Does the thought of Christmas shopping on a budget make you sigh? If you live on a small income as we do I bet it does. Before we had kids our Christmas was small, just a gift or 2 for each other and gift cards for anyone we knew we would see who was a blood relative. Most of that went on a credit card – with a wish and a prayer we could pay it off at tax time.
Then we had kids, so did our friends and close relatives – and the cost of Christmas nearly broke us. We didn’t enjoy it and our attitude was far from Christ-Centered. Today I’ll share what we’ve learned about how to go Christmas shopping on a budget and keep your peace and joy!Today I'll share what we've learned about how to go Christmas shopping on a budget and keep your peace and joy! Click To Tweet
4 Steps to Christmas Shopping on a Budget
If you think I’m joking, think again. I could write 20K words on How to go broke shopping for Christmas because I lived that life for a while! These were our biggest mistakes – though they are common Christmas shopping tips.
- We waited until Black Friday to start shopping
- Gift Cards were our go-to gift.
- We didn’t put Christmas shopping into our Budget until November.
- Store-bought gifts were all we considered.
Are you guilty of some of these mistakes? Don’t feel like I’m judging you, we had no idea there was any other way to go Christmas shopping on a budget.
- The concept of a Christmas Budget never occurred to us.
- Shopping before Black Friday or Cyber Monday sounded ridiculous (isn’t that when all the deals come out?).
- We never thought long enough about who we shopped for to plan a gift they would love.
- I had no idea how to make anything so store-bought seemed logical.
Motivation to shop for Christmas on a shoestring budget
A little backstory…
The year was 2009, I was a new Stay at Home Mom. I had a complete break down over my Millennial husbands’ habit of job-hopping, the massive amount of debt they had accumulated and the lack of sleep from a year of colic with the newborn.
My husband quit a job with no intention of finding a new job and our marriage came crumbling down.
- 2 children
- 2 car payments
- 1 mortgage
- No insurance
- On food stamps
… and it was October – 2 Months before Christmas. We had nothing for anyone, our credit cards were maxed out and others had to step in to provide Christmas gifts for our kids.
We were thankful and blessed beyond what we deserved.
But along with that also came shame, guilt, embarrassment, and a motivation to never be in that position again.
God began to hatch a plan to help us never be in that position again.
Do you have a Christmas Budget?
Changing our Christmas Shopping habits began with a principle – if we are faithful over a little God will make us rule over much. From that verse, we made a plan to honor God with the little we had – especially at Christmas -by creating a Christmas budget.
Matthew 25:23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Learning How to go Christmas shopping on a budget all year and not go broke was not easy but it helped keep us from repeating our earlier mistakes.Learning How to go Christmas shopping on a budget all year and not go broke was not easy but it helped keep us from repeating our earlier mistakes. Click To Tweet
Step 1 – Set up a Christmas budget and go Christmas shopping every month.
Let me shoot straight with you. Christmas comes every year.
- Same month
- Same day
- With the same expectations that you will have gifts for those you care about.
Waiting until November to begin putting it in your budget is nieve and sets you up to go broke shopping for it.
Dave Ramsey ~ A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where your money went.
We took a video class called Financial Peace University in those crazy years and it changed our lives. In that class, we were able to get on the same page about our money issues in marriage which as huge.
I already used a budget every month, but I only put on it the bills and nonnegotiable (Gas, food, tithe, clothes, baby things, etc.) and if there was anything left over we went out to eat or who knows what else with that money.
Now, we save each month for things that come up yearly instead of monthly so we are not caught off guard.
- Car Insurance
- Tag Renewal
- Car Tax
- Special Donations
We know these things happen every year. Yet when they come around it used to send us into a panic. We spent everything we made and so we panicked over where the extra money would come from. And we would pray to GOd our provider when we were the ones not managing money well.
With a budget that covers the whole year, we are prepared.
How to save for Christmas
How do we know what to set aside in the Christmas budget?
I work backward to make a plan for that! Just look at the last year to be your guide. How much did you spend? Think through gifts for family, co-workers, and others, parties, food, traveling, clothes. Then take that number and add 5-10%. Now divide it by 12 so you know how much to save each month to be ready.
