Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: How Does She Do Christmas on a Budget

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Does She Do Christmas on a Budget

How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Many of you have been filling my in box with one simple request, a post on how the Hubbs and I do Christmas on a budget. Well here we go. One nicely packaged post, explaining how we do Christmas on a budget.

Hubby and I have been married for 10 years, so we have had a lot of Christmases together. Just like with everything in our budgeting life, we didn't start off doing the holidays with a plan. We started out as many of you probably have. We would make a list of who we had to buy for. Then we would go shopping, probably spending way to much on toys and such. We didn't have a game plan, a budget, or any clue at what we were doing. We would justify that it was Christmas and you had to spend money at that time of year. We stayed in this practice for many years.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Then that wonderful day happened when we decided to change our financial situation. You can read about that HERE. I knew that doing a budget needed to apply to everything in our life, including Christmas. I have been following this thrifty way of life for many Christmases now and I have to tell you that our holidays are so much better because of it. Below are a few tips broken down for you. These are all the tips and tricks we follow to stay out of debt and on budget during the holidays.

Set a Budget
This is the MOST important thing you can do this Christmas. Sit down, with your spouse, and actually talk about what you are going to spend on Christmas. Be specific. So many people forget to do this. They shop and spend, then after Christmas they are shocked at how much they spent. Everyone's budget will be different. Pick one that fits into your current financial situation. When hubby and I do this, we decide how much we will spend on our children first. Stocking stuffers are included in this budget. We then decide how much we will spend on each other and our other family members. When money has been extra tight at the holidays we forego the presents for each other. Sometimes we will wait till we get our tax returns and shop then for each other. We always make sure that we have money for the littles first.

 When buying presents for other family members there are a few things you can do. Set a price limit for each person. We usually have a $10 limit. This limit is the same when birthdays come around as well. This is a reasonable amount for us, since we come from a pretty large family. We also do secret Santa with my hubby's family. This helps a ton! Each of the adults pick a name out of a hat and so do the kids. We set a $10 limit and then exchange presents at a family Christmas Eve brunch. This is such an amazing help to our family. Instead of spending say $150 on presents for my inlaws, we only spend $40. It also takes less stress off of the shopper. This year I am able to spend more time relaxing this Christmas, then figuring out what to by for my sweet family. I love them to pieces, but sometimes all that shopping and spending can wear a person out, and my checkbook.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Remember that budgeting at Christmas does not mean you love your family less. Money does not equate to love. Never forget this.

Pay Cash
Such a basic concept right? Do this at Christmas time as well. If we have to charge it, then we don't need it. Yes there are exceptions, but this is a good one to follow as a general rule. Credit cards are for emergencies only. This is our thrifting philosophy. Where Christmas is concerned, we only use cash. I go through the store with a calculator and make sure I am only spending what we budget. I try to remember that if I go over budget, it means money taken away from our bills being paid or groceries being bought.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Go Homemade/Thrifted
Whenever I can, I go homemade. This is a great way to save money as well. I always try to find projects where I have most of the items already in my craft stash. If I have to purchase anything to make a present, I always go to thrift stores first. One year I made rag tie wreaths. I bought sheets at a thrift store to make them. This saved me tons in the fabric department. Another year I made my little miss a beauty salon set with faux make-up. I just took old curling irons and stuff I wasn't using. I then cut off the cords. I made a beautician apron and a hair salon cape for her doll out of fabric I already had. This is was such a simple present, which she still plays with today.

I also love to look for gifts at the thrift stores. There are so many wonderful things donated to thrift stores. Most stores save all their Christmas decor and stuff for December. This is great, since you can always give Christmas decorations as a gift or incorporate it into planned crafts you have. Look at the toys/clothes section too. You never know what gems you may find.The Goodwillista is always finding great stuff for holiday dressing/gifts.

I also check out ebay. I have been able to find some amazing deals via Ebay and Amazon on those video games and electronics our littles are always asking for.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

When making presents for grandparents, I try to go the sentimental/homemade route. My parents love pictures of their grand kids. Every year I make a calendar from Shutterfly.com. My Mom looks forward to this present each year. Since I order from Shutterfly often, I look for their sales. I am signed up to receive emails with their coupon codes. On black Friday I was able to buy 2 calendars at such a great price! My total should have been well over $50, but I had some pretty sweet coupon codes. I ended up only paying $25. SCORE!

