It’s November. Tightwad doesn’t think that Christmas planning should start until after November 11’s Remembrance Day, but ever since she glimpsed eggnog in her local super market she’s been thinking about Christmas. Here are some ways to stay on track this year.
Make a plan How much can you afford to spend this year? In addition to gifts, how much do you need to allocate for travel, parties and greeting cards… and postage? Mapping out these expenses ahead of time will help you avoid overspending at the last minute.
Create a gift list The Big Man in Red makes a list and checks it twice, and you should do the same. Old school pen and paper will do, but you can also download a gift list app to your smartphone to keep with you at all times. Check out Santa's Bag for iPhone or Christmas Gift List for Android, free apps that also help you track your budget.
Suggest secret Santa If your gift list is bigger than your budget, look for an opportunity to organize a Secret Santa swap with family or friends. Others may be just as relieved to not buy so many gifts, plus the swap party will be a blast! Use Elfster to easily organize all the details including participants and gift assignments.
Sell some stuff Now is an ideal time to declutter and make some cash off unwanted clothes, electronics or outgrown kids’ stuff. Determine what to sell or donate, and host a garage sale or resurrect your eBay or Craigslist account to downsize.
Get creative with gift cards If you're still holding onto cards from last year, consider putting them to good use this season. These cards can be re-gifted, used to purchase a gift, or exchanged for cash on sites like GiftCardGranny.com. They aren’t useful being in your wallet.
Re-gift and Reuse Take inventory of last year's stash of gift wrap reuse what you can – chances are you have some packed away that you have forgotten about – probably bought in the after Christmas sales. Look around - is there anything you don't want? You may have coffee mugs that you have never used - re-gift new mugs with hot cocoa – a local coffee shop gift card would fit in there too!
Remember shopping holidays You don't have to be a diehard Black Friday shopper to find the best deals this season. Other shopping events including Small Business Saturday and Free Shipping Day offer unique and far less stressful ways to save money on gifts.