If you’re anything like me, you changed your calendar the day after Halloween (oh alright, it was like a week after Halloween) and realized that Christmas is just around the corner! Which means Christmas shopping is already starting!! And then you realized that Christmas is going to be pretty lean this year since that Christmas savings account you opened in January has a whopping $50 in it.
I always start the year with the best of intentions to save for Christmas the entire year. We usually have a bit of a spending hangover by January 1 so I vow to work it into the budget. And I do! The idea is to slowly put money away with each paycheck. And then every year, without fail, stuff comes up. We have birthdays, holidays, trips, weddings, baby showers, house repairs and who knows what else. And the first place we look is that pile of money that’s just sitting there. It just calls to us “I’m just enough for new tires on the car, don’t worry, it’s only April, there’s plenty of time to earn more!!”
Earn more we will!! And we do. But then more stuff comes up and more stuff and life just kind of happens and before you know it it’s time to buy Christmas gifts. And I have to get pretty creative to make it happen, but I do it. Every year we have a great Christmas despite all the spending roadblocks along the way.
Maybe one day I’ll actually really save for Christmas all year long, but in the mean time, here are my favorite ways to stretch our budget AND plan a great Christmas.
Cut out the non-essentials
I know that morning trip to the coffee shop feels essential, but you could probably make coffee at home that tastes just as good and is way, way cheaper. Make more dinners at home, take your lunch to work, and ease up on buying other home decorations and extra clothes. Yes, I know that Joanna Gaines just came out with a new line at Target, resist the urge!!!
I bet you’d be surprised at how much you spend each month on non-essentials and don’t even realize it. It can add up fast and if you cut back now, you’ll find some spending money for Christmas before Black Friday!!
Spread Out the Spending
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be finished in one day either. Try spreading it out over the next month. It will be a lot easier to find a smaller amount of money every couple of weeks. Start by buying gifts for the kids and your spouse and then work your way out to other relatives, friends, and coworkers.
And here’s a a little bonus tip, if you have family or friends that you don’t see on or before Christmas (maybe they live far away) save their Christmas shopping for after Christmas!! You’ll score tons of deals, shorter lines at the post office, and it gives you a little more time to spread out your spending.
Consider Cutting Back
We have a pretty minimalist Christmas and we love it!! We don’t buy the kids a ton of gifts because it’s just overwhelming and we don’t spend a ton of money buying presents for others. Most of the time my husband and I don’t even buy gifts for one another! For distant family we send cards and pictures of the family, and I rarely buy new decorations. We keep Christmas small and therefor inexpensive. If you typically buy presents for everyone you know consider alternatives like homemade baked goods.
Resist the urge to buy every single new ornament that Target has. I only buy two new ornaments every year. I choose one for the family and I let Bubbaloo choose one that he likes. We have them personalized as keepsakes for the future! This year Nugget will get to pick his ornament, too. That’s it. Just three new ornaments this year.
It’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. But that’s not what it’s about. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and spending time with family and friends. So if you’re panicking about how you’re going to afford all those gifts consider cutting back a bit and focusing on the true meaning of the season!!
Pick Up an Extra Shift or A Small Side Job
My husband usually has the opportunity to work one or two extra shifts a week if he wants. He typically doesn’t but sometimes as we approach the holidays he might! If you have a job where you get paid for OT consider one or two extra shifts between now and Christmas. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much money you can make!
And if you don’t have a job where you can make OT (or you stay home like me) consider alternatives like babysitting! A lot of people need babysitters around the holidays and you could easily make $100 in one night!! Side jobs or extra shifts are a great way to put a little extra cash in your pocket right away!
Sell Your Stuff
You know that old bike you haven’t ridden in 6 years? Or maybe the snowboard that you’ve ridden once? Sell it!! There’s no time like the present and it’s a fast way to earn some extra spending money for the holidays. Plus, it’s so easy! Just snap a picture and put it online. It’s almost effortless!! You can clear out space in your house and make money, it’s a win-win!
Shop the Holiday Deals
Ok, this isn’t really a tip to help you come up with more money, but it sure will help the money you do have stretch as far as possible. Buying presents now is great, but if you can wait you might find some awesome deals! Most stores these days have some kind of Black Friday special and you’d be surprised what you can find on sale. I’m talking big savings on some of the most sought after items of the year. I have one present that I’m waiting to buy because I just know I’ll get a good deal on Black Friday.
If you’re a Black Friday abstainer (I was for years) you might want to flip through those ads this year. Shopping on Black Friday is usually much less dramatic than it sounds and the savings is well worth it! Especially if you’re trying to make your dollar stretch.
These tips are so easy you could start today!! Start by skipping after work drinks tonight and see if you can find a babysitting job for the weekend. You’ll have extra holiday money saved up in no time!