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I start grocery boxes at the end of February for the next Christmas holidays. I keep a list of things I buy regularly, then wait until they are on a super sale and stock up on them. I start with non-food articles like cleaning supplies, then start stocking up on things we use everyday, like our childrens' aspirins, razors, toilet tissue, etc. Later in the summer I start purchasing canned goods, salad dressings, etc.
In November, I start picking up party crackers, peanuts, even dog food. When it comes time to buy the Christmas goodies, the grocery money is freed up for treats and all the extras. The surplus groceries usually last until the end of January at least, giving me a break in the budget.
I started doing this several years ago, and couldn't believe how much it eased the Christmas spending. Just make sure to check the "best by" dates.
By Mother of 5 from Nova Scotia
Start new rules for Christmas gift giving now!
Now is the perfect time to discuss with family and friends that maybe it's time to rethink gift giving for next Christmas.
In our opinion, Christmas is for the young children and once they reach 20 years old, cease to exchange gifts among every family member. Have each family only exchange gifts within their own family. Sure saves time and money, trying to figure what to buy! Merchants may not like this!
I think everyone may be relieved; discuss the subject now, not when Christmas is approaching. See what happens. This has worked very well in our family, for us it is the great-grands, others it is grands, cousins, nieces and nephews. Everyone in our family enjoys this.
Our children and grandchildren came up with this idea/suggestion about 4 years ago, we were in agreement too! Everyone in the family only buys gifts for our great-grands. Also, we have a heavily decorated interior Christmas house with trees all over the house and lots of white decorative lights! Kids love it, it's gotten to be a tradition! :o) It has always been the tradition that everyone comes to our house for Christmas dinner. It is truly a stress free festive time of year for everyone.
By Syd from Dunkirk, MD
This tip is late for this year but (I think) invaluable for the years to come. Get a Christmas Club account at your bank. They either deduct a set amount from your checking account ($20 a month or more) or you deposit monthly. It runs for 10 months and at the end of the time Oct/Nov you get a check for the years' amount plus interest. I'm careless about putting money by every month, but if it's not in the account, I can't spend it and then I have a lump sum when I most need it. One year I had to draw out the accumulated dollars in the summer, but I've done this for a long time.
I use credit cards sparingly, never carrying a balance (the credit card companies hate people like me)! And I use only cards that give me rewards.
That being said, I always use any coupon or sale that I can get my hands on all year long. If the sale items and/or coupons are not for an item that is needed at the present time, I purchase items to be used as gifts later on whether for a birthday, anniversary, shower, or Christmas. These purchases add up to nice rewards.
I never use my rewards points for myself. I always accumulate them until they are about to expire, and then purchase a large gift for someone special, for free!
It is amazing how little I spend during the month of December while all my friends are frantic to pay their bills come January!
Source: I have learned to be frugal out of necessity.
By Faye from Weedsport, NY
On New Years Day I start my Christmas fund. Everytime I write a check, in my check register, I round it off to the next dollar and forget about it. After a while you do it automatically and boy does it add up. It is also easier to subtract for your balance (no cents, to fool with). As of today I have $258.00 in the bank for my Christmas fund. It's a lot easier and more fun to buy for Christmas every year instead of worrying about spending your bill money in December. Several of my friends have started doing this and they enjoy Christmas a lot more, too.
By BARBARA from WIGGINS, MS.
Entertaining can get expensive very quickly, especially during the holidays. Here are some helpful hints to to keep you under budget this Christmas season.
Here are some simple ideas to help you stay within your budget this Christmas and still have a wonderful time with your family.
Set a budget TODAY for your gift giving this year. By setting a limit and sticking to it, I've saved a ton of $. So often, don't we all just pick up a little extra and a little extra over and over?