Frugal Friday – Preparing for Christmas

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas tree

I know. I know. You’ve barely recovered from this Christmas and I want you to think about next year! What’s up with that?

You may even have kids out of school or spouses off work and are still enjoying the time together. But, if you want to have an enjoyable Christmas next year now is the time to think about it, even if you don’t want to. And, we have a few tips to help lay the groundwork for a jolly holiday season.

1. While the family is still together find out what holiday activities they enjoyed the most and what they didn’t. This will help you keep meaningful holiday activities; building traditions and memories, and get rid of those that drained time and energy.

Remember,  not everything at holiday time has to involve spending money. Walking the neighborhood with a thermos of hot cocoa admiring the decorated houses can be just as fun as money draining plays and concerts.

2. Recap your gift giving list. As much as we don’t want to think about what we spent, now is the time to do just that. Make a list of every person you gave a gift to, listing the gift and the corresponding cost. Decide now if there is anyone you could remove from the list in order to manage the holiday spending better.

Teachers and school staff are a perfect example of people who could be removed from your shopping list. It’s not that you don’t appreciate what they do, but do they really need a Christmas gift? Or, will a heartfelt card be sufficient?

3. Inventory your gift wrapping supplies and replace with sale items. Prices are slashed drastically so stores can get rid of the excess. Replace what you need, but don’t go overboard. Be realistic.

Commit to using up what you already have, too. No sense in buying rolls and rolls of paper or dozens of gift bags if you already have enough.

4. Watch for sales on holiday meal items, like turkey’s or hams, and canned goods as well. Stock up now and beat the rush (shortages or price increases) next season.

5. Start saving NOW! Calculate the money you spent and divide that by 40. This will be the amount to save each week to buy gifts in October, well before the spending frenzy. Pay for gifts in cash and there will be no surprise credit card bills to start the New Year. As an example: if you spent a total of $300 this year you would save $7.50 per week to have that same amount next year.

If you need to, cut something simple from your expenses, like eating out less, to help you save.

6. When packing up your decorations toss out old shabby decorations; donate or sell one’s you don’t use anymore. Check the lights to make sure they are still working. If not, take advantage of the sales to replace. And, organize your boxes of decorations. There’s nothing more stressful than plowing through boxes of decorations only to find out they don’t work or they are broken.

7. Start paying attention. Carry a small notebook to jot down gift ideas throughout the year. Listen to family and friends when they mention something they would like to have or something they have been enjoying. They will appreciate your remembering and thoughtfulness maybe even more than the gift itself.

My sister is building out a very large perennial bulb garden, so guess what she gets for Christmas?

By all means enjoy the holiday. Enjoy time with family before you rush out and plan for next year. That’s what they joy of the season is all about. But, to take the stress out of next year take a few moments and do some planning. It may seem like a lot of work now, but by next October you’ll be enjoying the beginning of the holiday season a whole lot more when you’re not stressing about money or burned out lights.



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