6 Tips to Stretch Your Money For Christmas
Well, it’s official ladies and gentlemen: the holiday season is upon us. And whether you’re the kind of person that get’s offended anytime someone doesn’t tailor their holiday wishes to your particular religious affiliation, or if you think that the entire season has been turned into another way for Corporate America to suck more dough from hard working Americans, one thing is almost for certain: you’re going to have to go holiday shopping. But seeing as my job is literally to teach you how to make/keep more of your money, today’s article is going to be how to make your money for Christmas last just a little bit longer.
I know the Christmas season can be hard on a lot of people, especially when you’ve got lots of people that you feel you need to buy for. But it really doesn’t have to be that bad, so let’s get cracking at the 6 tips I’ve got to make sure your money for Christmas actually lasts!
Tip #1 – Start Yesterday
Yeah, I know: if you take this tip literally then you realize it’s impossible. But most of you will get my point. One of the smartest things you can do to make sure you don’t go broke shopping is to leave yourself some time.
It is absolutely human nature to leave things till the last minute. After all, if that wasn’t human nature, then malls would close a couple days before Christmas. Instead, they’re open Christmas Eve, and procrastinating parents, siblings, and significant others are left scrambling around the mall like ants in a rainstorm. And when you’re shopping at 8 pm the night before Christmas, you’re not going to be in a bargain shopping mode. You’re going to be in a, “Why the fuck was I so stupid to leave this till the last minute?!” mode.
At which point, you won’t care that the soaps are ridiculously overpriced, you’ll buy them for your mom anyway. And the fact that maybe your brother doesn’t need the hard copy of the new Avengers film won’t matter; you’ll still drop $25 in BestBuy just so he has something to unwrap the next day. The point is, whatever the price of the good, you’re going to buy it.
So do yourself a favor this holiday season: start shopping around now. That way you don’t corner yourself into buying $15 Yankee candles at the mall.
…yes I know they smell good, but that’s not the point!
Tip # 2 – Check the house before you go shopping
Ok, so I know this is a terrible habit and it’s really not the point of gift giving, but it’s got some merit to it. Before you head out into the commercialized frenzy that is holiday shopping, take a couple minutes and walk around the house. Is there anything around that someone has expressed interest in, that you wouldn’t mind getting rid of? I’m not saying that because your little sister now fits into your socks that thats what you should be sending her way, but if there’s something you’ve got lying around that you haven’t used in years (I’m looking at you, CuisineArt Mixer), then find someone who could use it better/more often and send it there way.
This actually has a two-fold benefit: not only does it increase your total money for Christmas, but it will also clear some space out of your house, which always feels good. Plus you get to unload anything you received as a gift that you really don’t want. I promise I won’t tell…
Tip # 3 – Coupon sites are the bomb
I only started doing this last year, but I wish I had been doing it for a while. Guys, don’t be afraid to use coupon sites like Groupon to get some cool experiences and products for cheap. Using Groupon helps me with a couple things. First, they allow me to be a little bit more personalized. You know something along the lines of, “ I got you a 4-hour massage and spa package because you’re always complaining about how tired you are at work, so I thought this might help out at least a little bit…”
Second, they limit what you’re able to buy. I don’t know about you, but when I walk into a mall and I have no idea what to get someone, I spend hours just walking around trying to find something that fits their personality. But I waste a ton of time, and I HATE wasting time. Using discount sites allows you to really home in on what people might use, and cuts out 95% of the other retail noise that can really distract you.
Third, they’re cheaper than if you bought them on their own site! After all, this is the whole idea behind my site: to save you money. Here are some discount sites that I’ve used over the past year to get some gifts for friends/family:
Tip #4 – Experiences can be gifts, too!
Don’t be afraid to use experiences as Christmas gifts. More often than not, the memories you make will long outlast the longevity of a new Macbook Pro or a new phone. Not to mention how much cheaper they’ll be…
I’ve used this with my little brother and sister with what I think was success (either they actually had a good time or they just faked it and humored me because I am their big brother). One year my little sister said she wanted to go to a water park that was a few hours away, so she and I went up there without the ‘rents bringing down our vibe. My brother one year wanted to be slightly more refined and go to a driving range. It was much easier to do that than to come up with the funds for some gift that would have ended up in the back of their closets.
This works really well for family, because more often than not those are the people that are going to want to spend an extended period of time with you. In fact, my dad and I just discussed a new plan for the family for upcoming Christmases (once my little bro and sis are out of college): we decided that we’re going to rent a house somewhere new each year and simply vacation there! It’s so much more fun than just getting gifts, and again, the memories we make are going to last our entire lives. And hopefully we get to see somewhere new each year!
So remember that one of the best gifts you can give this year is also your most precious resource: time.
Tip # 5 – Make some goodies
This was actually a tip that I got from my mom way back when she didn’t work at the executive level for “I can’t tell you or I’d have to kill you”. But back when money was tight, she and I would take the time to make our own gifts and send those off to people. Again, this has the added benefit of you spending your time, not necessarily your money, and you get to personalize it to those who are receiving it.
There was one year we made beeswax candles (I was 7 and thought that making candles was pretty much the coolest thing since Pokemon and Gameboy Color). There was another year I think we made decorated glasses. Last year, my sister made me and my girlfriend these really cool mugs that were tie-die (hers pink, mine blue). And this year for my family I’m making… well, I won’t go into detail on the off-chance they read this, but it’s gonna be DUHLISH!!!!
So keep in mind, often making a little craft or some sort of consumable that’s either useful, tasty, or smells good, is a great way to to not only personalize your Christmas gifts, but also take it easy on your wallet and save some of that money for Christmas.
Tip #6 – Don’t think you need to outdo last year
This is something that has gotten my family stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you’re constantly trying to outdo what you did last year, then eventually there will come a time that you’re either going to be spending a ridiculous amount of money or you’re going to leave someone disappointed.
Maybe one year you’re getting a loved one an iPod. Then the next year it becomes an iPhone. Then an iPad, Macbook Pro, iMac, and eventually the only thing more expensive to buy for someone is going to be those $250,000 tickets to space.
Even though those would be sweet gifts…
But if you’re constantly trying to outdo whatever was purchased last year, you’re either going to end up broke or feel ridiculous that you haven’t kept up with the Jones’. So take a step back, and really evaluate whether or not the person you’re buying for really needs what you’re getting them.
After all, something hand made or prepared just for them might give them way more joy then another expensive piece of technology.
Oh, and it’ll keep WAY more cash in your pocket. 🙂
Stretching Your Money For Christmas – The Wrap Up
While any advertisement between the months of October and January would want you to think otherwise, you really don’t have to burn hundreds of dollars in order to get awesome Christmas presents that people will appreciate. In fact, the expensive items might have more “wow” factor, but the staying power of gifts are going to lie in the thoughtfulness and the time you put into them, not how much they cost. Remember, when it comes to not spending too much money for Christmas, here’s what you can do:
- Start yesterday
- Check the house before you leave it to go shopping
- Coupons sites rock a lot
- Experiences can make better gifts than products
- Make something consumable
- Don’t think that you always need to outdo yourself
So when it comes to Christmas, do you think more money equals better gifts? What tips and tricks have you used in order to get by and not dropping a ton of money for Christmas? Do you shop with a sense of dread, or excitement that you get to surprise loved ones? Comment below!
Keep trying to crack the code,