Thursday, May 19, 2011

Living on a Budget; How to Afford Christmas: A Yearlong Process

I know it may seem strange or overwhelming to talk about Christmas this early in the year, however, if we have to live on a budget throughout the year, how can we possibly afford all the extras at Christmas time? 

My solution: Think Christmas throughout the year!!

Here are some of the things I do in order to be able to afford Christmas and four Birthdays in December:

  • Survey Money: Any money or gift cards I earn from survey sites, I put directly into my little Christmas fund box.  At the end of the year, it's a little extra cash for presents, and with gift cards, I either gift them or use them to buy presents.
  • Sweepstakes and Giveaways: Throughout the year I enter sweepstakes and blog giveaways, and any toys I win I keep hidden for Christmas or Birthdays.  This year so far, I've collected a Scooby Doo blanket from a blog giveaway and two Hotwheels Stealth cars ($50 value).
  • Reward Sites:  I collect Pampers Points, My Coke Reward Points, and more throughout the year, and when I see a reward that could be used as a present I redeem it.  Recently, on Pampers rewards I had enough to points to redeem for a Razor Scooter, which will be used for my youngest boy's birthday.
  • Swagbuck: On swagbucks, you can earn points just by searching the web through their site, there are other easy ways to earn points, then you can redeem them for prizes. I redeem my points for $5 amazon.com gift codes, and just collect in my amazon account, until I need to buy presents.
  • Shop Clearance:  Starting in January, shop the clearance aisles!  Every time you see items on clearance, think whether it could be a present for someone on your list.  For example: Target clearances their toys out twice a year up to 75% sometimes 90%.  Toys go on clearance in January for their Christmas toys, and at the end of Summer.
All these methods don't pay for all my Christmas expenses, but they definitely help with my Christmas budget so we don't end up in debt.  Plus, it actually makes it a lot less stressful during Holiday times when I already have most the presents I need. 

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