Christmas time is the time of year that people love to spend, spend, spend. They often regret it by January though, when the bills come in. With a little planning, overspending can be avoided by shopping throughout the year and by finding as many ways as possible to cut costs.
Cheap Christmas Gifts
Start with the ‘after holiday’ sales to stock up on gift items and other clearance holiday items such as cards, gift wrap and decorations that can be used next year. These items can often be found at up to 75% off, right after Christmas. For those brave enough, shop on ‘Black Friday’ after Thanksgiving, for huge discounts. Visit outlet stores year round for many brand name gifts, especially clothing, which are often priced well below list price. Don’t forget to use any eligible discounts such as student, senior citizen or employee company discounts. Some stores offer free gift wrapping, saving time and money, remember to ask.
Consider shopping stores online, as often online bargains are the best. Look for free shipping and promotion codes to use at checkout. Be sure to look for gifts at eBay and Amazon for competitive pricing. Shopping online also saves gas! For those that prefer to visit the store to make a purchase rather than online, use the internet to shop around and compare store prices before heading out. Sign up for store email lists and be the first to hear about sales and discounts.
Be sure to track each expense as purchases are made and consider buying items with cash using money withdrawn from a Christmas fund and leave the credit cards (that includes store credit cards) at home. This prevents overspending, credit card purchases often encourage shoppers to spend what they don’t have.
Ideas for Christmas Dinner and Decorations
Cooking a Christmas dinner can be expensive, especially if cooking for a crowd. Choosing a simple menu saves money and is less stressful. Plan the meal well ahead of time and know how many are expected at the table. Buy non perishable and freezable foods in advance, whenever they go on sale. Be aware that preparing food rather than buying pre-prepared food tends to be less expensive.
Clip coupons from the Sunday paper and download online coupons. Be careful of buying food items in bulk to save money if leftovers won’t be eaten. Food that has to be thrown away is never a bargain. If a large number of people will be attending, ask them to bring a side dish to cut down on the expense. Make a plan for leftovers, so that nothing goes to waste.
Decorate the Christmas table with natural items that may be found in the back yard such as twigs, leaves, holly and berries. A cheaply but creatively decorated table can still be made to look special even with limited funds. Make paper chains and string popcorn for the Christmas tree.
Buy clear ornaments from the craft store and decorate them to use as teacher gifts and to adorn the tree. These make great Christmas crafts to do as a family. Store Christmas decorations in a strong, protective box and put them in a clean, dry place, so that they will be reusable year after year. Being thrifty at Christmas can be fun and save lots of money!