How to Save Money on Christmas This Year
I know we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet and that talk of Christmas is taboo before then, but the truth is that it is much easier (and less stressful) to begin thinking about Christmas as early as possible. With that in mind, here are some ways to save on Christmas this year:
Start Saving Yesterday
Okay, so it’s not possible to actually start yesterday, but the earlier in the year you start saving for Christmas, the better. Having money saved up when the holiday season rolls around allows you to pay for gifts in cash, thereby avoiding finance charges on credit card purchases and giving you the peace of mind to enjoy the season. I recommend estimating the amount you want to spend per person and dividing the total by the remaining number of paychecks you’ll receive before Christmas. You can then set up an automatic transfer from your bank account to a high-interest savings account (I personally have had a great experience with ING Direct, although Ally and American Express are also great and don’t require account minimums). (See also: Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today)
Use Your Rewards Points
If your credit card awards points for usage, it might be worth your while to consider using them on a Christmas gift or two. True, the goods you can buy with these points are often overpriced, but if you’re like me, you might not have another plan for your points anyway. Before you do redeem credit cards rewards points, though, check out this article on the 6 Worst Ways to Use Credit Card Rewards.
Shopping for sales is a no-brainer, but there’s more to sales than just the discount racks. Sign up for the email list of any store that you might be remotely interested in. I have signed up for emails from several of my favorite clothing retailers and wouldn’t dream of buying anything for less than 25% off (you could argue that their prices are marked up 25% or more regularly, but it’s still better than paying full price). If the thought of having hundreds of spam-like emails in your inbox sounds distasteful, you can open a designated email account specifically for offers like these.
In addition to signing up for retailers’ emails, you could also try searching for coupon codes prior to checking out of a retail site. Just go to your favorite search engine and type in the store’s name + coupon codes to see if you can score a deal that way. Similarly, if you have a specific gift in mind, try a comparison-shopping website like NexTag, Bizrate, or PriceGrabber.
No, I’m not suggesting that you knit sweaters as Christmas gifts (unless you actually are talented at knitting and have some sort of fashion sense). Making a Christmas gift that is appreciated and used requires some creative thinking and knowledge of the recipient. Have a friend who loves her dog? Consider personalizing ceramic dog bowls with her pet’s name. Does your friend love accessories? Your local craft store will have all the supplies to make her an awesome headband, bracelet, or earrings. Love cooking? Put together a gift basket with a theme. A little thought could produce a pretty awesome gift while also saving you money.
Buy It Used or Refurbished
Although some people are wary of used and refurbished items, they are a great choice when you can’t afford the item new. If your mom loves cashmere sweaters, but you can’t afford to buy one at full price, it might be worthwhile to search for the item on eBay. If you want to buy your boyfriend an iPod, try purchasing a refurbished one. You can find refurbished iPods, iPads, MacBooks, and more on the Apple Store website, and they all carry a one-year warranty. Other retailers offer significant discounts on refurbished products as well, and reputable retailers will offer the same return policy as with new purchases.
Now that you’re armed with tips to save money for Christmas this year, get shopping! And if you have any tips for how you have saved money on Christmas shopping, please share.