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Christmas comes around at the same time every year and yet it has the potential to wreck your finances each time. We all get caught up in the Christmas hurry and we feel pressured to spend more than we should. We have to stay on top of things to prevent January regrets. It is possible to buy nice, meaningful gifts on a budget. No one needs to know how much you spent (or didn’t spend!) on her present. You do not need to feel guilty because you were able to purchase someone a nice gift for $10. That’s awesome! Love is actually not measured by the amount you spent on a Christmas present. In fact, let us all take a moment to remind ourselves that Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of Jesus with the people we love. Presents are merely icing on the cake. We’re going to have to swim upstream to keep this at the forefront of our Christmas season, but we can do it! Now that we’ve refreshed our priorities, let’s talk about how to have a frugal Christmas and still give awesome gifts.
Preferably, we would have started on December 26 last year, but since we’ve already missed that, we’ll skip ahead. Start looking for deals now. Buy items when you find them on great sales. You know those store emails you receive and then delete immediately? Now is the time of year to start opening those. Check out the discounts and freebies and take advantage when you see good gift ideas. Shutterfly emails me free item codes and discounts all year long. I use them to make personalized photo calendars, mugs, notebooks, blankets, and other items over the few months before Christmas. These are always popular gifts for family members. I gave my grandparents a fleece photo blanket last year and they LOVED it. It is currently displayed on their couch and they won’t let anyone use it as an actual blanket just in case that kind of use might be too much for it. I got a great deal on that gift by combining a website discount with a coupon for $20 off. If you like photo gifts, I highly recommend that you make an account with Shutterfly and start checking out the email discounts now.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday often have great sales, but it’s an overwhelming shopping environment and it can be tempting to snatch up not-so-great discounts as well. Do your homework before you enter the shopping frenzy to ensure that you are getting a good deal. A discount sign does not necessarily mean that the item is actually reduced to a reasonable price. Sometimes, it’s not even discounted at all! Websites like southernsavers.com and thekrazycouponlady.com will do most of this homework for you. They’re like the Cliffs notes for sales research. Have a plan in place before you head out on Black Friday. Know what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend on each item. This will keep you accountable and you’ll be less likely to bust your budget. Don’t feel pressured to purchase that very day if something is out of your price range. The item may still go on sale again before Christmas or you might be able to pick it up on Ebay or Amazon. Patience, Grasshopper.
Always use Ebates*
I am so serious! Don’t forget about Ebates. The percentages may seem small, but they add up especially at this time of year. Also, Ebates is always featuring double cash back for some of the sites and you just might get lucky enough to stumble upon one of those. This website alone can save you SO MUCH MONEY on your online purchases. I buy 95% of my Christmas gifts online so this quarter is usually my biggest Ebates check of the year. If you’re new to Ebates, they will give you a $10 welcome bonus with your first online purchase of at least $25 when you sign up. There. You just saved $10. If you’ve been skeptical of Ebates in the past, go ahead and try it out now before Christmas. I imagine you will be pretty happy with it when the Big Fat Check comes in the mail. Read about the details of using Ebates here.
Download the Honey Extension*
I’m a new Honey user, but so far it’s been magical! Sign up for Honey here and then download the browser extension. Whenever you get to a checkout page online, Honey will pop up and automatically scan the entirety of the internet for promotional codes that may be applicable to your order. This saves me time I would have spent searching for codes myself and the search with Honey is more successful. When ordering on Amazon, Honey will let you know if there is another seller offering a lower price for that item. The best part? You can combine Honey with the other tips I’ve listed to keep on stacking the Christmas savings.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Yep, this is a real thing. It’s like discounted money, which would be awesome if it were out there. These two websites are the next best thing:
Have you ever gotten a gift card that you didn’t use? It probably sat around in your wallet for a couple years until you lost it or it expired and that money just floated away into space. On Raise.com, you can sell these unwanted gift cards for about 80% of face value (price varies based on the store and the gift card’s value). The website then sells the card at a discounted price to someone else who will use it. Most of the gift cards have never been used and can be wrapped up and given as actual gifts. The cards with odd amounts remaining can be purchased by you and then used for Christmas shopping at the store to increase your savings. The cards are either physical gift cards that will be mailed to you or they are electronic cards that will appear in your inbox, sometimes immediately. Sign up with this link and you will receive $5 credit towards your next purchase right off the bat.
Brace yourself, because here’s the kicker: Raise.com is a website listed on Ebates. This means you have the opportunity to gain cash back twice on the same purchase! Is your head spinning? Check out this scenario:
Your mother-in-law collects a specific set of china sold at Belk. There are two new seasonal pieces this year and together, they cost $100. Let’s say Belk has a 20% off sale on this set of china for Cyber Monday. Now your gift is $80. Not bad, but we can do better.
You sign up for Raise.com which gives you $5 store credit to use on a purchase.
You then go through your Ebates account to get to Raise.com. The current Ebates cash back rate for Raise.com is 1%.
On Raise.com, you find this little gem:
You pay $58.93 – $5 store credit for a gift card valued at $68.36 and receive 1% cash back with Ebates, which is $0.54.
Now you go through Ebates AGAIN to get cash back at Belk (mind blown!!!), where the current rate is 2%. You use your gift card in its entirety and your debit card for the rest. You receive cash back in the amount of $1.60.
You spent $63.43 after rebates
You saved $36.57 total
You earned “Daughter-in-law of the Year.” Not too shabby, sister.
Similar to Raise.com, Gift Card Granny allows you to buy and sell gift cards. The main difference is that this website has a point system. You can earn points when you buy and sell gift cards. You can then redeem them for free gift cards when you earn enough points.
All Together Now
Just like we can save by stacking store sales, coupons, and rebates with the Grocery Coupon Strategy, we can apply similar principles to Christmas shopping:
- Start looking early so that you can get great gifts at budget-friendly prices.
- Purchase when items are on sale.
- Go through Ebates as much as possible.
- Use the Honey browser extension to look for promotional codes.
- Buy items with discounted gift cards.
I would love to hear about your awesome Christmas deals! Comment below to share your finds with us. Happy Christmas shopping!
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