Yay! We have made it to the week of Christmas, but we still have a few people to shop for. We still need to wrap gifts…and send out cards…and get to the very busy post office. It is the season crunch time and there is still so much to do. Here are a few ideas to keep the stress down while finishing your holiday chore list.
Wrap For Donation
There are charity organizations, such as pet shelters, that offer wrapping for a donation. You can choose the amount you are willing to pay for their service. You get your presents wrapped without stressing out. You don’t have to buy the stuff to wrap presents yourself, or at least , you don’t have to buy quite as much as you would have. Plus, knowing your money goes to a good cause is just an added bonus.
Buy Gifts In Bulk
Places like Sam’s Club or Costco have items such as gourmet hot chocolate as several boxes packaged together. There are some packages that come with up to twelve types of tea in their own decorative tins. If you are still searching for gifts for a number of friends get one of these packages and break them down to the individual box or tin. Stick a bow and card on them and give them out to your friends. It will save you both time and money and you will still be able to get your friends’ gifts out in time for Christmas.
I know it seems impersonal to give gift cards, but consider the benefits. It’s likely that you haven’t a clue what to get most of the people that you have put off buying a present for. When giving a gift card you know they will be able to get something that they will like. Buying gift cards is also a good way to stay in budget. Often at the last minute we are in such a hurry to get a gift for someone, we spend more than we should. Gift cards are for a specified denomination of money. You don’t need to worry about going over budget too much.
The 4th is upon us! That means BBQs, swimming, fireworks and spending money. Like most holidays, your wallet can get hit hard. Fireworks alone have a markup of around 200%! Make sure you check out the post we did last year about saving money on fireworks. But fireworks aren’t the only way you can save money. Check out these other tips for saving money on this patriotic holiday.
1. Have a potluck. Don’t try to do a big BBQ all on your own. Instead spent it with friends or family and have everyone bring something. You still get to have fun and eat a great meal, but while saving money.
2. Check your town’s event calendar or the chamber of commerce calendar. The 4th is usually full of free events and parades. And who doesn’t love a parade!?
3. Go to a public fireworks display. This is another most likely free event your town may have. You don’t have to buy the fireworks, do the work to set them off or clean up the mess of them. Have someone else do all that and sit back and enjoy!
4. Make your own desserts. Don’t buy all the cutesy 4th of July desserts. It’s much cheaper to make your own. Check out THIS fruit pizza recipe. I had this several years ago at a 4th of July party and now I have to have it every year. It’s so cheap to make too!
How do you plan on saving money this 4th of July?
I can hardly believe we are already thinking about Thanksgiving. This year it’s earlier than normal, but it’s a great time to start planning so you can save money. As always the more you prepare, the less you’ll spend. Plus it’s always good to split your expenses between two pay periods. That way it doesn’t hit your budget as hard if you budget through your paycheck.
Here are some other tips to help you prepare on a budget.
1. Save your bread! We waste bread a lot and it makes me sad! So instead of throwing it away, I’ve been freezing the small amounts that is not so fresh, but still usable. Then for Thankgiving, I’ll get it out and dry it in the oven and use it for stuffing! Instead of buying the pre-made stuff, I can make my own now.
2. Visit multiple stores. Instead of doing all your shopping in the last few days up until turkey day, shop around and price compare now. It may not save you a ton of money, but if you have the time try it.
3. Start looking for sale items now. This goes for Christmas ingredients too. Flour, sugar and other items that don’t go bad are on sale in many stores right now. If you see a good sale on flour for Thanksgiving, buy it now for Christmas.
4. Look for coupons! All of the major coupon companies are pretty good about having seasonal coupons in their inserts. Even if you aren’t a couponer, get them at least then. They are usually even grouped together.
I know. I know. You think I’m crazy for mentioning the “H” word in August. Perhaps it is because I live in one of the hottest cities in the nation, or just because I can be a romantic, I’m already looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, it’s not just for romance sake; there’s a practical side too.
Who says we have to wait until commercials tell us to go buy Christmas presents in order to buy Christmas presents? I have found some great deals lately that I’ve decided to turn into Christmas gifts. I recently got a great deal on a couple of educational toys for my children. Everything in me wants to give it to them now. However, it will be just as fun and just as educational in just a few months. So, I’m throwing some Christmas wrapping paper around them now (in order to keep me from caving)!
There are great deals on office and school supplies now. That includes crayons and craft supplies. So, while it’s fun to use all these crafts and crayons now, think through what you may want to save or use as part of a gift just a few months from now.
If you live in a city like mine, you can actually keep wearing some summer attire in the fall and winter. So, as summer items go on clearance, think about clothes that may work as gifts where appropriate.
Companies like Shutterfly and VistaPrint make offers available all year long. Walgreens and Target sometimes have free print deals. Keep an eye out for any offer that may work as a gift for a friend or family member (whoever would appreciate pictures of your family). Right now, VistaPrint has a fantastic deal on a personalized calendar. You can post your own pictures and personalize dates on a 12-month calendar (you decide the 12-month period). The calendar is free; shipping is $5.32. Head over to VistaPrint between now and August 31 to take advantage of this great gift idea!
Have you started your Christmas/holiday shopping yet?
We are still five days away from unwrapping all those amazing presents from your loved ones, but inevitably you will have to return or exchange some of those gifts. According to a Consumer Reports, “One in five Americans, or nearly 50 million in all, expect to return a Christmas gift this year. Roughly the same percentage of all adults were stuck with a bad gift last year, though 18% donated the offending present, 15% re-gifted it and 22% either returned it or just threw it out.”
Just last night, my husband and I had to return our brand new Blu-ray home theater system that randomly quit working. It would have been a huge hassle had I not followed some of the tips I am about to share with you.
1. Keep your receipt for everything. This is probably known by most people, but it’s definitely the key to hassle free returning. A lot of places like Lowes and Target can look up your receipt using the debit or credit card you bought the item with, but it’s much quicker just to have it yourself.
2. Keep the original boxes the item came in. This is where my husband became my hero. We had our receipt for our Blu-ray player, but I didn’t think we had the box. I called the store and told them that and they said they couldn’t exchange it without the box. Thankfully, my husband had put the box away and we were able to pack it up and exchange it for a working on.
3. Get it done as quickly as possible. Most retailers only take items back within a certain period. Stores range anywhere from 30-90 days. Do yourself a favor and don’t wait until it’s too late.
4. Check the online to store return policy. Did you buy the item online? Some stores have polices that make you mail the item back even if they have an actual store front. Check before you stand in line on December 26th.
5. Try not to open the item. If you know for sure you don’t want it, don’t open it. An unopened item with a receipt is the easiest to return.
What has been your experience for returning gifts? Good or Bad?