“Holidays shoppers splurging on themselves…”
That’s the headline of a news article from CNBC dated December 2017. A survey by NPD Group found that 19% of consumers “definitely” plan to spend more on themselves this holiday season.
Usually around black Friday is when I start to whip out the credit card without even thinking. You know when you’re in the “spending” mood or spending habit, it makes it so easy to keep spending!
For example you’re shopping for the perfect gift for your mom for Christmas and you easily convince yourself that you need the same perfume too. It smells awesome, the bottle you have on the bathroom counter is nearing the bottom, and it’s on sale? Why not? Plus you’re already spending so much you probably won’t even notice the extra expense.
Spending on others for the holidays is a nice gesture. Spending on yourself for the holidays is an excuse to spend. Don’t use the fact that you are purchasing for others, and that many things are on sale, as a reason to overspend this holiday. Instead of retail therapy, try spending time with your loved ones!
Have you ever reached January, received your credit card statement and have your heart sink? Ugh, I didn’t realize I had spent that much money! Don’t be the person who can’t figure out how to pay off Christmas debt because you didn’t have a holiday budget, and because and you overspent – especially on yourself!
Below are some tips on how to save on Christmas Gifts
1. Create a budget and stick to it!
Make sure you plan and budget for everything! Gifts are the easiest things to think of around the holidays, but what about the rest?
- Extra tips for garbage collectors, hair dressers, servers, bus drivers, postal carriers, etc.
- Meals: the holiday meal, food for when the kids are off from school, holiday potlucks, etc.
- Secret Santa gift exchange with family, friends or colleagues
- Decor/household decorations
- Holiday cards (printing & stamps)
Create a budget that includes every single little expense you think you’re going to have. There are so many more inflated expenses this time of year that goes beyond gifts. Being realistic about those expenses will help keep your wallet prepared.
2. Don’t get caught up in the momentum of shopping
You know how you can be. So excited to have found a deal and the perfect gifts for your family. Then you see something else your child must have. You find another item perfect for your husband. I’m sure these things are nice and fit the recipient well. But if they aren’t in your budget, stop.
Don’t get so wrapped up in the momentum of pulling out your credit card that you lose sight of your budget. There will always be other gifts, and other times of the year you can shower your family with stuff. Put it back on the shelf and keep it in mind for the future. Don’t let the momentum of spending cause you to spend more than you intended to.
3. Buy a family gift
Rather than purchasing individual items for a family, consider purchasing a family gift. An example might be a gift card to a restaurant the family enjoys. Or, a gift card to the movies. Sticking with the move theme, why not purchase a seasonal DVD, some popcorn and snacks and wrap it up as a family night in?
Not only are these gifts really thoughtful and allow the family to spend more time together, but they are usually more cost-effective than purchasing gifts for each family member individually.
4. Unsubscribe from store emails
If you know you are influenced by deals popping into your inbox constantly, either unsubscribe from them or create a folder just for these types of deals. With deal-finding websites such as retailmenot.com, you’ll never miss a deal and can go and seek out deals as you need them.
Try to avoid being pushed or swayed into deals as they arrive in your inbox. As soon as one deal expires, another one is coming right behind it. Don’t fall for the trap of spending just because you receive a deal you “can’t miss” in your inbox.
5. Challenge yourself to give for less
It’s really the thought that counts. Challenge yourself to find the perfect gift at a reasonable price. Just because your child wants the latest gaming system for hundreds of dollars doesn’t mean you have to give it to them.
Try using can use Etsy or personalizationmall.com and find something personal and sentimental that the recipient will find special. Try a personalized ornament that you can hang on the tree and reminisce about year after year.
6. Leave the adults out
Can you make a pact with your family that you aren’t going to exchange gifts with the adults? Or put everyone’s name in a hat and draw one name so you only have to buy for one person?
You buy what you want throughout the year anyway and likely don’t need anything. Take the initiative to cut out unnecessary spending on the adults, and leave the fun to the kids. It’s more fulfilling to watch the little ones open gifts anyway!
