Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Making Christmas 2013 more affordable

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  If not, you might want to think about it.  This is one way I have saved money in the past on Christmas expenses.

This year, we spent about $400 on Christmas (granted, we had no meal as it was just my mother and me.  I ate fish sticks and she wasn't hungry.)  But for that, we got about $1500 of stuff.  (And $288 of that was for a new kitchen table and chairs I bought online on Black Friday.)

Start shopping NOW for Christmas gift wrap, cards, decorations, and the like.  These go down dramatically after Christmas, and one year I was buying Christmas cards for 10 cents for a box of ten.  I didn't need thousands of Christmas cards, but I could use the envelopes (cheaper than a #10) and made postcards out of the fronts of the cards.

For gifts, I used gift cards I had won entering sweepstakes.  I saved them until I found sales, then combined sales with online coupons.  For instance, I wanted to get my mother a new telephone for the landline.  I waited until it was on sale.  Then there was a $10 off $50 purchase coupon, free shipping if you spent $50, and I had a gift card I won.  Even without the gift card, I would have paid about $40 for an $80 phone.

If an item doesn't have to be new, watching for things at garage sales can be a big money saver.  My aunt has been one to like local history items, and one year I bought her a magazine from the 1960s with a local story in it.  Cost?  Ten cents.  She didn't know I paid ten cents rather than the $10 or more it was going for on eBay.  This works well for things that are no longer made, out of print, antiques, etc.

A friend made my mother a gift.  To buy something similar would have been over $50.  For less than 30 minutes she was able to make something almost identical (but better for my mother) with about a $5 investment.  Not only that, it's more personal because it was handmade.

For some friends of mine, I entered a lot of blog giveaways and won some great stuff for them.  Everything from a handmade scarf to toys for their kids.  Another thing I'm giving those friends is a box of Hostess Zingers.  They live in Russia and were not here when Hostess announced they were closing.  They are in for the holidays, so I have a box of Zingers to give them so they can say farewell to the American icon.  Again, not expensive, but thoughtful.  (Of course, this is the same friend who would become nostalgic over vanilla wafers, a treat he never especially liked, just because they don't sell them in Russia!)

One way to make Christmas a little more affordable is to figure out NOW what you want to (and can afford) to spend next Christmas.  Divide that by 12.  Now set aside that much money each month for Christmas (or if you can find good deals, go ahead and spend.  For instance, buy wrapping paper, cards, etc. NOW.)   Also, buy stamps now.  They will go up next month and since first class stamps are now "Forever" stamps, they will be useable next year with no additional postage. 

Good luck on making 2013 more affordable!  :)

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