Christmas always comes quick around here. I’m always caught off guard and end up running around like a crazy lady trying to get everything done. Plus, with a baby on the way I really wanted to be conscious of just how much we were spending. Money can get tight from time-to-time, like I’m sure most families can be. I wanted this year to be memorable with some surprises, but I didn’t want it to break the bank.
So I planned ahead. A few weeks before Thanksgiving I came up with a list of what to get everyone in my family and J’s family, plus I added in my work gifts that we exchange. Then I decided on a budget per gift, which was really helpful when it came to sticking to it. Last year and in years past, I just decided on an overall budget for everyone. But that never seemed to work. I always ended up going over. So this year, I went about it a little different. Each person had their own budget. If I went over on one then I had to cut from someone else. It’s rough and cold, but it had to be done.
I was really frugal with everyone’s budget. I tried hard to think of gifts that were reasonable and that people would really love. Then I did a bit of research before assigning their budget. That way I was educated when it came to creating my overall savings goal.
Then I shopped smart. I used ebates.com*, which I talked about the other day (check out how I make money shopping).
I enlisted my saved total from my Walmart Savings Catcher, I shopped Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, used free shipping coupon codes and found gift packages that I could use for multiple gifts.
Once I purchased a gift, I immediately updated my spreadsheet. I kept my Christmas List handy by using Google Sheets, which I love. I could pull it up anywhere, no matter what device I was using. I would add what I purchased, highlight the person showing they were done and then entered in the actual amount I spent.
I went over on my father-in-law’s gift, but luckily my cousin gift exchange present wasn’t as much as I was planning. So in the end it evened out and no one had to suffer. But without using a budget-per-person I wouldn’t have been able to see it. I would have kept spending money like it was coming from a tree and by Christmas-time we would have been hurting.
Also, by using my $70 from my Savings Catcher I was able to cut down a huge portion of our Christmas budget, which really helped us! We ended up coming in $100 under budget this year! I was pretty impressed with it.
Here are my top tips for doing Christmas on a budget:
- Make a list of everyone you have to shop for – include family, friends, and co-workers.
- Give each person their own budget and me strict with the budget you give.
- Shop deals like Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- Search for Coupon Codes before shopping. I use Coupon Sherpa on my phone when I’m in store and just Google any other place while shopping online.
- Don’t use credit cards to purchase any gifts – use cash!
- Take advantage of money saving apps and websites – ebates.com* is my favorite and the Walmart Savings Catcher app.
- Create inexpensive gift baskets that really mean a lot. You can find items for a gift basket that don’t cost too much, but can be really personalized. The DIY Mommy has some really great gift basket ideas that are super easy and really impressive!
- Don’t be afraid to make something. I did this last year with homemade Christmas ornaments and they went over great. Check out my tutorial here.