7. Buy discounted gift cards as a way to save
Start using Gift Card Granny today. This is a site that buys/sells gift cards for less than their value. It provides you an unbelievable opportunity to get great deals on gift cards to retailers you frequent.
Some of my favorite gift cards that regularly have 10%, 15% or even 20% off are Kohl’s, Gap and Michael’s. It really is a no-brainer to purchase gift cards/store credit at a discount if you know you are going to be spending money at these stores anyway.
8. Avoid unnecessary gifts
There are gifts you give because you WANT to give them. Then there are gifts you feel you HAVE to give out of GUILT. Just because someone gives you a gift does not mean to have to give one in return. Gifts should be given and received because you want to, not because you feel you have to. Check yourself if you find yourself buying something out of guilt.
For example, last year for Christmas we went to a party with some close neighbors. We brought a few gifts to exchange with the other families but they were modest. One of the families ended up giving us a huge, gorgeously wrapped gift basket full of Tequila, salsa & tortilla chips, etc. It was clearly more expensive than what we gave them.
It was still a few days before Christmas and I was feeling guilty. I spoke to my husband about reciprocating this family with more gifts. After talking we decided not to. What’s done is done. We gave what we thought was an appropriate gift. They gave what they thought was an appropriate gift. Buying something now and giving it to this family is not only a direct result of guilt but also will feel forced.
This year we are planning more robust gifts for this family. Not because we feel guilty from last year, but because our friendship has grown more in the last year and I feel like I WANT to give more as a token of friendship, not because I feel I have to.
9. Make an agreement with friends or family to not exchange or purchase unnecessary gifts
Is there someone in your group of friends who is notorious for buying gifts for everyone? Or you start feeling awkward at work as the holidays approach because you’re not sure if you should give gifts to your employees and colleagues? Be proactive and approach those who are known for giving gifts and suggest you either not exchange at all, or go out for lunch instead. Just because you exchanged last year doesn’t mean you need to exchange this year.
10. Start shopping now
It’s never too early to find gifts. In fact, if you look at price fluctuations throughout the year, you may find that some items are actually less expensive at other times during the year than they are on Black Friday. Purchasing gifts now or buying throughout the year helps in a few ways.
First, you can spread your budget out over the course of the year and not feel like your wallet is bleeding for a few weeks during the year. Second, you may be able to find more unique one-of-a-kind gifts that actually fit the recipient as opposed to buying something because it’s a few days before Christmas and you still haven’t found anything for your mother-in-law.
If you had purchased that sweater for her you saw in September, you’d have the perfect gift ready to go. I recognize depending on the item, and how well it fits the recipient that returning items may be an issue if you purchase too far in advance, so this may not work for everyone. But purchasing in advance is an easy way to find cost-effective gifts the recipient will love.
Did you receive something last year that wasn’t your taste, but know it would be perfect for someone else? I would highly prefer re-gifting something to someone I know would use it and feel good knowing it’s not sitting on a shelf collecting dust than I would be knowing it’s wasting away at home.
My daughter’s birthday is on December 22nd. Between her birthday and Christmas, she gets an insane amount of toys. Between the volume of toys and the duplicate toys without gift receipts, she has an excess of toys this time of year.
Because my daughter is so young, she doesn’t remember all of the gifts she’s opened. So after she’s unwrapped her gifts we will let her actually open up a few to play with immediately. The rest we take to the basement to hide.
Those we plan on keeping, we stash on a shelf. Rather than overwhelm her with so many toys at once, and because her birthday and Christmas are so close together, we stockpile a few and give them to her throughout the year. When we give them to her throughout the year, we are honest with her that they were birthday or Christmas gifts and remind her who they were from. She has so much fun getting new toys throughout the year!
Those gifts that are unopened that she has a duplicate of, or are possibly too young for her we stash elsewhere. I’ll literally label these gifts and plan to re-gift them to my niece who is a year younger or donate to Toys for Tots. I make my daughter whole by assigning a value to the toy, say $20. So when regift or donate, I’ll put $20 in my daughter’s savings account. Everyone wins!
