The Christmas season has officially arrived! We have begun highlighting deals in earnest (starting with Black Friday) and if you’re not careful, you could blow a serious wad of cash.
One of my primary goals with this blog is to help each of you save money so you can meet your family’s financial goals. There’s always a small pit in my stomach as I share a really good deal, especially an online one, because I don’t want to be responsible for encouraging you to overspend or to spend impulsively. I want all of us to be intentional spenders.
In an effort to help you get through the Christmas deal frenzy, I strongly encourage each of you to prepare (and myself, too) to have an intentionally spent Christmas — a time when you spend wisely and avoid buying stuff no one needs just because it is a “deal.”
1. Figure out what type of Christmas you want for your family.
What do you want to experience? What do you want your house to feel like? What purpose will the gifts serve?
For instance, I am determined to be intentional with how we spend the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day this year. I often get to a few days before Christmas and think, “We didn’t do anything special again this year.”
2. Figure out how much money you have available to spend on Christmas.
And not just the gifts — factor in the experiences, decorations and events. Please, please, please don’t set an amount based on what you expect, what others expect or what you think others expect. Look in your bank account. How much can you responsibly devote to Christmas this year?
If you live on the envelope system, this will be an easier task. All I have to do is look in my “Gifts” and “Family” envelope to know how much we will be spending over the next five weeks. And it’s super helpful that we have been saving and preparing all year long.
Then divide that amount among the different “things” you could spend money on during the Christmas season. Do you always see a Christmas movie during December? Set that amount aside. Do you plan to bake a bunch? Set that amount aside, also.
3. Figure out your gift list.
Who will be receiving a gift from your family this year and what do you plan to buy them (or how much can you allocate to each person)?
I’ll never forget walking through Toys ‘R Us with my mom a few years ago (it was nearing midnight on Thanksgiving — we’re hard core) and watching a woman pick up a $13 item and say to her husband, “I don’t know who to give this to, but it’s only $13 and will be a nice filler gift.” In my world, $13 can be used for something other than a gift that is given with no intent and will probably be discarded by the recipient.
By creating a list, I can now spend intentionally.
When a deal arises, I can make sure it is actually being purchased for a person and that the amount fits within my budget. This will help me pass on many, many deals and thereby save money. Because, as Kari from KariPatterson.com told us, the only real way to save money is to not spend it.
RELATED: If you’re looking for a little extra help in this department, sign up for our special Christmas newsletter and you’ll get access to a FREE Christmas Gift List Worksheet and Christmas Gift Budget Worksheet.
Check out our great list of gift guides if you need some inspiration. The gifts have been hand-picked with the hope that people will enjoy them to the fullest.
We also have a great list of toys and gifts for kids that WILL ACTUALLY BE USED. These have been tried, tested, loved and loved again by our kids and won’t just get thrown away after a few days.
Remember, not every deal we post over the next month will be of value to you, but it may help another reader save money on something they were already planning to purchase.
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I also like to check my cart before I get in line. I sometimes find things the kids have put in, sometimes think you know that isn’t really that great of a deal and perhaps remember I’ve already bought for the person.
From Santa I have started a tradition of getting educational things as well as fun things. I think getting a book from Santa can make the book more special and who doesn’t want there kids love books. 🙂
I’ve struggled with stocking stuffers in the past because I don’t like buying cheap things that will be discarded. Aside from using surplus items from our coupon stockpile, I’ve been preparing handmade items from ideas on blogs (especially FLNW) all year. My favorites include make your own microwave popcorn, homeade de-ice spray, all natural cocoa mix, family photo albums, family calendars, music mix cds and cookbooks of family favorite recipes. It took a lot more work than going to the dollar store, but they’re things that get actual use!
Thank you! Such a good reminder. We are trying to keep Christmas simple this year. We have 3 kids, we set a price limit (in our case $50.00 per kid) and then we plan on getting one larger toy, one puzzle or game, and one book per kid. It helps me to avoid buying unnecessary things if I have a plan. I may not be able to get a deal on that one large thing the kid’s specifically want, but I know I won’t exceed my limit.
I really just wanted to put this out there because I feel like a lot of parents feel guilty if they don’t have huge things under the tree for their kids. Our budget is smaller, our kid’s don’t get a ton and they are happy. 😉
Julie D says
I should have this reminder stamped on my forehead for Black Friday. It is the toughest day not to buy something because it is cheap. Every year I go I end up with a gift my daughter doesn’t want.
Just want to say you are my HERO for posting this and reminding me what this season is all about, and what it ISNT. I am so thankful to have my focus ‘focused’ before the mad rush of the season begins. Thank you for blessing me every day with your blog! I seriously can’t express enough gratitude.
My favorite part of Christmas is helping other people-we have a community XMas breakfast/food-toy-clothing giveaway, that we help organize for the weekend before (Hillsboro OR). To me I’d rather focus on that and making cookies to give away than get more “stuff” to try and fit into our house! I suggested to my mom (as we were talking about Christmas coming too soon again & we feel it should be once every 5 years-not yearly!) that they give to a charity in our name.
Great article. Always looking for more reminders on how to do it intentionally. Thanks too for the shout out.
We completely agree with developing x-mas lists. It’s the best way to keep savings up and budgets down.
I love your blog!! I have saved so much money (on things that i really needed) I hate spending money on something that “was just on sale”. I know way too many people that spend their money like that. And those are usually the friend that give a gift just because it was on sale and not something that I will really use. I am hoping this year my family will go for a homemade Christmas.
I don’t remember what the different designs were but Fred Meyers has a wooden painted advent calendar. It is $30 on sale for $20 and there was a 10% off home coupon. One has little doors you open and the others have little drawers. I made mine last year but splurged on this one this year. I did see a surprisingly cute wall hanging one at Kmart last year I wish I would have bought during the after Christmas sale.
This is a great post. It’s so easy to just spend spend spend this time of year. Giving is fun, but it can get out of hand, and the real reason for Christmas gets lost. Thanks for the reminder to be intentional!