Staying on Budget at Christmastime

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Did you go shopping on “Black Friday”? Do you plan to look for deals on “Cyber Monday”? Either way you look at it, it’s official: the Christmas shopping season has begun.

Each of us is different when it comes to how Christmas spending impacts our wallets. Maybe for you, Christmas is a time of great fun and you don’t mind going into debt for Christmas spending. Or, maybe you do mind – and you mind greatly – so much so that Christmas shopping stresses you out!

Regardless of where you stand on Christmas spending this year, my hope is to give you a tip or trick here or there that you can use not just at Christmas, but all year round. Take what you want, and leave out the rest. Because I remember all too well a Christmas working in retail – with a great employee discount – and before I could wrap up all the presents, I had to instead decide which I would take back. I had gone overboard. It was so much fun picking the presents, but I couldn’t afford them! I had to return many gifts, before they were given.

There can be so much pressure with Christmas. Pressure to show how much you care with how much you spend. So, in general, here’s the strategy I use to have fun, without going overboard:

  • Before spending on anyone, decide the dollar amount you’ll be spending on everyone. If you have one gathering for immediate family, and a different gathering for extended family, and your spending is very different for the two groups, that’s fine, just decide before you buy what you’re spending on everyone. Write it down if you have to. For example, you might decide that spending on your immediate family is $100 per person, or that spending on your extended family will be $200 for the entire group.
  • As you look at how many dollars each person “gets”, think about the number of packages. I’m not saying this counts, but I know some people that are really bothered if one child gets two gifts, and the other gets four… even if the monetary value for both people is the same. If this is you, think before you buy so you don’t stress yourself out.  The holidays are supposed to be fun, and they’re not supposed to make you feel guilty because of your gift-giving skills.
  • Write down a list as you make your purchases and next to each item, write down how much was paid, so you can keep track.
  • If you go overboard like I did my year working retail, it’s ok to take some items back before you give them.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

How to Pay Less for Christmas gifts

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For all the pretty packages under the Christmas tree, there can be quite a price to be paid. When you’re trying to live within your means, Christmas can be a unique challenge. Christmas is lots of fun but from a financial point of view, it can lead to lots of spending because many of us are trying to show our loved ones how much we love them by spending lots of money on them.

So, in order to snag some deals, you have to be intentional. Retailers know that lots of us love this time of year and we’ll throw in extra purchases like socks, hot cocoa, wrapping paper… anything really if it’s got a snowman slapped on it.

You don’t have to get in over your head this Christmas… You can pay less for Christmas gifts this year, enjoy yourself, treat your family to some gifts they will enjoy, all while coming out with your wallet still intact.

How to be Charitable When You’re Broke

 

Dealing with job loss, unexpected bills, or other tough financial times can make Christmas a trickier time to navigate, financially speaking. As you look ahead to your budget, it might be awkward when people ask you to be charitable. The warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you help other people could conflict with the fact that you could use some extra money. But the good news is that if you’re between a rock and a hard place, there are ways to be charitable when you, yourself, are broke. There are three charities that I believe are doing great work, year round, not just at Christmas, that you can support even when you’re broke.

Goodwill

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The catchy slogan used in some of Goodwill’s commercials has been “good deals, good cause, Goodwill”. And it’s true – Goodwill operates thrift shops that fund programs for homeless veterans and people with disabilities. By providing job coaching services to people those with disabilities in a job search, Goodwill helps people achieve their full potential. The stores in my area offer special discounts every week, typically a half off everything weekly (some exclusions apply). Goodwill even holds auto auctions if you’re brave enough to take a chance on a car you’ve never drove. So whether you’re shopping for household items or just purging your closet of some clothes that no longer fit, you can be confident that you’re funding a good cause.

The Salvation Army

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This distinctively Christian organization has a very practical, relevant mission. Long before the heroin crisis gained national attention, The Salvation Army has understood how addiction can ruin lives. That’s why The Salvation Army supports people on a journey of recovery out of drug and alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one could benefit from free alcohol or drug treatment services, The Salvation Army may be able to help. When you donate goods or shop their stores, you are funding positive change in someone’s life. What better feeling than knowing that your donation or purchase can help give someone a better life?

St. Vincent DePaul

The Society of St. Vincent DePaul is a Catholic charity that works for the poor. Similar to Goodwill, you can donate goods to their thrift shops, and they also hold auto auctions. St. Vincent DePaul’s mission is to “end poverty through systematic change”, and they operate different programs in different states. In my area, one amazing program they operate is the Charitable Pharmacy, a safety net for people who have no other means of obtaining essential medications. So, if you’re upset about the state of healthcare, why just complain? Donate your junk to St. Vincent Depaul, a great charity that is doing something about it and helping people.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.