12. Give something homemade
Are you an awesome painter/drawer? Do you make some killer salsa? Do you give awesome back massages? Get creative when giving gifts and as it is appropriate, gift something homemade. Strike a deal with your significant other that you will not spend on each other but reciprocate a favor.
You do not win a medal for spending more money than someone else on Christmas. In many cases, you will find a homemade gift is more special than anything you will find in a store. Or the recipient has received so many store-bought gifts, that something homemade is a welcome change of pace.
Don’t think you have any skills to share? Get creative! Are you an excel wizard? Maybe you are awesome with a crock pot and have meal prep tips to share. We all have unique skills that could easily be shared with others.
Or, if you’re really ambitious, learn a new skill! I recently took up crochet and taught myself via YouTube videos. I’ve made baby blankets for nieces and nephews and infinity scarves for friends.
13. Use coupon & promo codes
Do not check out online without having a code or using a money saving app or credit card reward. Ever. You likely earn a percentage point or two by using your credit card and getting cash back. Many credit cards offer additional savings if you purchase through their portal.
For example, I have a Chase credit card. I can use the “Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall” and receive additional cash back on items if I access the store’s website through Chase. Ebates works the same way. I usually compare the rewards mall and Ebates and use whichever has the highest percentage of cash back.
Need more ideas on how to save using apps? Check out 15 money saving apps you should be using today.
14. Check Social Media for offers
Many times brands use their social media feeds to give exclusive offers to fans of the page. If you can’t find an offer for a specific brand on other sites or using a search on Google, check out the Facebook or Instagram feed of the brand you want to buy. You may find a unique code just for their social followers.
15. Focus on the reason, not the gifts
You get so caught up in buying and finding the right gift for someone, it’s easy to forget or lose sight of what the holiday season is all about. Focus on finding family time to create memories and traditions and don’t worry so much about the gifts.
Instill family values in your children and find ways to have fun and make memories that don’t involve money. Go outside and make a snow angel. Make a gingerbread house and decorate it with your kids. Volunteer at a food bank. Be grateful for all of the good things in your life, all of which are probably not things.
16. Gift after Christmas
Are there any gifts you can put off until after the holiday? There are so many awesome post-Christmas deals you can save money on. Consider a New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day exchange of gifts with one side of the family or group of friends. Or make it a game. Everyone put off purchases until the 26th or later and see who can find the best gift with a $20 budget.
17. Create a gift-giving theme among a group
- Exchange your favorite bottle of wine or alcohol up to $20.
- Everyone makes their favorite frozen meal, and exchange. You get to taste someone else’s delicious meal, get to enjoy it with your family and will be reminded of the giver when you eat it.
- Choose your favorite childhood movie and exchange a copy with others in the group. Reminisce about how often you watched it and quote your favorite lines.
18. Gift a donation
We all receive way too many physical gifts to even appreciate all of them around this time of year. Consider making a donation in the name of the recipient to a cause or charity meaningful for the recipient. You get to give something meaningful and make an impact on a charity that can use your generosity.
19. Gift a subscription the recipient will use over and over again
There are so many subscription type services out there. Rather than spending on an item, perhaps the recipient would enjoy a service. Examples could be an Amazon Prime membership, or a membership to Shipt grocery delivery service.
Related: Shipt Grocery Delivery Review
The recipient may not be able to justify spending money on something like this for themselves, but would gladly accept a gift.
20. Split the cost with others
Is there an expensive item you want to get your dad but it’s out of your price range? Maybe your sibling will pay for half. Or if it’s expensive, consider it a Christmas gift and birthday gift. Give the gift at Christmas with a card that says “Merry Christmas & Happy Birthday.” Then when their birthday rolls around, send a nice card that says “Hope you are enjoying xyz gift.” Stick to your budget and if something is more expensive than what you have allotted, considering it to be a gift for more than one celebration will help defray the cost.
There is a reason for the season, and it’s about more than material things. Give what you want, to who you want, and stay on budget. Spending more won’t make the season any merrier. Keep your wallet joyful but not overspending this holiday season.
What is your biggest holiday savings hack?