Friday, June 24, 2011

Saving for Christmas

I don't know if you know this but Christmas is on the same day every year, can you believe it?  What tends to happen to me is almost every year I can't believe how quickly the pages of the calendar turn and Christmas is here, with no money set aside for presents!  Do you know what the definition of crazy is?  Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  This year I decided to step out of the crazy and actually do something so that I have some money set aside this year.

Here is how I plan to fund my Christmas account this year:

Christmas Club
If you are following my budget update you will know that setting up a Christmas Club was one of my goals for the year (you can read about my financial goals here).  I have never participated in our credit union's Christmas Club before but after the stress of last Christmas I decided that the week I was off over the holidays would be devoted to setting up a fund.  With about 8-9 deposits to go (the money is dispersed late October) I have enough money to pay for my kids presents.  I should finish with enough to cover about 75% of our Christmas spend.  If you go the Christmas Club route I would encourage you to do automatic deposit so that money actually gets in there!

This is the first year I have really been taking advantage of Swagbucks.  In addition to using them as the search engine I've also bought some things through there (that I would have bought anyway) which has helped increase my balance.  I'm expecting to have enough points to buy a $50 gift card that I will put towards Christmas presents

Credit card points
I know this is controversial but the fact is I like using credit cards (we don't carry balances, I pay whatever balance we have when I get my paycheck every two weeks) and don't overspend on them.  Little lecture - it's important when using credit cards to use them like cash.  If you don't have the money in the bank to pay it off don't use them.  I accumulate my points and choose the cash option which I will then use for Christmas presents.  If I'm not charged a fee, I will pay some of my bills with the credit card to get the points.  US Cellular lets you pay over the phone with a credit card without charging you extra but the power company charges a 3% fee if you use a credit card (at least in our state).  If it's going to cost you something to use the credit card don't use it!  I'm expecting to have a couple of hundred dollars to put towards Christmas.

Sell what you don't need
Look for outlets to sell your goods.  Rummage sales, Craigslist, bulletin boards at work, etc.  I've shared before that I don't like rummage sales but I've had a ton of success with using our electronic bulletin board at work.  I've sold a car, kids clothes, books, etc.  Any money that can be added to your kitty would help.

Make something to sell
If you have a crafty skill, put it to use.  Think about what you do that your friends rave about and see if you can find a market for it.  Are you a killer baker?  What about selling homemade Christmas cookies or candy to those of us who find it stressful to bake during the holidays?  Craft shows tend to be big in October/November.  Rent a couple of booths (they tend to be fairly cheap) and set up shop.

Get a part time job
Many places hire seasonal help in the fall with hours that could fit into almost any schedule.  If you stay at home with your kids you could try picking up some hours at a retail store or restaurant nights and weekends.  A lot of catalog companies are looking for extra phone staff.  I would think you could easily clear over $500 by working 10-15 hours a week for two months.

How do you save for Christmas?  I'd love to hear other ideas.


  1. I do Christmas in a different way. In January, I write a list for each child, and as the year goes on, I write down things that they want or need. Most of them are things that I plan on making, using things I already have on hand. (I do the same for birthdays).

    Some of my planned gifts for this year:

    a library tote for my older children for Christmas, as they like to check out armfuls of books at a time

    doll clothes for my 4 younger girls, using fabric and patterns I already have

    pajamas, using fabric I already have (some I bought a few years ago at 50% off, and the others fabric was given to me by someone who was moving)

    necklaces for my girls, IF I am in a situation where I can buy the supplies. If not, these will be crossed from the list

    I will probably make a dress for the girls as well (from the fabric that I have).

    I spend a lot of time sewing right before Christmas (plus I have one December birthday!) My children think that most gifts are handmade, and this year, I need to start earlier, because they are going to want to make gifts for their siblings as well, and they will need help.

  2. I love getting hand crafted gifts for Christmas. Hint - Peggy, I'd really love one of those yard benches that you make (sorry - I just needed to get another plug in for my sister-in-laws current craft projects!) They really do tend to be treasured for many years, much more so than the plastic toys that are usually given and then forgotten about. I've been struggling the last few years with the commercialism of Christmas and the 'stuff' that we've given and received. I've told my husband that I feel ungrateful but we just don't need some of the stuff we get.

    What I have started doing the last couple of years is giving 'experience gifts' to my nieces. Instead of a toy I'll give them tickets to an event or something. If you can be creative these can be pretty inexpensive. I basically try to pick something that they may not get to do and plan a day excursion. A friend of my husband's has a horse farm. She's always inviting us out so we're going to see if we can take our nieces and spend the day at the horse farm as a present for them. We'll take a picnic lunch, let them ride for a while and help out in the stables. I think they would have a blast.

    I checked out your site and must say I'm pretty impressed with your garden and pantry set up. The food pictures you posted look absolute fabulous - very nice work.

  3. Thanks!
    I like your idea about taking them to see something that doesn't cost money (except for gas). Someone told me about the experince gifts that she did one year like that when she didn't have any money for gifts. She said it compeletly changed their Christmas. It turned out to be their favorite Christmas ever, and that's what they have done for Christmas since then!

  4. I enter online giveaways and if I win, I set items/gift cards aside for my kids for Christmas. I also watch clearance sales. This year I have won a great deal of items and it has really helped out.

  5. That's a great idea. My sister works for a company that gives gift cards as rewards for meeting certain benchmarks. She does the same thing.