Friday, November 25, 2011

10 Money Saving Tips for Christmas

40% of all Christmas gifts are returned, donated, or thrown out.  That is an incredible waste of time, money, and landfill.  Not to mention the amount of wrapping paper that ends up in landfill.  What can we do to reduce this waste and reduce our time shopping for gifts.  So you don't break your piggy bank, here are some my suggestions: 
  1. Budget what you plan on spending.  Budget in total first with a 10% cushion for people you didn't plan on and then budget for each person on your list.  Stick to your budget.  If you don't use the 10% cushion, then spend it on yourself as a reward. 
  2. Plan your shopping trips.  Who are you shopping for and what are you buying.  Walking around aimlessly will only cause overspending mostly on yourself.
  3. Agree with family members to buy material gifts for the children only.  Limit the electronic gifts you give children.  Give them more creative for using their body and mind such as arts, crafts, books, board games, bicycles, balls, and jump ropes.  Make some of the gifts to children non-material in nature by creating coupons.  Some examples include letting them stay up pass their curfew, taking them to do something they love such as sledding, skating, or a movie of their choice, and exemption from chores for a week.  And make sure you let them use them when stated on the coupon.  
  4. Instead of exchanging material gifts, adults should agree to get together in February or March for a potluck dinner or to dine at a local restaurant and then maybe go to a concert, movie, or the theater.  February or March are good months because by then most people are tired of the cold and staying inside. 
  5. Give gifts that can be used up and not to purchase something material.  Gift certificate to someones favorite restaurant; gift certificate to attend a concert, play, musical, or movie;  gift certificates from a local company to perform a service -housecleaning, gardening, lawn care, cooking, etc., gift certificate for a service for which you have skills - massage, tax preparation, cooking, painting, repair service, babysitting, etc.
  6. Wrap gifts in paper bags (decorated or painted by your children) or newspaper and decorate with items from nature such as pine cones, holly, and small sticks.  Tie with natural string such as twine.
  7. Make your own Christmas cards if you are creative or send electronic cards.
  8. Do not put lighted decorations outside your house.  These are more for your neighbors entertainment than yours.  Plus someone always ends up in the hospital or dead every Christmas from falling off their house.  The average family spends an extra $50 - $100 in the month of December on electricity due to decorations.  Decorate inside where you'll see the decorations and use lights for the Christmas tree only if you wish.   
  9. If you are really short on cash, bake your gifts or put together a specialty basket (Michael's sells the baskets and paper).  Think about what each person would like most.  Give whole grain pasta, sauce, fresh Parmesan cheese, and a bottle of wine (start picking up wine when on sale) to someone who likes Italian food.  Give Spanish rice, salsa, tortilla shells, cheddar cheese, refried or pinto beans, peppers, and Mexican beer to someone who likes Mexican food.  For breakfast lovers, give them nitrite-free turkey bacon or sausage, homemade muffins, their favorite preserves, oatmeal, whole grain pancake mix, fresh fruit, and organic tea or coffee.  Bake breads, muffins, and/or cookies.  And please don't give fudge to your sister who has sworn off sugar or is trying to lose weight.   
  10. Don't buy Christmas gifts on December 26th for the next year unless it is generic in nature and you are sure it will be used.  Buying electronics is especially a bad idea.  Electronics change too fast.  What's in this year will be out by next year.  In addition, if something is wrong with the gift you won't be able to return it a year later.
Image: Daniel St.Pierre /

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