Monday, 23 November 2015

Christmas Shopping, Christmas Saving

Christmas is fast approaching and with Black Friday around the corner it’s time to start thinking about shopping for holiday gifts. No matter how minimal or extravagant your family’s Christmas is, if you have children they’re likely starting to plan out Christmas wish lists. Though it can be a very expensive time of year, it is possible for parents to finish holiday shopping without blowing the holiday budget.
We start our wish lists with a trip to the toy store in November. I take photos of every item the kids show an interest in, then we write out lists based on those photos when we get home. The kids pare down the lists, then add to them again over the next few weeks as holiday shopping catalogues arrive in the mail and they get new ideas. The lists are finalized by the first week of December, when they deliver their letters to Santa to his elves at our local Santa Claus parade.
I use those lists both for our Christmas shopping and for gift ideas for grandparents, aunts and uncles. Once I’ve created a more or less balanced list for each kid out of their wish lists, I start stalking store websites, flyers, online ads and catalogues for weekly deals and discounts and coupons and sales on any of those items. There are a lot of sales leading up to Christmas – Black Friday deep discounts, flash sales on big-ticket hot new items, “spend get off” store offers, item-specific discounts. By price matching and coupon clipping and paying close attention to sales and discounted pricing, I have always been able to get every item on my list for at least twenty percent off. Overall, I have never paid more than sixty-five percent of my planned Christmas shopping budget based on original wish list pricing – not a bad savings at a very expensive time of year!
Christmas can be very expensive. Our family tends to go a little unnecessarily over the top with celebrations and presents, but even if your gift-giving is a little less extravagant it’s still a time of year that can stretch the budget to its limit. By planning in advance, creating and sticking to a list, and paying close attention to any and all sales and discounts, it’s possible to ease that Christmas budget stress a bit and leave a little left over.

Originally published as "Christmas Shopping, Christmas Saving" on my weekly column at gailvazoxlade.com

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