Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Do you dread this time of the year? Do you spend too much and worry about the credit card bill coming in?
I know you are thinking it isn't even Halloween yet and she is talking about Christmas. That is because one of the things that I have learned over the years is that the gifts are usually more reasonably priced and in stock before Halloween. I try to get mine done early every year for those two reasons and to avoid the crowds.
This year I have half of it done so far. I am awaiting a wish list from one of my sons for his family. As the grandchildren grow older each year, their interests change and I don't know what they already have. So to avoid the disappointment of my grandchildren and my sons having to make returns, I ask for the wish lists every year.
The best part of buying gifts this year is not having to spend any money. I do the majority of my shopping through Amazon. I have been accumulating points using their reward card, so I did some of my shopping for free with those points.
However, I have another bank card that I have been accumulating reward points for years. I used those points to get $400. in cash back to use for gifts.
I also save all of the cash rebate checks that I get from Ebates all year long to spend for Christmas. This year that money will also be used to buy special foods that we enjoy at the holidays.
Besides those forms of payment, I also accumulate Amazon gift certificates all year long by searching through Swagbucks.
The other large expense that we always had at Christmas was buying cards and mailing them. At $.49 each just to mail them, it gets expensive. Last year I purchased cards after Christmas for less than $ 1.00 a box. Over the years, we have whittled our list down to family and some longtime friends. So instead of mailing the 100+ cards that we used to, we now only mail about 25. Back when we were doing 100+ if we had had e-mail, I think I would have seriously considered sending greetings that way.
As soon as my Christmas shopping is done, I will start accumulating again for next Christmas. I don't buy anything unnecessary just to accumulate points. We put everything that we can on our rewards cards all year long to earn those points. We charge groceries, drugstore purchases, restaurant bills, clothing, and gasoline. We also charge any one time bills that we can without paying a fee, like medical bills, insurance bills, or our car registration. If they don't charge us to do it, we charge it. We always pay our credit card bills in full every month. A word of caution, if you can't pay the bills in full each month use cash when purchasing your Christmas gifts.
If you don't have a way to purchase gifts this year for free and you don't have a lot of cash to spend, you can make homemade food products like bread or muffins. You could pair them with homemade jam that you made this summer. We had a rough year back in the 1970's when my husband was hit by a car walking to work from the parking lot. He was out of work while he was recovering for over 6 weeks with no pay. We just didn't have any extra money for Christmas gifts without touching our retirement savings that year so we made some homemade banana bread to give. We did let our family know that we could not afford to exchange gifts that year.
Then we surprised them with the bread.
I have a perfect gift for next year for my adult children that I will be working on every month next year. I can't tell you because it needs to be a surprise to them. Best part is I am hoping to do it for free.
So if you can't do a free Christmas this year, start saving those reward points, free gift certificates that you earn and Ebates cash for next year. Come October 2016, you will be so glad that you did!