We all know the true spirit behind Christmas and the holidays in general. Unfortunately, that spirit involves Santa and we all know whose wallet Santa uses when buying his gifts for all these kids. In fact, the “Santa” that lives in our house has 16 kids to shop for: all nieces, nephews, our closest cousin’s kids and well, it gets expensive. It is no wonder why most family go into debt this time a year. I know of one family who usually ends up spending close to 5k! I refuse to let credit card debt kill me in January and decided to stick to a strict budget for the past 3 years. In fact, the budget for these 16 kids is a mere $350! Sounds impossible, but it’s really not. In fact, I have already purchased 7 gifts and spent only $98. Incredible and easier than you may think, here are a few tips on how to shop for the holidays and stick to your budget.
Money Saving Tips 1 of 11
Want to stay out of debt this holiday season or simply need ways to save a bit more? Follow these money saving tips while you shop.
Image via VistaPrint
Tip #1: Make Your List & Budget 2 of 11
How else would you know what number to stay under? My budget allows me $21.85 per kid when I start shopping. Once I get started, I can adjust that number as I go. Always have a number in mind when you shop.
Tip #2: Start Small 3 of 11
The younger the child, the simpler the gift can be. By getting them out of the way first, and usually under budget, you can stretch the amount that you spend on the bigger kids. This is my little one wearing one of the gifts that I have in mind for the holidays. Learn more about it here.
Tip #3: Price Comparison Apps 4 of 11
Use apps like Shop for Kids from TimetoPlaymag.com to see the price difference on specific products. You would be surprised. Sometimes that difference is just a matter of cents, but a lot of times it can be a difference of $10 or more! Check out exactly how the app works over at MyMamihood. She's also breaking down how she's shopping this season.
#4: Use Gift Cards 5 of 11
No, we aren't all lucky enough to have gift cards laying around the house, but you can get your hands on some. Target, for example, usually gives you a $5 gift card when purchasing everyday products. In fact, I received a $5 gift card when I bought my shampoo last week. Other stores also give out gift cards with purchases. Check out this list of places that offers gift cards on Living Mi Vida Loca.
Tip #5: Start Shopping Now 6 of 11
I have never waited until Black Friday nor have I ever shopped that day. Crowds give me anxiety and after hearing about people using guns, or people fist fighting over dolls, the whole idea just loses any sense of fun. I start shopping in October, buying one to two gifts a week and using cash or debit instead of a credit card. Starting now also ensures that you get exactly what you are looking for; believe it or not, stores give great discounts now too.
#6: Shop Clearance 7 of 11
Stores need to make room for all the new holiday items they hope to sell, which means fall and early winter items start going on sale to make room. I was able to get one of the girls on my list a dress, purse, and a few headbands for only $16.60, $5.27 under my budget.
Tip #7: Get Creative 8 of 11
Sometimes purchasing a small toy will cost you the full budget that you've allotted for each child. Browse sites like Pinterest for ideas. Gifts from the heart mean so much more. Doing something like a movie night box that includes PJs, popcorn bowls with popcorn, hot chocolate packets, and an actual movie is more exciting than say, a toy car that they will tire of in 5 minutes. My movie box ended up costing roughly $14 per kid, which was $7.87 under budget. You can also check out these other creative ideas from Everyday Mom Ideas.
Tip #8: Coupons 9 of 11
I had a coupon for $10 off every $100 spent and two $5 coupons that had no restrictions. I had a few things on my shopping list that I needed to buy for my home, like groceries, so hitting $100 wasn't hard. After getting what I needed, I picked out my gifts one being a $20 watch, $1.85 under budget. After using the coupons, the watch was technically free. Make sure you read the coupons carefully; some stores will tell you that you can only use one. If the coupon does NOT specify that, then you can and should ask for a manager. Sometimes you can also use a coupon from both the manufacturer as well as the store, so browse online for coupons first. That can be the difference between paying $5 for a toy instead of the usual $15. Check out store sites for coupons and savings.com.
Image via Savings.com
Tip #9: Re-Gift 10 of 11
This one is tough but if planned correctly, it can work. My daughter, whose birthday is in October, sometimes gets gifts that do not work for her. They might be the wrong size or color. Occasionally, she'll get multiples of the same gift. 9 out of 10 times, these gifts do not come with gift receipts, but if you are familiar with the brand or a store's policy, you can in fact exchange or return for a gift card. If it is a really nice gift, I'll save it for the holidays. Just make sure you are not re-gifting to the person who gave you the gift in the first place. That's a serious no-no.
Tip #10: Giveaways 11 of 11
You are reading my blog posts on Babble, so I will assume you read other blogs as well. Mom blogs are notorious for gift giveaways during the holidays. I just signed up for a $1,000 gift card. Yes, you read that correctly. I myself will have a beauty giveaway soon and others have toy giveaways. I always say I never win anything but in reality, I've signed up for 5 giveaways in the past and have won 2!
Side note: These same bloggers do giveaways often, so watch out during Mother's Day and other major holidays as well.