I know your saying it’s not Christmas yet, but guess what it’s going to be here before you know it. Are you going to be ready? Christmas is less than 4 months away. You may be saying, I don’t want to think about that right now. I’m here to tell you if you want to plan a frugal Christmas you need to plan now. Being frugal does not mean giving up celebrating holidays, it does mean planning ahead and setting goals. Here are a few ideas to get you started in your planning.
Plan a Budget
Look at your budget and consider how much you have to realistically spend on Christmas. Try not to even consider credit cards because that will only get you in more debt. Plan a budget and stick to it! You will do even better if you start this at the beginning of the year. Anytime though is better than waiting until the middle of December to try and figure out where you are getting the money for Christmas gifts.
Once you know how much you plan to spend, start saving. Take how much you are planning to spend and divide it into the number of months you have left and you will know how much you need to save every month for gifts. You can even start taking your extra change and putting it into a jar. This is an easy way to collect some extra cash for the holidays. I have also heard that people collect swagbucks and turn them into Amazon gift cards. They don’t touch those cards and use them for Christmas gift money. Do what works best for you and your family.
Make a Christmas List
Write down every name you need to buy a gift for, don’t forget gift exchanges at work and other events you may be attending. Write down what you plan to buy them and how much you will be spending. As you collect enough money to buy the gifts, buy them and mark them off. This will cause you a whole lot of less stress when it gets closer to the day.
Consider Homemade Gifts
Homemade Gifts usually take more of your time, but if you plan now, you will be able to make those for your family and friends. Homemade gifts add that special touch that you took the time to do it and did not just go out and buy something. The first time I made homemade gifts, I was surprised at how much everyone really appreciated them. Homemade gifts can really save you some money if you find that you have more people to buy for than your budget allows you. This year I am planning to make homemade jelly and loafs of homemade bread and put them in a basket for much of my family and friends gifts.
Use Coupons and Drugstore Programs
A couple of years ago, I made a plan each week and went to places like Rite Aid and CVS. I used coupons and took advantage of sales and rebates or extra care bucks. I used these to get LOTS of free stuff. I placed these things in a basket and wrapped it nicely with a shrink wrap kit that I bought at the Dollar Tree and had very nice gifts. Some things in the baskets were razors, candles, tooth brushes, lotions, shower gels, shampoos, and I even found a great deal on some books that I included in the baskets. Everyone really loved the gifts that I gave that year and I spent very little money on those gifts and I started collecting early and this made it so easy to just put them together in early December and be done with my gifts.
Don’t Forget the Other Holiday Expenses
There are a lot of other expenses for the holidays. You need to plan for those as well when you are planning. Food is a big one for lots of families. Consider stocking up on items like sugar, flour, and other baking supplies you may need. These items can cost a lot if you wait until December to buy all you need. Make a list of what you plan to make and start stocking up on those items. Gift wrapping is something else you will not want to forget about. This area can cost a lot of money! You can get lots of nice wrapping stuff at Dollar stores for a whole lot cheaper and they start selling it in October so you can stock up. Don’t forget to see what you have leftover from last year before you start buying. I also think wrapping items in recyclable bags is a nice touch because most cost $1.00 and you are giving them another gift that they can use and you are helping the environment at the same time.
If you want to have a frugal Christmas, to stay in your budget, and stay out of debt then consider planning and preparing ahead of time. Planning ahead will give you the gift of peace this holiday season and take away a lot of the stress.