As my husband Jon – an accountant by trade – can attest, my natural talents do not lie in money management. I’m pretty good at figuring out how to earn extra money, but once the check arrives in the mail, I happily turn it over to Jon so that he can work his Excel-spreadsheet magic. I am seriously grateful that he’s willing to handle the always challenging and neverending responsibility of managing (AKA: juggling) our family finances.
However, there is one area of our annual budget for which I assume total control: holiday shopping and spending. As I have noted many times before, I absolutely loooove the winter holiday season – our family happens to celebrate Christmas – and one of my greatest joys as a mother has come each December via my annual efforts to create the most magical, tradition-laden and just plain fun Christmas that I can manage to pull off.
I am the mother of five children, and auntie to 14 nieces and nephews. As you might imagine, with a brood of kids this large in our family, I have to commit a not insignificant amount of time and dollars each year to “doing” Christmas the way I love doing it. But like pretty much everybody else I know, I don’t have vast quantities of either of these commodities available – not during the holiday season or at any other time of year.
However, because holiday preparations and execution are so enjoyable and important to me, Jon and I budget carefully all year to have money ready for my holiday shopping during November and December. But even with the Christmas shopping funds designated and set aside for me to use, I still have to be careful and thoughtful with my holiday money management in order to stretch the allocated gift budget to cover all those kids, not to mention Jon, my siblings, the grandparents, the kids’ teachers… You get the idea.
For all of these reasons, I have become something of a holiday shopping ninja. Whereas I am barely able to check items off a list at the grocery store, and while I can easily find myself inadvertently spending far more than I intended every time I pop into Target to buy new socks, my Christmas shopping is an entirely different matter. When it comes to finding, buying and paying for holiday gifts, I work with laser-like focus to maximize both my time and more importantly, my dollars. All joking aside, I find that I actually really enjoy getting through my entire, very lengthy gift shopping list each year while sticking to the budget Jon and I have established for the task. It’s become a bit of a competitive thing for me (although obviously, the only person against which I am competing is myself…)
Thus, with November now upon us, I thought I’d share what I have found by much trial and error to be my five most valuable money-saving holiday shopping tips. After you check out my ideas, I really hope that some of you will reciprocate by telling me what your best holiday budgeting wins have been. I’d love to read them.
(Just click on the arrows in the gallery below to read each of my best Christmas shopping recommendations.)
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