything so they have no clue where you bought any of their clothes, and you can only buy toys that come in a nice looking box. Some things, such as stuffed animals or books don't come in a box anyway (wink, wink).
Outlet stores are also wonderful. We have a Marshall's where you can buy brand name things for Walmart prices. I just got an adorable Nike outfit for $15. And yes, it's a real Nike outfit. A Michael Kors top for $5. I also clearance shop at discount stores. Why spend more money if you don't have to? Some outlet stores also have a toy section. It won't hurt to stop in and check it out. Things may be a bit more affordable than you think!
If you have a particular skill, that can turn into a wonderful gift. You can sew some fuzzy pillows for a tween, make a blanket for a baby, or bake up a beautiful gift basket of banana bread, buckeyes, and other holiday favorites. Some people also feel that this is not good enough for Christmas, or feel bad, but, once again, DON'T. My stepmother found out that I don't get birthday presents from anyone except my father and my best friend. She did my nails for free, and I loved it. My children still have blankets that were made for them when they were five and two. If I knew how to sew, I would be crafting up some fuzzy pillows for my little tween right now...When my father could eat chocolate, he would have loved for me to bake all that for him!
Know Your Budget
Before you hit the stores, the craft aisle, or touch your mouse you need to know how much you are going to spend. Too many parents go crazy on toys only to struggle afterwards. If you plan a budget, you are also more likely to save money when you can because you will look more closely at the cost of those high priced items you are buying, or are tempted to buy.
Christmas Isn't About the Money!
We all hear this, but we all also want our children to have wonderful Christmas's they will never forget. I used to be like this, doing everything I could to fill the living room with every present they wanted. Then reality set in. I was donating toys they had grown tired of a mere six months later. So many clothes they wouldn't fit in their drawers were outgrown within three months. The first year I budgeted Christmas, my children literally thought I was messing with them when Christmas morning came. They thought I hid the rest of their presents. I am ashamed to say they were total brats. I can't blame them though, because that's the way that I was raising them. I grew up without a lot for Christmas, but I valued what I did have. That's how I want my children to be. That Christmas morning I vowed that I would never again fill the living room with presents. Not because of money, but because I want my children to have something much more important than presents: appreciation, work ethic, and I want them to value the things they have not be some spoiled little brat that will launch a DS across the room and not care. I want them to value family, friends and love. Remember that as this holiday season approaches: the gifts you buy them will last until they outgrow them, but the values you teach them will last a lifetime.