Five ways to save money at Christmas

Just kidding.
For that reason, I wanted to share five ways to save money (and stress) at Christmas. They are simple things that add up to huge savings and a calmer you.
Those are good things, right?
Five Ways to Save Money at Christmas
1. Buy gifts for kids at garage sales in the spring and summer.
I was done Christmas shopping for my girls in June. Yes, June. I never thought I would say this, but I love garage sales. I buy almost new (and some new) clothes, toys and books at garage sales in the spring and summer and then hide them away until Christmas. I keep a list of what I’ve bought for each girl and update it as I get more things.
I would estimate that I spent less than $20 combined on their Christmas gifts. With books and clothes at 25-50 cents each at garage sales, I can’t justify buying their gifts any other way. I only buy things in great condition, and the toys they get look brand new. They probably have seven or eight gifts each, so they’re not being deprived or anything. They don’t know the difference, but our budget sure does.

2. Don’t spend much on your spouse.
Yes, your spouse is priceless and “deserves” a big gift, but does it really matter? Is the cost of the gift really a reflection of your love? Boy, I hope not. I’m not one that’s real concerned with gifts and material things (expect cameras … I really, really want a nice camera.), and my husband is the same so this isn’t an issue for us. We don’t want to go out blowing money, so we typically spend $15-$20 on a gift for each other.
I’d much rather spend time with my husband than draining our bank accounts in order to have some big, showy gift. If you can afford to do that, then that’s wonderful! I’d love to be able to buy something big and ridiculous for my husband, but that’s not the financial situation we’re in.
Do you need to re-evaluate how much you spend on your special someone?
3. Stock up on turkey, ham and baking supplies.
The holidays have food busting out at every corner. Food is everywhere, and I’m good with that. I love this time of year though because I can stock up on turkey and ham which have low prices at this time of year. I bought five turkeys the other. Honest to goodness, five turkeys are crammed into our chest freezer. Stocking up will save us money not only during the Christmas season on meat, but in the months ahead.
Baking supplies go on sale this time of year as kitchens get busy with cookie, pie and cake baking. Everything from flour and sugar, to chocolate chips and whipped topping hit their bottom prices for the year. By taking advantage of those prices now, it helps cut your grocery bill for the get-togethers you’ll be attending. Aldi is one of my favorite places to shop to get the best deals anyway, but especially in the winter for these sales.
4. Buy decorations at Goodwill, a dollar store or during after-Christmas sales.
I don’t compare my decorations with everyone’s on Facebook or Pinterest. There’s no good in the comparison game. The thing I love most about our home every Christmas are lights on our tree, the bannister and around our deck doors. It makes everything warm and cozy and is so inexpensive.
You can find cute decorations at dollar stores that will cost you at least more than double that at Walmart. If you “have” to have a certain item though, contain yourself and wait until after Christmas to hit up sales when everything is marked down at least 50 percent. Stores like Hobby Lobby usually have Christmas items 50 percent off even before Christmas, so waiting until after will reap you even more savings.
I always buy wrapping paper, gift tags, lights, etc., after Christmas. Planning a whole year ahead saves us so much money. I also never buy gift bags. I keep what I’m given and then reuse it. The same goes for tissue paper. Fold it up and reuse it.
(I really sound like a crazy lady, huh? “Save your pocket lint for …”)
I have been wanting a big Christmas tree for years. It’s been a big want, but not a need. I bought a 5-ft. tree at least 10 years ago and have never been able to justify the money for a big one — even with 1/2 off prices. But recently at Goodwill, I saw a box for a 7 ft., full, beautiful tree sitting in the corner.
I got crazy eyes.
I asked about it, and it was for sale, just not out on the floor yet. We grabbed it. All of the pieces were there and do you know how much it was? Twelve dollars. $12! I was thrilled. I told my husband that could be my Christmas present. I never cease to be amazed at the deals I can find at Goodwill and other thrift stores.
5. Don’t participate in gift exchanges.
Some of you might think I’m being a party pooper for saying that. Hear me out though. For some people, gift exchanges make them cringe because it’s just adding to the financial stress. But in order to not “look bad,” they grudgingly buy another gift with their hard-earned money just to get a gift they don’t want/need with someone else’s hard-earned money.
Look at things this way: If you don’t have the money, you don’t spend it.
Look at me and my crazy ideas!
You can still have fun watching others exchange gifts. I doubt friendships and work relationships will fall into ruin if you don’t participate. Just say you’ll pass, but maybe you can bring a snack or something else for others to enjoy. Don’t feel guilted into spending money! It’s okay to say “No.”
This season should have you basking in what the season is all about, not stressing about your bank account.
Keep it simple.
Learn to say no.
Plan ahead.
Buy doing those things you will be on your way to a less-stressed bank account and holiday.