That’s right. Start thinking about Christmas. It’s not that far away. We’re already a third of the way through the year.
If you truly want to save on your Christmas shopping, you need to start planning now.
Start by setting a budget. Determine how many people you will buy presents for and how much you will spend per person. When drawing up a Christmas budget, don’t forget to include costs like Christmas cards and postage, and increased food budgets for family gatherings and baking Christmas goodies.
Once you have a budget, figure out how much money you will have to set aside from each paycheck to reach that goal. Put that money in a separate bank account and don’t touch it until it’s time to shop.
Another strategy (and one that I use often) is to shop all year round. Watch the clearance sections of your favorite department stores. Check out great websites like Want Not, The Bargainist, and Slick Deals to find the latest steals online.
Keep an eye out at this summer’s garage sales. You may find a perfect item for a family members collection or a great gag gift for next to nothing.
Think gift baskets. If you watch the sales and really use those coupons, you could fill a gift basket for next to nothing. You can find cheap baskets at garage sales, thrift stores, and dollar stores.
Take advantage of those credit card rewards and programs like My Points and Ebates. You can earn gift cards, cash back and other goodies just by doing your regular spending (just pay those credit card bills in full each month!) .
My Points is a great program that rewards you with points for reading emails and participating in various offers. Since I started a few months ago, I’ve earned $45 in gift cards. If you want to sign up, email me, and I’ll refer you.
Ebates is a shopping portal that offers you cash back for purchases you make through their website. And if you sign up through this link and make a purchase before May 31, you can make an easy $10. I’ve already made more than $40 since January.
Both My Points and Ebates send out alerts for great deals on all kinds of items.
I also love to check out stores’ online outlets, such as JcPenney’s, LandsEnd, and LL Bean. LLBean has great deals for its Thursday Morning Markdowns, such as an $69 Adirondack Barn Coat for $19. Don’t forget to sign up for your favorite stores’ e-mail lists, so you can be alerted to deals on sales events and free shipping opportunities. Kohl’s has free shipping almost all the time if you are on their list.
You can also consider making your Christmas gifts. Sign up for coupons from Joann Fabrics and watch the newspapers for Michaels and Hobby Lobby ads to save on supplies. You can also get great deals on photo products from Snapfish and Shutterfly, too, if you watch for them. The internet is a gold mine of free tutorials on how to make all kinds of crafty items.
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? How do you find good deals on gifts?