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Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas on a Tight Budget

After I read the informative article, “Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas”, I decided to share some of my own ideas on how to get through Christmas on a tight budget. ( Most Americans are looking for ways to save money on Christmas gifts. It may be a tight budget or the number of people on your list, but everyone wants to give a nice gift without breaking the bank. These are some suggestions on how to do that:

1. As daunting as it may seem, shop department store special sales. Yes, it may be crowded, but those one-day sales lead to a lot of savings on gift items. You are going to buy the gifts anyway, so save yourself money on your purchases. Be sure to bring the coupons that come in the mail for extra savings on a certain day, even on sale or clearance merchandise.

2. I have nine grandchildren and I’m on a fixed income. It’s impossible for me to go out and buy an expensive gift for each grandchild. After Christmas each year, I shop the sales and buy each grandchild a special Christmas ornament for the next year. When Christmas comes, I write their names and the year on the ornaments so they have a keepsake. I’ve been doing this since they were born, so when the time comes for them to leave home, they will each have a collection of personalized ornaments to take with them. Then I purchase a ten dollar gift certificate for each one to go along with the ornament. The gift is special, but just right for my budget.

3. Each major bookseller has a website online. If you go to the “Bargain” section, you will find wonderful books for a fraction of the original cost. Some books are listed at eighty per cent off regular price. You can get an expensive hard-cover book for five dollars. Pick and choose special books for each person on your list. You have spent time looking for the perfect book for each person, but you haven’t spent a lot of money. The time you spend selecting the book is part of the thoughtful gift.

4. One of my credit cards gives you points for each dollar you spend. You can redeem these points for gift cards. I charge everything during the year (and pay my entire credit card balance each month) so I accumulate points. When Christmas comes, I redeem those points for gift cards at special stores for each of my adult children. Each of my grown children can then select the perfect gift for herself. It may seem generic to give gift cards, but my children and grandchildren love them. Why guess what they would like when they can select exactly what they like?

5. Don’t forget the discount stores for name-brand items at sale prices. Even the discount stores have sales on their already-discounted merchandise. You can find some good bargains this way.

6. Sometimes children or grandchildren have fund raisers at their schools. They usually sell magazines or small gifts to raise money for their school functions. Most of us buy something from them just to support their efforts, but why not make use of the gifts. Give someone a special magazine subscription that they will enjoy or a gift from the school’s selection. You can save these gifts for Christmas. You’ve supported the school fund raiser and selected some of your Christmas gifts.

7. When we are shopping, we may come across something that we think would be perfect for someone we know. Instead of passing up this item (especially if it’s on sale), buy it then and put it away for Christmas. When you buy a little at a time, the cost is spread out over the year and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

8. If you knit, crochet, or make quilts, hand made gifts are special and unique. Make a blanket or throw in someone’s favorite colors or a special pattern. My granddaughter’s other grandmother makes her a quilt for every season. Mittens for children who play outside in the winter are wonderful gifts. You can think of as many gifts as you have imagination.

A lot of these gifts are not expensive, but thoughtful. You can spend a lot of money (that you can’t afford) on Christmas gifts, and still not have done anything really special. An inexpensive gift that is selected with the person’s special interests in mind is just as wonderful as an expensive gift. It really is the thought that counts.


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