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Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Shopping...On a Budget

Shopping and budgeting don't generally go hand in hand, and it can be so tempting to just throw our budget out the window when Christmas time approaches. Credit card companies are trying to lure you in to a debt trap, and there is so much pressure to buy bigger and better gifts every year. I know. It's hard. 

Here are some helpful tips that work for our family when getting ready for the Holidays.

1) Remember that Christmas isn't about presents. Nope not at all, it's about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Do we give presents? Why yes, we do. We give and get gifts because it's fun, it's tradition, and it's a birthday party for crying out loud! What you shouldn't be doing is strictly focusing on the gifts, trying to one-up your neighbors or your child's schoolmates. There is constant pressure to buy the most expensive new gadgets or the $100 name-brand rain boots your teenager seems to think they cannot live without. I cannot for the life of me understand paying an exorbitant amount of money for rubber boots, I just CAN NOT. {off soapbox} Don't fall in to the trap of purchasing gifts that you can't afford or plain out don't need just to "keep up" with society.

2) Set your budget at the beginning of the year for Christmas. Okay so it may be a little late for this one this year, but at least you can go ahead and get ready for next year. Many banks and employers offer a Christmas Club account. You can deposit a set amount of money every paycheck in to this account and it pays out in November. There is usually a penalty for drawing the money out early in order to encourage you to keep the money in the account for its purpose. You won't even notice you are saving and when Christmas rolls around you have enough money to cover what you are planning to spend.

3) Don't go in to debt for Christmas. DO NOT go in to debt for Christmas, it's just not worth it. Remember what I said about Christmas not being about presents? Don't buy things you cannot afford just for the sake of buying Christmas presents. Make your traditions less about gifts and more about spending time with friends and family. Maybe cook a special breakfast Christmas morning or bake cookies together Christmas Eve. Memories with friends and family are what your children will remember, not the gifts they receive.

4) This may get me in to trouble, but for the sake of being honest I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I save gifts given to my child during the year, maybe for a birthday or maybe even the Christmas before and re-gift them to her. I know this is limited to age because at some point she will figure out my tricks, but many times she gets so many gifts she can't keep track of what she received. {She's a very blessed little girl.} I will sneak away gifts and put them in a special hiding place for a later date. These gifts then re-appear at Christmas time. No money was spent. Sue me.

5) Shop for the best deals. This doesn't mean you have to go out at midnight on Thanksgiving and risk your life in the freezing cold to save $5. I can promise you, I can't hang with the Black Friday crew. We do most of our Christmas shopping online. Why? I can get cashback on my purchases through Ebates. What is that? Check out my post {HERE}. I can also usually do a quick google search and find the best price on what I'm looking for. I can then search out a coupon code for the website I'm purchasing from. And then after I purchase I get cashback from Ebates. I'm also saving gas money and getting to shop in my bed in my pj's. WIN. 

Don't let Christmas become a stressful time for you or your family because of money. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It's also about creating traditions and memories with friends and family. And maybe about gaining 10 pounds eating red velvet cake {cough, cough Aunt Kathie you know I like my cake}. It's not about who can spend the most money. Don't wake up on New Years morning facing a credit card bill you can't pay.

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