Most of us cannot squeeze the expenses of Christmas – gifts, food, outings, etc. – into a regular month’s budget, which is why the typical family ends up putting hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on credit cards at the end of year and crossing their fingers that they can pay for it before the process starts again the next December.
We are committed to NOT getting in debt for Christmas, so we’ve learned some ways to make it work:
- Buy inexpensive gifts.
- Limit the gift-giving list.
- Cut back or eliminate other expenses (clothing, etc.) during December.
- Make gifts at home.
- Give gifts from the kitchen.
- Upcycle gift-wrapping.
- Decorate with natural elements.
Buy Gift Cards Throughout the Year
There is another great idea I read in a magazine several years ago that we have implemented a few times with some success. The idea is to set aside money every month (or every paycheck, whichever is more convenient) throughout the year to spend at Christmas, but instead of setting up a separate savings account (which is, of course, an excellent option), use that money to buy gift cards at stores you know you will shop during the Christmas season. You can even purchase gift cards to grocery stores and restaurants for the extra food you will buy and eat out during the busy season.
Save Even More Money
I like to purchase the gift cards at a discount through places like Gift Card Rescue, where people trade in their legitimate unused gift cards or store credit cards, which are then offered for sale at a discount. Since most of the gift cards are at least 5%, and often more like 10%, off the value, I think it’s a better deal than opening a savings account that might earn you a percentage or two of interest during the course of the year. Sign up for their newsletter so you can keep on top of the gift card deals.
To make sure I don’t inadvertently use the gift cards, I keep them in a marked envelope stashed somewhere out-of-the-way in my home (this year, that place was my DH’s sock drawer).
If you are diligent about purchasing (or otherwise procuring) these gift cards throughout the year, then come Christmas season, you will be ready to handle whatever expense is thrown your way!
How do you budget for Christmas spending?
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