Don’t Go Broke This Christmas!

17 November 2009
I am so excited to share this wonderful guest post with you today! Nadia Crum is from the blog A-B-C Frugality. It's a great frugal resource full of tons of information. I urge you to stop over and visit her. Today she brings us some sound advice on how to survive the holidays without going broke. Nadia, thanks so much for sharing wit my readers. You are welcome back anytime!

Don’t Go Broke This Christmas!

Part of the "101 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays and Start the New Year Ahead of The Game" series written by Nadia Crum of A-B-C Frugality. Visit our site to discover hundreds more ways to save this holiday season!

1. Treat December like any other month. Set a budget and stick to it, following your usual pattern of trimming excess spending from flexible expense categories like groceries and entertainment. Include a budget for overall Christmas spending. Account for things like decorations, gifts, excess food and utility costs if you’ll be having guests for an extended stay, gasoline for traveling to and from Holiday events, additional clothing costs if the children will need new outfits for Christmas day, and other miscellaneous costs that would otherwise be assimilated into the “extra spending” category of your budget. If you know exactly how much you have to spend, it will be much easier to stay within your budget.

2. Make a list and check it twice. Decide if there are people that you really need to shop for, and try to pare down your list to only your closest friends and family. Make your list of people to shop for and assign a dollar amount if you haven’t already shopped for them. If you have been shopping throughout the year at sales and clearance events and already have a supply of generic gifts built up, write the assigned gift next to the person’s name along with a brief description of how you plan to personalize the generic gift for that individual. A bath gift basket with free soaps and lotions (from CVS and Walgreens, of course) can easily be personalized for a teenaged niece by throwing in some glitter lipgloss and a nice handmade card; the same basket for your Aunt might be better suited with a candle and a blank journal.

3. Remember to buy yourself a present, too. This may seem counterproductive to many frugalists out there. But research shows that often when we see something we would really like to have, yet deny ourselves, that item often gets purchased regardless and given to someone else because of our impulses. Remembering to treat yourself during this stressful season is important. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. A $2.00-after-coupons eyeshadow compact may not be something we’d normally purchase because of the price (my makeup stockpile price is always around $1.00 or less, depending on item/brand), but during the holidays, go a little crazy with that $2.00 and you just might save $50 on impulse mall purchases.

4. Budget your time as well as your money. Not allowing enough time to prepare something or do something can often lead to convenience purchases, which can cost you a lot during the marked-up holiday buying season. For instance, not allowing yourself enough time to make the candied yams from scratch (costing $2.00 total) might lead to sending your husband out to buy a frozen, throw in the oven yam casserole dish, costing $8.00.

5. Don’t overlook the value of intangible gifts. If your budget is tight this season, as many of ours are, consider giving intangible gifts such as babysitting or yardwork help. Handmade gift certificates are a nice way to give the recipient something tangible to open that is representative of your gift of services.

6. Shop prices, not sales. By watching the price of individual items rather than simply running out and purchasing that item because it’s “on sale,” you can save yourself a pretty penny. Sale signs are everywhere this time of the year as a ploy to get you to purchase more, but often, the sale price is only a few pennies less than the regular price of the item. A “sale price” at one store may very well be more expensive than the regular price of that same item at a different store.

7. What’s in it for me? Consider giving charitable donations in the name of the recipient instead of buying them another item that will just clutter a landfill in 6 months. You’ll restore some meaning of Christmas, help the recipient feel honored and charitable, and you’ll get the tax deduction for charitable giving. Just be sure to get the appropriate tax receipt from the organization you donate to.

8. Buy last year’s model. Especially with items like baby gear, manufacturers are pushing the next year’s models of equipment like strollers and play yards beginning in December, so the “last year’s model,” which are indistinguishable from the new models save fabric color or another minute detail, are marked down to 30-40% of the original price.

9. Send postcards instead of cards. Sign up at and wait…once or twice a week they have a sale where you can get 100 postcard printed double-sided for only the cost of shipping (usually around $5 or so). While you’re cutting Christmas card costs, consider paring down your card list to only those family and friends whom you regularly stay in touch with. Those in your address book whom you don’t keep in close contact with will be just as happy with an eCard updating them on your family activities.

10. Plastic belongs in the form of a cookie cutter, not a card! Make it a point to shop only with cash. Better still, once you’ve decided on your Christmas gift budget amount, take that amount out of the bank in cash and keep it in an envelope. More people on your list than cash in your envelope? You’ll just have to get creative with gifts. Avoid using credit at all costs, and the only bill you’ll be receiving in January is a “bill of frugal health.”

Nadia is a young Army wife and mother of two small children who enjoys shopping for the hottest deals and researching ways to save her readers $1000s of dollars each and every month. Her family lives a fun frugal lifestyle and she is pursuing her degree in Education while her husband bravely serves our country. To find out more about a frugal and fun lifestyle of abundance, visit her blog at A-B-C Frugality.

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Young Wife said...

Great tips! I think for me, budgeting time is the most important thing. I can cook and create lots of great things, but if I run out of time, I do exactly what you said and send my husband to the store!

Abatevintage said...

This sounds wonderful. God bless for sharing.

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Heidi ♥