Oct 8, 2010

Saving During The Holidays and GIVEAWAY (Merrick)

It is very apparent from your comments on the last two posts that many of you are great at saving during the holidays! We're all very impressed!

There are several things that I do to save money on Christmas.

First, I start early. I don't shop all year long, because I just can't think THAT far in advance. But I usually start around July, making a list of things that my family has mentioned, and then I have six months to wait for those items to go on sale, get a coupon, or find something better. And then all my gifts are done (and sometimes wrapped) before December even arrives. No stress for me.

Second, because I'm a spreadsheet fanatic, I write my list of "Gifts To Give" in an Excel spreadsheet with an "estimated cost" and "actual cost" column. I write down how much I think each item will cost, and then as I buy it I write in how much it actually cost (pennies and everything). This gives me a good idea of how much my total spending for Christmas will be before I even buy anything, and lets me know if I have to cut back on something if the total comes over my set budget. Also, if an item comes in over my estimated cost, I can go through my list of other gifts to cut out anything unnecessary or scour for coupons on bigger ticket gifts so that I stay under budget on my total cost.

Third, I repeat gifts every year. Janssen talked about this yesterday and I think it's a great way to save money. Each year for Christmas I give Philip a photobook of the previous years photos. Because I know that I'm giving it to him each year, I spend all year working on it, waiting for sales, and looking for which photobook site has the best deal. I usually do mine through Shutterfly. I have also signed up for their email list so I get notifications of their sales and always order mine when they're 30% off, have free shipping, or some other good deal.

Today we're giving away Dave Ramsey's DVD: Dumping Debt . Whether you're struggling with credit card debt, trying to pay off your car or house, dealing with student loans, or have no debt and are trying to stay away from it, this DVD is for you. Leave a comment telling us about your favorite gift you've ever given, and we'll announce the winner on Monday, October 11.

Good luck!

26 comments:

Saskia said...

It's something I haven't actually given yet. I came across a poem that has turned into my favorite love poem ever. It doesn't feature very romantic language but to me it speaks of love. So I wrote it on the back of a beautiful card, and I'm giving it to my boyfriend on Monday (which is his birthday).

I hope he likes it.

lacie tidwell said...

ahhh this is tough for me- I LOVE giving gifts- I have way too much fun with it- I found a fantastic print of MAriyln Monroe for my sis and ended up framing it- it was gorgeous and LOOKED very expensive (it wasn't) she LOVED it!

The Liddells said...

My husband has always wanted to get his Private Pilot's license. I always get the Groupon e-mail and one day they had a beginner's flight lesson for more than half off. Normally it would have been about $300 and I got it for $99. He was so excited. The best part about it was he could take someone with him, so I got to ride in the plane while he did everything except the landing. (Yes, he took off and it made me very nervous.)

Kelly said...

I am always struggling with what to give my grandmother. She is one of those people who has "everything she wants", so I always try to give her something really meaningful. One of her favorite places to display artwork is on her refrigerator. The Christmas that I returned from studying abroad, I had so many gorgeous pictures. I found a website that made beautiful photo magnets, and had some magnets made with some of my favorite pictures for her.

Chelsea said...

Merrick,
My favorite gift I have given is a photobook a did for Brandon for our first year together. I totally copied your idea, but I started giving it on our anniversary. It is going to be a fun little tradition-- and a great way to use photos you have taken!

Jaime Wilkins said...

I gave my mom a Shutterfly photo book this year for Mother's day. It was pretty cool!

TheMoncurs said...

There was one Christmas when I was unmarried and had a job and so that was my only Christmas when I could spend as much as I wanted on my family. I know this is like the anti-frugal method and I didn't go completely overboard, but I definitely spent some money that year and got my family members great gifts. My favorite was this ring for my sister with a little bitty diamond in it. I still see her wear it sometimes and it makes me happy.

HillsRus said...

The year my husband and I got engaged I gave him a scrapbook. Well, I typed and printed off pages from my journal of when we first met and from our first kiss and other firsts for us. I put it all together in a scrapbook-like way and gave it to him for Christmas. He loved it!

Christine said...

The best gift I've ever given was to my dad. For Christmas I got him tickets to a basketball game that we both really wanted to see and I went with him.

Stephanie T said...

