The holidays can be a tricky time to of year to stay financially responsible. It is so easy to get swept away by the magic of the season. I often find myself justifying spending by saying, “The kids will only be this young once.”
If you find yourself saying this too, think of this quote…
“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” ― Bob Hope
We all know the best presents in a life are not THINGS. Keep this in mind when you feel yourself being pulled into making an unneeded holiday purchases.
For the last three holidays, my husband and I have been on the Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover debt reduction plan and we’ve picked up a couple of tricks along the way.
Here are seven simple ways to spend less money this holiday season.
1. Buy on Clearance EVERY DAY
Have you heard about the clearance site zulily? It is a frugal mom’s best friend – aka, incredible prices for top brands (see a list of retailers they work with). Go check out how amazing the deals are, I’ll wait.
A couple of mom-to-mom tips:
- Clearance events open at 8amCST and usually last 72 hours (some are one-day sales). After that, they scoot away to make room for new merchandise. This is a fast moving opportunity.
- If you are looking for a specific brand, go here and click the heart next to the brand name. When they are going to be featured on zulily, you will get a notification the day beforehand!
- If you make a purchase on Friday through Saturday, zulily often offers free shipping for the remainder of the weekend.
- Grab the app for your phone. It makes it easy to shop for deals while waiting in line, at the doc office, etc.
- You can earn a $15 shopping credit by sharing the site with your friends. If they join as a new member and complete a purchase, they get $5 off and you get a $15 credit. Plus, there is no limit on the amount of credits you can earn. The site allows you to easily “share” via Facebook, Pinterest, and traditional email. Get all the details here.
WORDS OF WARNING:
- Inventory is limited and items often sell out. Don’t put a certain size in your shopping cart and expect it to be there tomorrow! Shop early in the day for the widest selection.
- Shipping can be sloooOOOoOoow. Around the holidays, zulily puts a little red gift box icon next to items they can guarantee holiday shipping.
2. Start Your Holiday Card and then WAIT
If you want to go beyond store-bought cards, keep an eye on the specials page of these three photo card sites. You can get your project started, save it and hold out for the best deal available.
I’ll be honest, I used to buy all my holiday cards through Shutterfly. Then I switched to minted a while back. I love the quality of the paper and the fact that they support independent artists, and their tree planting program.
Their pricing for holiday cards is higher, so last year I ordered postcards instead.This is the design we used:
Twisted Peppermint Holiday Postcards | Customize this design on minted
Here are a few postcard design options that are sure to stand out this holiday season.
3. PRE-SHOP Black Friday on Amazon
Don’t wait until the day after Thanksgiving for Black Friday deals, Amazon has kicked off the savings a little early. Check out all the different options:
- Black Friday (and Pre-Friday Deals) *I just bought my daughter a Furby for 50% off!
- Cyber Monday Deals
- 12 Days of Deals in December
*Be sure to also check out Amazon Local for deals near home!
Subscribe to their daily deals emails, until you find what you are looking for…
4. Go BOGO Crazy
If you’ve got little kids, be sure to keep an eye on the Melissa & Doug website for deals through the holidays. They want you to shop on their site vs buy their products on Amazon, so they are constantly offering Buy One, Get One deals (BOGO). Their classic wood toys are a personal favorites at our house. When Melissa & Doug has deals, I actually stockpile kid-approved birthday gifts (learn more).
5. Get Creative With the Wrapping
While this personalized wrapping paper from minted is AMAZING, it might not fit in the budget. I’ve heard that Hobby Lobby has the best quality paper for the cheapest price (see the full conversation here). Also, don’t underestimate the value of tissue paper. It is cheap, playful, and the simple dash of color can revive any up-cycled gift bag. Last of all, my girls love drawing, painting, or stamping their own wrapping paper.
Here are a few cute ideas:
- Make bubble-wrap-art wrapping paper: Love this! Of course, use red and green!
- Wrap gifts with maps: A creative way to upcycle…
- Create photo tags: A simple way to personalize. Make these at home!
- Stamp heart paper: Use a TP roll for this adorable paper…
6. Go BIG and Be Done
Little under the tree fillers add up, consider giving one of these non-traditional gifts this year instead:
Keep gifts to a minimum this year. Remember the quote above, redirect your child’s attention to a family-focused activity: bake cookies, play a game (see our favorites), watch one of these top holiday movies. If you do take this route, when you utilize these non-traditional gifts throughout the year, be sure to verbalize what a great “holiday gift” it is!
7. DIY Handmade Gifts from Kids
Having your child shop with you when you’re under a tight budget can be a challenge. I do most of my shopping online to avoid being overwhelmed by, “What about this?” ideas from my kids. Yet, I do want them to enjoy the spirit of giving. Check out this post for “ideas that don’t suck.”
I am proud to say that this is the first Christmas, in a long while, that we will be celebrating free of credit card debt. That my friends is an amazing feeling! I know talking finances can be challenging for families. Let’s get over that and stick together.
What other tips would you add to this list? I’d love to chat in the comments.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”