What do you think of when you hear “Christmas”? I think GIFTS! So when you want to know how to save money on Christmas shopping, it probably sounds impossible. There’s too much to BUY.
Let’s be real, the best part of Christmas was and will always be the Santa crazed excitement you had when you were a kid. That nostalgic feeling is probably the only reason why we shell out so much cash every year in the first place.
Saving money during the holidays is not an oxymoron.
Spending and saving are opposites, but they can be synonymous. I never want to pay full price for anything, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep my frugal side happy.
Saving money is my number one priority, because it frees up money for everything else. ANYTHING else. So when I save extra money on Christmas gifts, then I have leftover money for Christmas gifts! That’s the only way I can justify going broke around the holidays. I want to teach you how I easily maximize my money.
1. Start early
I’m talking ASAP. It’s easily to go overboard when you’re rushing around at the last minute.Why do we wait until the last minute anyway? One word: SALES
The holiday season is awesome because of all the great sales which are both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because yay, saving money and a curse because they can be so hard to resist.
But there are great sales year round, so there’s no need to wait. If you’re worried about not reaping the benefits of holiday sales, Paribus is worth checking out.
Paribus checks your email for receipts and scans their list of retailers for price drops. If they find a deal you missed out on, they’ll pay you the difference…! I’m the kind of person who sits on a cart full of stuff and watches for sales and price drops. Sometimes I score, but more often than not, nothing happens and I end up buying it a month later. Then after all that waiting, it gets a deep discount a week after I muster up the courage to purchase… @#%!
Paribus is 100% free, and they don’t even shave a profit off the top. You can check it out here.
I used to dream about having all of my shopping done before the end of October, like my friend’s grandma used to. They had massive mound of presents on Christmas Eve AND Christmas Morning.
Of course, that was all Santa’s doing. My mom was a part of that Grandma’s inner circle, and she eventually shared her secrets with me.
She would start as early as July and be done by October. That way she could focus of the season without spending all of her free time wrapping. Thanksgiving and Christmas activities are time consuming as it is.
2. Make a list (& check it twice)
Spoiler alert: You are playing Santa.
No but seriously. Making a list is essential to avoid losing track of who gets what, what’s been purchased, and how much you have left. Otherwise you’ll buy someone a few gifts, lose some things in your secret-gift-hiding-spot, or just forget someone altogether. Don’t deny it!
My mom once threw away a necklace for me because SHE FORGOT SHE BOUGHT IT! Luckily, I picked it out that day so I was hunting for it before she ended up dumpster diving to get it back… Ohhhh mom….
My favorite list making tool is Amazon!
I have a Google Sheet with my list of recipients, and I use Amazon Lists to keep track of worthy (affordable & appropriate) gifts.
3. Set a budget
Once you have your list set up and you have a TON of time on your hands, you can work with the figures. This will be different for everyone, but I generally try to spend no more than $1000 on Christmas gifts. That is pretty low on the spectrum of holiday spending, or at least I think it is, but you need to have an amount in mind (even if you plan on going over).
4. Shop online
I won’t lie, I shop online year round. And apparently most people do. I mean, Amazon is killing the game (& i love them for it).
Online shopping makes price comparisons practically automatic, and if you’re paying for shipping, you’re doing it wrong. Even luxury retailers like Nordstrom offer free shipping AND returns, so please don’t pay for shipping from major retailers*. It is a scam.
*I say “major retailers” because places like Etsy and eBay offer the online marketplace vibe. Paying for shipping there makes sense. It isn’t going through a gigantic corporation which can take advantage of economies of scale.
5. Coupons codes
Online shopping makes coupons so practical, and they. are. everywhere. Seriously. Just go to OldNavy.com, and you’ll be bombarded with coupon codes and discounts. It’s the easiest way to save… IF you remember to add the code at checkout.
I used to be in the habit of searching Google for coupons before making a purchase, but those coupon websites are starting to lose their quality. A lot of the “coupons” will be for regular deals like free shipping, smh.
But I found THE PERFECT FIX and it’s Honey!
Honey is a handy browser extension that chills up there next to your search bar. When I go to a store’s website, the honey icon lights up with offers. All you have to do is click on it. There are usually rewards too, so you can accumulate *gold* to redeem for gift cards, etc.
Upon checkout, the sweetest little gold coin starts bouncing around reminding you to let honey automatically apply every coupon code possible.
I’m always skeptical of browser extensions, but I wouldn’t want to live without this one. Get honey right here, right now, so you don’t accidentally miss out on a coupon ever again. You can thank me later.
6. Rake in rewards
Since honey has coupons covered, the next trick to saving money has to be making money! Because YES you CAN make money shopping… Kinda.
The two best places for easy earning are swagbucks and Rakuten (formerly eBates). They both offer a reward for swinging through their website before you start shopping, but swagbucks are redeemable for gift cards and ebates will send you a check.
Rakuten is strictly for shopping, while swagbucks covers everything. You can earn swagbucks (SB) by watching videos, taking surveys, and even searching like you would with google.
In the vain of making extra money over the holidays, Rakuten is essential. If you sign up with my link here, you’ll get $10 EXTRA when you spend your first $25 with them. Stop shopping and get Rakuten ASAP!
7. Quality over quantity
Basically, when you want to save money, less is more, but there’s a condition. The fewer gifts you get, the better value they should bring.
I understand the struggle of wanting to suffocate your Christmas tree with a bajillion presents. How could we not? I’ve seen enough glorious Christmas Morning Spreads on Instagram to make me think I’ve completely failed as a mother. Haven’t you?
It is so tempting to load up on filler, but in reality it’s just a waste of money. My mom still spends money on dozens of worthless knick knacks, but always came up short on the bigger, more expensive items.
Then there is my aunt, who GETS IT. Outside of stocking stuffers, she buys maybe 1 or 2 high ticket items in the place of dozens of junky doodads. That is what I wish my mom did, because it frees up a TON of time AND the total cost of Christmas is probably pretty similar.
Going big on a couple things will no doubt outshine all the crap that you bought just to make it look like there is a ton of stuff. Little kids in particular are going to gravitate to one of two things anyway.
Young kids might think they want a thousand gifts, and they might not! It’s up to you to set the stage in a way that works for your family and your budget.
The best way to save money on Christmas will save time, too
Talk about a win-win. Before I go any further, let me wrap up my money saving schemes again.
- Start early
- Make a list
- Set a budget
- Shop online
- Get ALL the coupons
- Score rewards
- Less is MORE
Following some or all of these will save you time & money so you have more of both leftover. Because let’s face it, the best part about the holidays is a cliche… it’s not about the gifts.
Squeeze your loved ones a little tighter and happy shopping!
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