I really look forward to tricking my kids each year with a fluff present. We will wrap up something to fill up space under the tree. Sometimes it's boxes of their favorite cereal that I rarely buy for them, or a case of mini jellies, something my kids like but are hardly ever treated to. They never know which presents are real ones or the trick ones and it keeps them guessing all of December. I especially love it when they choose the trick present as the first one to open:-)

We also love to do 12 days of Christmas for our family. It's not the real deal, instead we do 12 presents/treats to enjoy together as a family. I love planning that out with my husband and it really brings the Christmas Spirit into our home every evening. The handy thing is that we buy/make 2 of everything and it works out nicely as our present to whoever we have to give to in his family and they LOVE it!

amber waves of grain said...

I gave my now-husband homemade cookies for his birthday soon after we began talking. I was stressed about what to do, didn't have the money for a big gift, and yet, that is still the gift he talks about most! Sometimes it really is the simple things.

Natalie said...

One of my favorite gifts I ever given is a $5 basketball hoop with little basketballs that I gave to my husband. It is supposed to be a little kid's gift, but he loves it and plays with it all the time!!

Nathan and Sharlynn Heinitz said...

I know everyone's mentioning this, but I did some photo books as well. We had to live with our parents for a month each while searching for a job after graduation and once we finally were moved and settled I compiled pictures of our stay with each family into a personalized thank you book. I think it said a lot more than just a simple thank you card for all that they had done for us, and like you, using coupons and waiting for a good shipping time, it didn't cost much either.

Packrat said...

Does a baby girl born on Dec 26 count? Especially since after 9-1/2 years since our first was born, we were pretty sure there weren't going to be any more. (Fooled us!)

Packrat said...

PS: I've enjoyed this last series of posts and all the comments. Everyone has had some great ideas.

Trish said...

I gave my mom really good seats to see Phantom of the Opera for her and a friend. She had always wanted to see Phantom but never had the opportunity. I presented this gift to her at her surprise 70th birthday. She cried!

Heather said...

Last year I found 3 sets of dinosaur Duplo Legos for $27 total (new) that were normally $140. I found them in April and saved them for my 2 year olds birthday in December. It was so much fun to watch him open them. He kept saying "Whoa!" as he opened each one.

Megan said...

Funny you mention photo books. For my dad's 60th birthday this week, I put together a book with a page from each of his children. There were pictures from our first few years of life with Dad, juxtaposed with photos of us with Dad now. Also included, were letters from every child and grandchild. It was one of the best-received gifts I have ever given.

Mary said...

I got my dad tickets to go see one of our favorite musicals together in a broadway touring show. It was great!

Aubrey said...

One of my favorites was an 'I Spy' bag I made for my nephew...mostly because it turned out cute even though I am NOT a seamstress!

Leslie said...

My sister gave me a "journal jar" one year and in it were about 100 strips of questions about my life. Also included was a journal. I spent a couple of years answering each question and embellishing the journal with pictures and memories. After finishing all of the questions, I gave the journal back to her for Christmas. Her whole family loved it because it was a memory of my life so far and had pictures and other neat stuff. I loved giving it to her because it was completely unexpected and loved.

jillian said...

I've given many gifts I've loved, but one of my most favorite is for my first year wedding anniversary, I printed all of the emails my husband I had sent while we were dating and included pictures, random things I'd saved like movie tickets, etc and compiled it into a book. Now we have that momento to look back on to always remember.

Stephanie said...

The favorite gift I've ever given anyone..is a toss up between a scrapbook of the first year I dated my husband--for our anniversary--and to my father--a framed professional photo of our father-daughter dance at my wedding. :)

kris said...

My favorite gift I have given is a Cookbook I made for my three kids for Christmas a few years ago. Each of them got their own copy and it contained recipes from my Mom, my Sister both of whom are gone now; plus it also had favorites from their childhood years. Plus favorite recipes from Aunts, Grandmother and special family friends, all of whom I contacted to ask them to submit their favorite recipe or two for the project. I put in some photos of the different family members and comments or funny stories involving the dishes if any. Also there were some tips about buying certain things on sale, or in bulk etc. I worked on it for some time and everyone was very, very pleased. Of course I made myself one too! Fantastic to have all of our favorite recipes in one place!

The Mrs. said...

For Christmas (following our May wedding) I gave many members of my family a photo book of our wedding day. They loved being able to look back and remember that day. Plus, I had been on the lookout for coupon codes months in advance and was able to order them at a great price!

Chick in the Czech said...

I LOVE the idea of the Excel spreadsheet because I always panic at Christmas and never know what to buy people!!! Off to make one!