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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]