I know, I know, we’re just starting to get Back To School under way, but my little brother jokingly suggested we get him something (really expensive) for Christmas this year, and I immediately shot back that he’d be lucky to get a box of candy.
…And I’ve been thinking about Christmas every since.
Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what a huge financial burden it can be.
We personally keep Christmas very small in our family, and I wouldn’t consider us financially constrained, but I *still* suffer from sticker shock every year.
If you celebrate Christmas, I’m betting you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So, knowing that Christmas is just 5 months away, the best thing we can do is start preparing for it right now. Whether it’s with one or a variety of tactics, put Christmas on your radar, and start getting ready!
- Set up a “Christmas” category in your monthly budget. Figure out how much you want (or are willing) to spend on Christmas this year and divide it by five. Setting aside a small part of your paycheck every month will make Christmas much less of a strain, and having a Christmas budget set and funded will help you avoid potential credit card debt.
- Buy toys you know you want ahead of time. I know it’s hard to know exactly what your kids will want too far in advance, but if there’s any way to do it, do it! The obvious reason is you can watch for sales on that toy and snatch it up at its lowest price. But… I just finished reading (via audible) the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, in which the author breaks down all the tactics marketers use to get you to buy their products.
One of the more sinister methods he talks about in the book is how toy companies keep their sales up after Christmas by making the toys kids really, really want scarce during the holidays so that you won’t be able to give them to your kids for Christmas, but will come buy them after New Year. I highly recommend reading the book – but prepare to be a bit shocked!
- Start Using Ebates. By signing up for an Ebates account, you will automatically get $10, but that’s just one tiny benefit compared to the ongoing savings. In fact, when you shop through Ebates, you earn anywhere from 2-30% (depending on what retailer you purchase from) cash back on everything purchased. It’s insane! I’ve personally earned several hundred dollars using Ebates, and if you use Ebates throughout the year for all of your online purchases, you can actually earn a big enough check to buy all your Christmas presents for free! Sign up for Ebates here.
The bottom line is strategically planning ahead will always save you money!
Here’s to a happy, affordable, and debt-free Christmas this year! (Now, time to go back to splashy canon balls at the pool!)