Every year at Christmas my husband and I have quite the list of people to shop for; parents, nephews, brothers, sisters, friends and other family members.
We don’t go overboard or buy elaborate gifts, but with the list above, even the smallest, yet most meaningful items can quickly add up.
And now that we’ve added our own kids to that list there’s even more shopping to be done.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. This is my favourite time of year for many reasons; one of those being the spirit of giving. I love to give more than I like to receive, which can lead to a very big issue…having the money to spend.
Since I haven’t been working over the past two Christmases our dollar has to stretch even more.
So how do we do it? How do we buy for more than a dozen people and come out debt free?
Well we both grew up with fathers with accounting backgrounds so that helps, but it’s much more simple than that.
We do three things to help us prepare for the holiday spending season:
1. In January we start putting money into a savings account to be used on Christmas gifts. At first we were doing the 52 week challenge (i.e.: week one you put aside $1, week two $2 and so on until you get to week 52 putting $52 aside). This is a great way to save and the money starts adding up very quickly. I’ll admit though that once we got about half way through, putting aside that much each week felt a little too tight for comfort for us. So instead we did $20/week until we started our Christmas shopping in late November.
My husband actually surprised me with this savings technique the first time around. I had no idea that he had been saving up all year behind my back. November hit and as I was about to panic thinking of the money we needed to buy the gifts, he surprised me with the amazing news that he had planned ahead…a whole year ahead and we had all of the money needed for Christmas. Amazing! Now it’s something we do every year and I couldn’t be happier.
2. Before you head out to the stores be sure to make a list. Put on it the people you plan to buy for along with a general dollar amount you’re comfortable spending. Having a list keeps you accountable and on track so be sure to stick to it.
3. Look for sales. There’s always online sales and if you sign up to be on the stores mailing list you’re sure to receive deals ranging from free home delivery to 50% off items. Black Friday sales in Canada were amazing this year, especially online, so be sure to get some of your shopping done around that time.
In the end, it’s the thought that counts…but staying in the black rather than the red after all is said and done, is a nice feeling too.