As slow as Christmas…
We have heard that before, yet before we know it, it is Christmas time again!
I really want the focus of Christmas to be Christ. Too often the financial part of it adds so much stress that my focus is taken off of Christ. I’m usually stressed because I have not prepared for Christmas financially. I say I’m going to every year, but never have a plan.
Well, this year I do and I am sharing it with you. Here are some ways I am preparing financially for Christmas.
1. Have a Christmas fund!
When I taught school the school system I worked for offered to set up a Christmas Fund up for us at a local bank. We decided how much we wanted to deposit into the account each month, and they deposited it for us! It was great!
I want to start this again. This time it will be slightly harder, because I no longer teach there and will have to do this for myself. So be it!
To do this, decide how much you want to spend on Christmas and divide by twelve. If you think it is too much, lower you expectations and start again.
2. Shop all year long.
This one is hard for me too. Mainly, because when I go shopping, say in March, I’m not thinking about Christmas. Or if I do I think “I don’t have the money right now, I’ll get it later,” only for later to never come.
Take some extra cash with you just for Christmas. Even just $5 will get some stocking stuffers. Look for bargains and small gifts for teachers, co-workers, neighbors. Those are usually the gifts that throw my whole budget out of whack.
3. Homemade gifts!
Some of the most precious gifts I have are the homemade ones. I love to go to my sisters houses and see the gifts I made them years ago still hanging on their walls.
You don’t have to be crafty or creative. The internet is full of ideas with easy directions to follow.
4. Christmas cards!
There are a few of ways to save with Christmas cards.
1) Cut back on the amount you send out. I’m not crazy about this idea, but sometimes it is necessary.
2) E-cards/e-mail. These are becoming very popular. Again, I’m not crazy about this. I like going to the mailbox and pulling out cards! Call me old-fashion, but I love it!
3) Make your own cards. Again, you don’t have to be crafty or creative. Just Google homemade Christmas cards and you will have plenty of ideas. A package of card stock and a box of envelopes is a lot cheaper than several boxes of cards.
4) Do a card exchange at church. A few of the ladies at our church volunteer to collect, sort and hand them out at church! All free of charge. You may need to get the ball rolling on this, but it really isn’t as time consuming as you think, and it makes for a fun ladies night out. Just set the date for all cards to be turned in (keeping in mind a few will also be late) and a date the cards will be distributed.
5. Pare down on the number of gifts you give.
Is it really necessary for there to be tons and tons of gifts under the tree? Let the kids pick 2-3 gifts they really want. No since in wasting money on a bunch of toys that will only be played with on Christmas day. Make sure the gifts are age appropriate. Too many times I have bought toys or games my kids were not old enough to play with and they were just frustrated with them.
Do you really have to buy for all the nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles? Talk to the family about eliminating gifts altogether, or just buying for the family as a whole. Get a movie, and some popcorn as a family gift.
6. Stock up on baking supplies early.
November is the month grocery stores put baking supplies on sale. Get extra for December baking. Make a menu plan and stick to it!
7. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.
Make a gift list, check it twice, then stick to it. When you ask the kids what they really want for Christmas, set a date that is the final date to gt requests in. After that, no changing of the mind. When you shop, stick to your list!
8. Make a list for next year.
As you wrap presents, and bake those yummy cookies, and decking the halls, keep a list of what you have, What you used and what you need for next year. Will you need more wrapping paper, tape and gift tags? Do you need to replace strings of lights or decorations or maybe even the old tree stand? Shop for these things right after Christmas when they are on sale. Great time to stock up on Christmas cards, too!
9. They will never know!
Say you have set a limit of $20 on each niece and nephew. If you find that doll your niece really wants on sale for $10. There is no need for you to go and spend another $10 on her. She will never know. Your nephew may notice that she got two presents and he only got one. Trying to explain that you spent the same amount is pointless. They will never know!
These are just some of the ways I save at Christmas. I would LOVE to hear your ideas! Please share in the comments your saving ideas.