Squeezing Every Penny's Worth

Paying for Christmas
Part 3: Getting the Most for Your Money

You've saved.
You've planned.
And now you must shop. Well, at this point, you're probably almost done shopping. At the time I'm typing this, I have one more present to take care of and several to wrap, but I think (fingers crossed) that I'm done purchasing. I'll take the time to do a wrap up of how we did, maybe over break, but I think we are on target to be on-budget - hooray! Here are some of my tips.

Online Shopping:
We don't have a debit card, so any online shopping we do is on the credit card. Let's face it, there are just some things that are easier to get with Amazon Prime. I just made sure I kept track of what I purchased, took that amount of cash out of the envelope, and deposited it in the bank. That way, I still have the "feeling" of spending cash, a physical reminder that I have less now to work with, and cash in the bank for when the statement comes in the mail.

Sharing the Load:

It can be hard when you're trying to stay under a certain dollar amount but you see that one more cute thing that you know your daughter or son is going to LOVE. That is what your tribe is for! If you are blessed to have people in your life who love to love your kids, let them in on the fun! Grandparents, aunts, uncles, best friends, whomever - they would love to purchase something that they know your kids want and are excited for. Over the years, I have even divvied up the list in advance, knowing my brother loves buying music and movies, my one aunt loves buying books and gift cards, and my husband's best friend loves buying them the outlandish or over the top stuff that no one else will get them. Giant, three times the size of them bean bag chairs, anyone? Farm out your list people, trust me. 

The Thank You Gifts
The major gift categories, while they hold a higher price-tag per person were actually the easiest to stay within our budget. It's all the other little things that tend to trip me up. Because while $5 and $10 gifts here and there aren't much, when it's 7 teachers and 2 bus drivers and neighbors and your secret Santa at work and hostess gifts and holiday tips it adds up!

I go with gift cards. In several small denominations to popular chain or local places. That way you know you have the person covered with a gift to give, it's something that they will use and consume and not have to store, and you can get them for anyone without worrying about size or color. For my kids' teachers, I made a little coin purse pouch to put them in, just to make them a little more special. But I sew for a living, so...

Something Handmade
Whether it's cookies or fudge or some other treat, or a handmade item that you know your friends or family will love, a handmade gift is always a good idea. You only have to pay for the materials, and then have the time to pull it off of course, but it's definitely a great option for saving and stretching 
those dollars. 

The most expensive item on my gift list this year? I paid $0 for it. I had time and a service I was willing to trade and a talented friend who was willing to do the same. Mutually beneficial to both of us and the result is my husband's Christmas gift this year. Can't spill the details. I'll share more next time! But think about the people you know, the gifts and talents they have...could you orchestrate a trade that works out for both of you? Being in the handmade business world, this comes up a lot but I bet there are other areas of expertise out there where this would work as well. It takes some thinking outside of the box but the result is often very rewarding. 

When you have to opt out:
When you put a cap on the amount you have to spend, at some point you will reach that cap. Pre-planning the things that you are going to opt out on makes saying no easier to do. Removing obligatory gifts, events, and traditions can seem scary at first, but they can also bring an immense sense of peace once you cross them off your list. This is going to look vastly different for each of us. Only you can say what items need to remain on your holiday list. Some of the things we have let go over the years are: presents for each other (not a hard and fast rule, but usually), presents for my brother and his wife (we buy for each other's kids), one full family get together (so that we can celebrate a bit with just the 4 of us), sending Christmas cards (we put a pic on Facebook), 99% of the parties we're invited to (mostly because we're unavailable, due to work). It's HARD! I'm not going to lie - do you see how I had to include a rationale or reasoning for each one?! But it's helped us too. I'm a people pleaser, and hate to let others down. But I have to be about self-preservation sometimes. And that it 100% ok to do. This year, we are probably not going to have $ in the budget for stocking stuffers. I have never not done stockings for the kids. I still get a stocking from my parents every year. But I think it's this year's opt out. And while the kids will be disappointed, they will get over it. And it will be a big part of what motivates me next year to make sure that the $20 makes it to the envelope each week and stays there!

Final Thoughts:
I saw this quote and graphic post by The Minimalist Mom on Instagram. Her feed is here:
The Minimalist Mom. 1000 times yes to this. 

 Hope that your holidays are lovely, cozy and healthy. Thank you for joining me on this little mini series. Let me know how you did with your Christmas budget - I've been rooting for you!



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