How to Avoid January Credit Card Depression - Unique Gifter

How to Avoid January Credit Card Depression

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(… Prozac, for depression, get it?)

Okay, perhaps the title is a tad overreaching, but the concept is bang on.  Inspired by several recent posts, I thought I would offer up a few suggestions on ways to save money for Christmas and on Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanza, or Christmakkah).

How to Avoid January Credit Card Depression

1 – Funding with Money!

There are a few approaches to saving up for Christmas.  One that I really like was mentioned by Jordann, which applies to people who receive biweekly paycheques.  She likes to use the third paycheque from a month where she receives three.  That gives an easy total budget to use and you know you have the money beforehand.  A note on this: if you pay your mortgage biweekly, you’re not going to have the whole cheque to use for gift money!

Another method that I like is to put away a little bit every month.  Saving $30 a month is a lot easier than scrambling for a few hundred in one month!  You could even put this money in a TFSA (Canada) or ISA (UK), so that it earns a little bit and stays separate.  Your withdrawals will be at the end of the year, so you shouldn’t have to worry about re-depositing over your limit for the year.

Another way to fund your gift giving is to start buying gifts early, so that your spending is spread out over several months or weeks, not all happening in the last half of December!  This also lets you look for sales and deals.

2 – Funding with Points!

Start early!  This way you have time for everything to arrive in time.  It also lets you make more informed decisions and cross people off your list.  Check the balances on any point credit cards, airmiles, aeroplan, or customer loyalty cards.  Seeing as you have already made a list of all the people you plan to give gifts to, you can then go through the catalogues and see what, if anything, you can match up to recipients.  It is probably good to remember that not all points have linear values and sometimes it may not be worth getting the $20 DVD with those points if in a few months you will be able to get a better dollar per point ratio.  That said, it is probably not worth keeping them forever so that you can get the Jetski in the Zellers catalogue.  The Zellers will be gone by the time you have that many points.  You will also probably be gone by the time you have that many points.

3 – Shop Sales!

Again, because you have a list of everyone you need to buy for, and some ideas that you’ve been tracking effortlessly, you can keep an eye out for sales and shop for bargains.  Daisy mentioned in her post that her experience in retail has left her knowing that the good sales are long gone by November, so get on it!  Check online flyers, check online retailers, check eBay, check Kijiji, check Craigslist!

If you keep a gift stash, as I have been known to do, go take a look at your stash and compare it to your list of names.  Can you use anything from your stash?  If so, way to go, you just saved yourself some money.

 4 – Use Gift Cards You’ll Never Use!

I sometimes end up with small balances on gift cards, or gift cards that I’m never going to get around to using.  For example, when I bought an external hard drive a few weeks ago at Staples, I was given a $10 Sears gift card.  I live almost 3 hours from the nearest Sears.  You know that I regifted that bad boy, it was free money that I didn’t want to see go to waste!  [Before you ask who on earth would want a $10 Sears gift card, know that it was a Happy Tuesday gift to a couple that were moving and thus could use it.]

My employer also gives gift cards as part of an incentive program, so I try to use those to buy all sorts of things, including presents.

5 – DIY Gifts!

There are a myriad of ways that you can create things and give gifts that require time and effort but less funds.  Poke around on this site for a few, though the possibilities here are endless!

[Photo – CC Attribution Share Alike – D.L – Prozac Sprinkles]

21 thoughts on “How to Avoid January Credit Card Depression”

  1. Hey thanks for the mention! I'm definitely a firm believer in planning ahead, I think that's the easiest way to easily and stresslessly get enough money together for gift giving.

    1. Thanks for your post! I don't think I'd heard of that idea before it. Planning ahead is great, especially when you're negotiating cash flow AND you tend to get way better deals. I think I have half of mine done, simply by stumbling onto sales for things I know I can get people.

      1. I like to buy gifts all year round when I spot the perfect bargain buy for someone and keep a "gift stash". It spreads the cost and stops my old habit of overcompensating when I couldn't find the perfect gift for someone in the final run up to Christmas. It also means I have a stash of gifts to hand for those emergency presents throughout the year.

  2. Some good advice :) – I would say that saving the points is a good one.. We do this with our supermarket reward points.. we save them up all year round and then use them for our (expensive) christmas shop. Supermarkets stock more and more these days too so could even be used for presents!

  3. These are great tips!~ I am doing most of the my Christmas shopping with credit card rewards this year.

    1. Veronica @ Pelican o

      Was it you who posted about having $900 worth of reward points cash? That was an awesome post :)

  4. We set aside $50/month so we're not surprised when birthdays, weddings, or Christmas rolls around. We won't be spending very much this Christmas though since we went to Ireland with the hub's family this summer for his sister's wedding. Quite the expensive Christmas present!

  5. Love this. I have a small family so I just set aside $25 a paycheck for Christmas. Since I get paid every 2 weeks, that gives me 26 checks, or $650 for Christmas. That's enough for the big open house, and the 4 people I need to buy for. I usually spend a little more than that, but the bulk of it comes from what I've set aside each payday.
    My recent post Healthy Eating Costs and Food Shame

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