If you really want Christmas 2012 to be awesome you really MUST start to think about things now! If you meet any of the following criteria you can just skip this post: never decorate, spend money, give presents, travel, or in any way do something to celebrate the special day and season. Ok, so you see that everyone really needs to read on. In the coming months we plan to share tons of tips and ideas to make planning and prepping for the holidays easier, more affordable, and hopefully fun!
Today I want to start our discussions on saving money (as well as time and sanity) as part of your Christmas plans. Remember this is just the introduction to these three ideas, we have so much more to come. Here are three areas to take action to make your Christmas 2012 more frugal and financially wise.
Number 1- SAVE UP! That’s right, save your money. Plan ahead. Save now. Most of us have probably spent at least some time since Christmas 2011 opening bills and figuring out how to pay for the things we bought or did as part of the celebrations. Too much of the time after the holidays is spent paying for the holidays. Too often, especially at Christmas, we are guided by the “spend now and pay later” model of action. Make 2012 the year that you shift that thinking to “save now, spend later”. There are many ways to do just that. To be able to save money you must have some type of plan. You have to have an idea of how much money you will need to save. It is simple to create a budget for Christmas 2012. Take time in the next couple days to total what you spent in 2011. This will give you a dollar amount for your saving plan. (Some of you might for the first time discover just how much you really spend!) Think of finding this budget amount as your homework assignment:) Look for information in my next post a variety of online savings account options to create your own modern Christmas savings account.
Number 2- BUY NOW! Another way to not be burdened with huge bills at the end of the year is to make purchases throughout the year. There are so many ways to shop early and we will be going into many of them in-depth in the coming weeks and months. Just to give you a little taste here are a few ideas. Shop sales on frames and photo albums in clearance at major department stores. Check out yard sales and garage sales in the spring and summer to find great and inexpensive items. After Valentine’s Day check out the discount sales and buy all kinds of red things to keep for use at Christmas. Do the same after St. Patrick’s Day. Having ideas of gifts for family and friends in mind can save you much money and stress. Coming later in January we’ll share our tips for tracking your gift ideas and projects in 2012.
Number 3- MAKE IT! We have all had that moment, usually around December 21st, where we wish we had found or started some great homemade present or craft idea earlier. Something that our friends and family would have loved but there just isn’t time to do it now. 2012 is the year to end that tradition. Learn that new craft now! Start that project in February! Practice baking the new cookie recipe for a friends Super Bowl party. Both Natalie and I have hinted at some of the new things we will be starting early in the year to be set for Christmas. Natalie has already mentioned her cookies and I am working on improving my candy making. Another new idea I have for 2012 is to spend some time with my nieces and nephew building or making something that later will become a gift. For example, at the 2011 after Christmas sales I bought a really cool unfinished wooden advent box in the shape of a tree. I plan to paint it and decorate it this winter and then fill it with little items or remembrances from the kids for the year. Won’t my sister be surprised as she opens the little drawers in December and finds treasures from the kids back in February? More tips and ideas coming all year long.