A Christmas budget sounds like drudgery but really it’s helped me keep joy at Christmas.
Joy has been the word God is pressing into my life this year. Check out what that’s looked like here at How To Cling to The Joy of The Lord Every Day!
And if you are into Illustrated Faith or Bible Journaling, be sure to check out the 30 Days of Joy Bible Journaling Starter Kit 30 Days of Joy Bible Journaling Tool Kit
Step 2. Do not wait until November to start Christmas shopping.
Yes, I know there are great deals Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I didn’t say do all your shopping before them but don’t wait to start shopping.
Learning how to do Christmas cheap means shopping all year long and guess what? Things go on sale all year long.
Most people have the same hobby or interest and those things go on sale with seasons (not usually in November either). This makes early Christmas shopping a must when you are Christmas shopping on a budget!
- Pro Mom Tip for Christmas toys on a budget:
- Kids don’t change that much. If you watch what your kids are into through the year you can catch appropriate gifts when they are changing out seasons at the store – or on Amazon Prime Day (which is usually a better deal than Black Friday nowadays.)
I regularly shop the end caps of Target to catch things as they go out of season. Most of the time I get them for 25% – 50% off their original price.
Now, will they restock those things for Black Friday? You bet.
Will they be 50% off? Maybe, maybe not.
Is buying and storing it in February worth it to save your sanity? Absolutely!
A pitfall of shopping so close to Christmas
Another reason I love early Christmas shopping is the Craze that comes so close to Christmas. A Crazy Shoppers mentality kicks in when stores are crowded, lines are too long and people are irritable. You might get a deal on one thing, then overspend on the rest – just to get it all done and get home alive.
But if you make a Christmas budget, then plan on early Christmas shipping each month – little by little you will have a stockpile set.
On Black Friday / Cyber Monday when that big thing is on sale, you go in get it and come out – and don’t go broke or lose your religion over Christmas shopping on a budget!!!!!!
Step 3. Gift cards are a fall back that cost you more
When learning how to survive Christmas with no money we realized a crutch. Instead of shopping with love for my list I would just get a gift card.
Gift Cards usually hit you at $25 – $50.
Most gifts (at least the frugal gifts) are closer to $10-$20. One year we spent $500 in Gift cards alone. Ouch. Then we just couldn’t do it anymore – something had to change.
As I was out shopping each month I noticed certain things go on sale at the same time every year!
- Fishing things go on sale in the fall.
- Hunting things in the winter.
- Different crafts go on sale after each major holiday is done.
To avoid gift cards (and avoid going broke) all I needed to do was shop intentionally for those people all year too.
This helps you find inexpensive Christmas gifts for coworkers, family Christmas ideas on a budget and many cheap gifts under $5.
What?!?!?!? Yep! Talk about Christmas shipping on a budget like a pro!!!!!!!!!!
Step 4. Store-bought gifts are not the only option
We had only ever given store-bought gifts for 2 reasons. One, I am not crafty and two, I had no talent for making things.
Then we had children. Kids love to give gifts. It is a beautiful piece of their innocence and overwhelming love for others, but I could not afford to let them buy gifts for all their friends and loved ones.
As we began learning to make things – things kids can make and we found an amazing Christmas Tradition began.
Now as a family we love scouring Pinterest to find Easy Homemade Gift It is a way to spend time together, have good conversations and laugh and play. If you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it – even if the gifts are just for grandma and grandpa (who will love them!).
Homemade gifts are easy to make, take a little time but are a great way for the whole family to bond. Plus they usually work out to about $1 per gift (great if you are trying to save money, get out of debt, plan a vacation, etc.). And your family will love them – and the kids will love getting to help make them!
Which of these 4 steps to learn Christmas Shopping on a Budget can you apply today?
Christmas shopping on a budget – or birthdays or anniversaries or anything really – does not mean you have to give up the fun and excitement of the occasion! You just need a well thought out plan to enjoy all of those holidays and be a good steward of your finances.
- Create a Christmas budget and go Christmas shopping every month
- Early Christmas shopping can be fun
- Limit Gift cards and be more thoughtful
- Homemade gifts are a real option that many will love!
I’d love to know how you celebrate Christmas and keep it Christ-Centered? Drop me a comment so we can chat!
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