Shop Around
Shopping smart will save you money. Just because you budget say $10 a person, does not mean you have to spend it. If you find a great deal, then you can end up saving that extra money. This money can then be used for other things.
Sites like Style Lately, Paparazzi Accessories, and GroopDealz are all great places to find gifts. I purchased presents for my sisinlaws, who all have birthdays in December and January. I was able to buy gifts for three people and only spend $16. I budgeted $30, but I was able to find some great deals. All of these sites send me emails when they have deals. I wait for a really good one and plan ahead. My Sisinlaw Holly has a birthday in January, but I already purchased her gift. I found a great deal and now I won't have to buy her a present come January. It is another item I can check off my to do list.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Where toys are concerned, money can be wasted on toys our kids won't even play with. Kids are bombarded with toy commercials and ads. They are lead to believe that every toy will be A-MAZING. This is not always the case. I can't even believe how much money we wasted when we first had my son. He would think everything was cool and that he HAD to have it. We would buy it and then find out that it wasn't really something he wold play with, it was just something that looked cool on TV. Now we only buy things we KNOW our children will play with. Before Birthdays and Christmas we take them to Wal-Mart or Target. We let me them go up and down the toy aisles to check out all the goodies. We watch what they gravitate towards. We then think about how our children play. My son is not into dress up, but my daughter is. He will see Spider-man masks and light sabers and swear he will play with them everyday, if he can just get it. We know from experience now that we won't. He hates costumes, even at Halloween. This would be one of those things we would not buy, even if he asked for it. Shopping smart is a great way to only buy what your children will actually use. We have a limited budget. I want to get as much bang for my buck, so I want to make sure they will truly enjoy everything they get.

Another way to shop smart is to price match at Wal-Mart. They don't just price match food, they will honor store ads where toys and household items are concerned as well. If you see a toy advertised for less than Wal-Mart sales it for, price match it. You bring in your ad and show them the cheaper price. They then will honor that price. I love that Wal-Mart does this. They rock! Wal-Mart also has a great layaway program. This is a great way to get presents and not charge them to a credit card. You pick out your items and then bring them to customer service. They then put them all on hold for you. You make payments throughout the month of December. This is great for people who get paid by the week or who are shopping with maybe a Christmas bonus. You can check out Wal-Mart's coupon policy, price match policy, and layaway terms on their website.

Quality Not Quantity
This is the last tip we always try to follow. My children may not have a truck load of toys under the tree, but what they do have I know will last. It is very easy to see toys in catalogs and think what a great price. I am weary of this, since we have done this before and the toys have not lasted. My son is pretty hard on toys, so we always look for something that will last. It is not worth it to buy a lot of cheaply made items, just so you have a huge quantity under the tree. Buy items for your family that will last and stand up to the wear and tear that the item will under go. Be conscious of all purchases. Whether you are buying thrifted items or brand new items, think of each purchase as an investment. Make sure you get the most bang for your buck, where quality is concerned .


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

These are the tips and tricks we follow each year. It is just another part of our thrifty lifestyle. Christmas is a time for family togetherness. Enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones.


Merry Shopping Lovelies! 

XO Danielle

6 comments:

  1. Very helpful! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Love this post!!! We to started off marriage with no Christmas plan. Now we save all year long for Christmas. We open up a Christmas Club account at our local bank and put money in it every month for Christmas. We treat our Christmas money as a bill that has to get paid so we don't skimp. Then when Christmas comes we make a plan. Usually for the adults its a $1 gift. Literately, $1 gift! Christmas is about spending time with family so all the adults bring a gift from the dollar store wrapped with no name on it (gag gifts are the best fun!). We play games and these gifts end up being our prizes! Then for the kids we do stocking stuffers. This helps keep the budget down, provides great memories together, and allows my husband and i do provide a nice Christmas for our family! The extra money from our Christmas account goes to my personal family of 4. We try to do something nice around the holiday as a special treat to our boys.

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  3. I luv reading this each year - I always find a new nugget of info that I somehow missed! since mine is older now, I've started doing at least one "experience" gift a year. This year is the Nutcracker ballet, I usually try to do something that will "give thru-out the year" like a membership but he luvs watching the nutcracker ballet on tv so i'm hoping he will like this.

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  4. I love how well you thought this out and articulated it. So many posts will say have a budget and stick to it, but your examples make this so much more helpful than that.

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  5. GREAT post! So many folks get in trouble over spending at Christmas. We also budget for Christmas. ALL YEAR LONG! Like Kathryn B. above it is like a bill. A certain amount is set aside from every paycheck for Christmas gifts. After Christmas we start all over again. My husband and I rarely buy each other gifts at Christmas. If we do it is usually a small gift no more than $10-20.

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  6. These are all really sound, really good ideas. It does help that your extended families share the same ideas about gifts. I agree about the toys. I have been parenting many years and the biggest money waste is toys. They are mostly flash and fancy boxes. Good for you both for having the sense to make Christmas an enjoyable holiday.

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