How You Can Have a Stress-Free Christmas This Year
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Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But is it really? With the parties, the gifts, the Christmas cards, the family photos, and rushing from one party to the next, it can quickly spiral out of control. And when you add being on a budget to the mix? Yikes. How are you supposed to balance the extra expenses of gifts, food (for parties), and gas (for traveling to the parties) with your regular monthly bills? What is the secret to a stress-free Christmas?
First, I want you to take a deep breath. (Okay, that was more for me – just writing that first paragraph made my blood pressure go up! HA!)
It is possible to give generously and with joy this Christmas and I’m going to help you get there. Here are my favorite money-saving secrets for a stress-free Christmas.
Make a plan based on reality, not desirability
Calculate your Christmas budget based on what you can actually afford to spend. It’s so tempting to fall into the “buy now, pay later” trap – but don’t do it. That’s a recipe for going broke.
Christmas is only one day – don’t make the mistake of ruining your entire year by blowing your Christmas budget. And, once you have your budget in place, set up an automatic transfer to a Christmas Club account to make sure you have the money there when the time comes.
Cut back your gift-giving
Giving gifts is as synonymous with Christmas as candy canes. But with our ever-widening circle of friends, co-workers, and extended families, our gift lists easily get out of control.
Consider scaling back your “people I buy presents for” list and handing out Christmas cards or home-made baked goods to everyone else. Besides, if you give a gift, it creates an obligation for them to return the favor, whether they can afford it or not.
Save yourself some money (and save your friends some, too!) and make a “no present pact” to cut back on unnecessary gift giving.
Postpone the party
Who says we have to celebrate Christmas in December? Sure, that’s when the actual holiday falls on the calendar but that time of year is always so busy anyway, why not postpone your Christmas party?
Ease the holiday rush and plan your Christmas gathering in January. That’s when everything goes on sale – you’ll be able to score the cheapest and best gifts! And as a bonus, you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy the holiday and save some cash while you do it.
Earn money while you shop
It’s true! You can earn money for buying the things you’d buy anyway. And it’s all possible with Ebates. I never buy anything online without checking to see if there’s an Ebates link affiliated with it. That way I can earn a cashback bonus on top of saving money by finding the best deals online. BONUS: Sign up for Ebates using this link and get an extra $10 when you make your first purchase – my gift to you this Christmas!
Create a Christmas closet
Chances are you pretty much buy for the same people, year after year and already have a good idea of what they like and what they don’t. That makes it easy to shop for bargains all year long!
When you find a great gift for Aunt Martha at a rock-bottom price, go ahead and get it! Designate a special spot in your house (we use an out-of-the-way closet at our house) to stash Christmas gifts that you find in the off-season – that way you’ll have them at the ready when Christmas rolls around.
What are your favorite money-saving, stress-reducing Christmas secrets?