Monday, October 14, 2013

Budgeting for the Holidays

I can hardly believe that I'm going to write a post about the holidays in October, but I am actually a big believer in shopping well in advance for Christmas, so this isn't really too far out of my comfort zone to be talking about this already!  In a day and age where financial ease seems rare, it is my hope to be able to share some tips that will save you money and keep you on or under budget!

Did you see that word that ended that first paragraph?  BUDGET!  Really, that's the best thing you can do for yourself.  Look at your finances and figure out what you can afford!  You don't need to go into serious debt during the holidays.  Spend what you can afford, not to keep up with the Jones'.  The holidays should be about spending time with family, not competing to see who can buy the best gift or giving your children everything they want.  In the end, it's all just "stuff."  The memories that you make as a family will long outlive the $400 IPAD Mini that your son/daughter HAD to have.  

Okay, you've created your budget.  Now what?  Start looking online now.  Today while I was at the gym, I saw a segment on the Today Show about  Admittedly I haven't tried it out yet, but it looks intriguing.  You can add items that you are interested in purchasing and then receive an email when the price drops.  Coupon codes are also listed on the site and at first glance it looks like it could saves hours of surfing for deals.

I do the majority of my shopping online and have saved hundreds of dollars using Ebates.  It may seem like it will take you longer to do your shopping, but it's really just one extra click.  Go to the website, search for your store, and enter their website through Ebates to receives a percentage of your purchase as cash back.  Often times the cash back percentage will double or even triple during the holidays and it really adds up!  You can choose to receive a check or receive instant Amazon credit (which is my new favorite thing to do!) every three months.  As a bonus, you can choose a $10 gift card once you make a purchase.  I love this site and have not had any trouble with it in the three years I've participated.

If you like to shop in the store, there is an awesome app I use called The Coupons App.  This app has deals at restaurants, stores, and other entertainment venues.  Just click on the offer you want and the code will come up.  It uses your location and provides the offers in your area.  It's really awesome for vacations, too, to save some money on meals or entertainment.  There are usually discounts for Old Navy, Kohl's, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and Ulta just to name a few!

One last tip for the day!  Check your area for a half price deals or other discount site.  I frequently use QCUPickem and get some great deals on gift cards.  Generally you pay half of the value of the gift card and the restrictions are fairly limited if any.  I've begun to give these as gifts to teachers and family.  It's a great deal!

Stay tuned for some more holiday posts to come!  We'll be trying out some new crafts and recipes this year and be passing them along before you know it!



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