I know that the school year has just started for my kids, but they are already bugging me for Christmas presents. It is as if they can sniff out the fact that Christmas is in the air just a few short months away. They’re like bloodhounds and won’t let go of it! On the upside for me, I learned a few tricks many moons ago when I was a very, very broke single mother to make this time of year much less painful for my bank account.
The deal is that when the kids voice a want for something for either Christmas or their birthday’s, I tell them to show it to me. Then they pose with the object so that I can snap a photo. I prefer to get some indicator of which store we happen to be at, this one happened to be at Target, so that I know where I can find it. But a lot of times I end up shopping online, instead of going back to the store, depending on the deal.
I keep these pictures in my phone and then every couple of weeks or so, I go through them. I do this either when I am physically at the stores to see if any of them are on sale, or browse online and see if I can find a deal on them there.
When I run across any of these items for a really good deal, then I purchase them and put them in a big box in my attic. That way when Christmas or their birthday’s come along, I have a cache of items to choose between. They are always surprised that I remembered what they wanted!
This is something that we have talked about at least a few times now. Putting money in buckets, no matter which style you prefer to do it, is very helpful to keep you within budget. I really like Mint because it seamlessly syncs with your accounts and you can create as many different buckets and savings goals as you like. It will email you, usually weekly, to let you know what your spending looked like for the past week and will give you alerts if you are getting close to being over your budget in a certain category. I know Grayson uses Personal Capital and loves that program too. Both are free!
This is just the one that I have been using of late, but there are plenty of other programs and apps that you can use to help you budget. A lot of banks will help you set up buckets with their online system, as well as some credit cards. If you are unsure if your banking institution or credit card does this, I would login and search buckets or budgeting and see what you find. You may be surprised just how helpful they can be with this.
Another standard go to for me is the envelope system, proposed by Dave Ramsey, who has a budgeting tool now as well. As you can see, there are a plethora of options out there for you when it comes to budgeting for the holiday’s.
The biggest part of this whole process is budgeting, however. I decide how much I am planning to spend, that is within my budget and my goals, for each kid. However, I don’t do this just for Christmas but for their birthday’s also, so that I know what my grand total is for each kid that I plan to spend all year. The last two years, and this one, I have budgeted the same amount for each of them. I spend $300 max for each kid, but sometimes I get away with less depending on what sales I find and what they want.
Last year they begged me for a PS3, but that was out of my budget for the year and their birthday’s had already passed. So I told them if they really wanted it then they would have a few months to do chores around their dad’s house and grandparents to earn money to help pay for it.
My son begged me for a PS4 instead, but once I showed him how much more the PS4 was than the PS3, and that they still made the exact same games for both, he agreed that the PS3 was a better deal, especially since they had to earn half of the cash.
I was able to find the PS3 for $200 on Amazon. It was brand new, came with one motion controller and 2 games!
All in all, I was able to get away with sneaking under my budget last year. Since I have two children, my grand total per year would be $600. But they worked to earn half of the PS3 money and that helped them get other things that they wanted, unbeknownst to them, and I still got out cheaper than I had planned. Overall, I spent $557 and then rolled the rest of that into presents for this year’s Christmas and birthdays.
I was pretty excited about that and they were thrilled with what they got. This year I am still on track for remaining in budget and already have a few things stashed in my attic for the upcoming holiday’s.
What are some of the ways that you make the holiday’s easier on your wallet when you have children who want EVERYTHING?
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