Friday, December 19, 2014

Money Saving Tips: A Christmas That Will STILL Be Memorable!

Last year, about a week before Thanksgiving, we found out that my husband, who was scheduled to deploy was not only going to be around for Thanksgiving, but ALSO for Christmas.

We were incredibly ELATED!  And for the first time in my life, I showed that by going absolutely crazy in gifts for him.  Don't get me wrong, it came from a good place...I thought I wouldn't be buying him any gifts, and just couldn't help myself.

But then...in January...the bill came.  And I wasn't too elated about that.  For the first time EVER I had to leave a balance on our credit card because we couldn't afford to pay it off (something that I had prided myself in before!).  It was a tough pill to swallow that I had went a little too nuts.  So, I learned my lesson.  And I tightened things up this year, and you know what, I have a feeling that this Christmas will STILL be memorable, and, I won't have a big bill waiting for me when January rolls around.

1. I buy my wrapping paper, bags and bows at the Dollar Store:  I feel like this is an easy one.  But seriously, you can get wrapping paper that is truly cute and not flimsy at the dollar store...and it's actually $1.  While you're at it, you can get ribbon for 50 cents, bows, bags, and boxes.  It is so much cheaper than buying it at whatever store you're in as you're shopping for your gifts.

2. Ease Back on the Christmas Cards: This was actually part of my demise last year.  I spent a LOT of money on Christmas Cards.  I truly love sending them out though.  I realize that most of us have Facebook, and it's so nice getting a card in the mail.  But seriously, between making the actual card (if you do a cute photo card like I usually do), the stamps, getting the pictures taken....it adds up to a lot.  So, this year, because we pretty much look exactly the same, we opted not to do them at all.  However, if you have kids and you want people to see how much they've changed, I recommend just trimming your list back.  As a people pleaser myself, I know that that's super hard.  But honestly, do ALL of your co-workers really care?  Send them to your great aunts and uncles, grandma's and grandpa's, aunts and uncles...the people that you know when they look at it, they are going to say things like 'look at how nice everyone looks!', 'those kids have grown so much this past year'.  As opposed to just adding it to the stack of other Christmas cards.

3. Give the gift of Baking or DIY: You want to know the gifts that I have kept the longest?  The ones that were made for me.  I have  a close friend, that, every year, she makes some cute Christmas decoration, and I truly look forward to it!  Same with people who give me a plate of cookies, because man, their gift is baking, and you WANT to be on that list.  Now, I realize that your kids may not necessarily appreciate a gift like this.  But the people in your life that you want to know you are thinking of them, but you also can't quite seem to justify ANOTHER Candle and Lotion gift set (that they very may well re-gift), give them the homemade fudge that your grandma gave you the recipe for.  Or look up a simple Christmas ornament that you can make on Pinterest.  Seriously, people appreciate those gifts SO much more.  And, it's almost always, much easier on your budget.

4. Skip the Christmas Show: Check Out Some Amazing Lights!: When I was little, my parents made a BIG deal about going to see the Nutcracker Ballet.  We didn't have a lot of money growing up, but I remember that the night of the show, they gave me a fake white fur coat that they had bought especially for that night, and I felt like a MILLION bucks.  This year, I really wanted to see a Christmas Show with my husband, but you know what?  The tickets were pretty pricey.  And, we'd made a conscious decision to watch our budget much more closely this year.  So, I found out that around here, there was a light show that was right on the boardwalk (we live by a beach).  For $15, we could drive down the boardwalk, and see a pretty awesome lightshow.  So, we grabbed some hot chocolates, and drove down the boardwalk.  It was so nice, and we were able to chat about doing things like that with our kids, what our favorite memories of Christmas were growing up.  It was so nice.  Sometimes, even if you know of a neighborhood that just goes crazy with Christmas lights, you don't even have to pay anything at all.  There's a reason people put out lights, they want you to look!  So take advantage!

5. Make Sure Your Family Understands the Meaning of Christmas: One thing I will always give my parents credit for was making a BIG deal about holidays, our birthdays, vacations, or really, anything, very special, and I realize now that not a lot of money was spent.  We almost always got the one 'big' thing that we wanted at Christmas, and don't get me wrong, I was one of those kids that couldn't sleep at night because I was just SO excited about what magical gift was going to be under the tree for me.  But honestly, I don't really know that it was the 'gifts' that I was excited about.  But honestly, it was the 'magic' of Christmas that I was so excited for, the whole season.  I always saw all my extended family which was fun because I was always really close to my cousins.  At our church I was in a pagaent of some kind, be it an angel, or Mary.  We were usually baking cookies, going Christmas shopping with friends.  I just loved all of it.  And of course, the whole REASON for Christmas.  We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  I've not had the privilege of having a lot of 'things' in my life.  We live a good life, don't get me wrong, and we are very blessed, but in the times that I have received things that I thought were incredibly special, no matter what it is, it quickly loses it's luster, and I can find myself moving on to something else that I think I need.  But the joy of the season, that's something that never seems to fade, and I hope this Christmas season finds you joyous, whether your budget is big or small, and that you are able to spend it with the people you love most.


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