Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas, all!

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I know the 25th is over, but that's actually the first day of Christmas. You know, where you just get a partridge in a pear tree. The twelveth day of Christmas is Tristan's birthday - January 5th. (He was a great present. Way better than twelve lords a-leaping). So Christmas is still going - make the most of it!  :) I hope it's been wonderful for you so far.

But since the rest of the world doesn't recognize the twelve days, and the retail discounts have begun, now is the time to start planning for next year. You can get a lot of very cheap wrapping paper now, and Scotch tape has uses throughout the year - it's a good idea to get it now while it's marked down.

I see a lot of blogs advising people to get those "generic" gifts, like boxed bath salts and scented candles, now that they're on post-Christmas sale. I think that's a great idea, but I want to add something to that. When you're buying these gifts, get a small notebook (or pull one from the back-to-school stockpile you amassed when they were a dime each). Write down a description of the items you bought, and where you hid them. Then stick the notebook in your underwear drawer so it doesn't get lost. When next Christmas comes, you might have an awesome memory and know exactly what you have and where - my brain power is usually sapped by trying to keep up with all the events and appointments, so I need a record of the little goodies we have lying around.

If money was tight this year and you want to avoid the tension and scrabble-feel next year, I have some great ideas for you. Do you have direct deposit? Some banks and credit unions will set up an automatic transfer between your checking and savings in any amount you choose. If you can spare $2 a week, you'll have an extra $100 in your Christmas budget by the end of the year. I know sometimes every dollar is needed, but $2 is usually an achievable goal for a week. If you get paid biweekly, $4 - $5 is a good number to set aside. If the money is in an account you don't use much, and the money is deposited without your needing to fuss with it, you don't have to use as much discipline to save for a goal. The downside is that it distances you from the joy of hitting your goal - of taking your money, putting a few extra bucks on top of it, and adding it to your savings and watching the total rise.

Another great way to save painlessly is to rack up Swagbucks points. If you don't have an account yet, please click through and join. I'll wait.

You can easily get a $5 Amazon gift card twice a month if you use Swagbucks for your searches, do an occasional survey, answer the daily poll, and watch their TV clips (you can put your computer on mute if you don't want to REALLY watch). Each of those tasks earns you Swagbucks - as you accumulate more 'bucks, you can earn different gift cards. There are other store cards available - usually a $5 card is 500 Swagbucks - but the $5 Amazon card is 450 Swagbucks. If you earn 2 cards a month, that's another $110 - $120 for Christmas next year!

What if you do BOTH? 

Yeah. Think about that.

And what if you take $30 now to get your wrapping paper, tape, and 2 or 3 "generic" gifts marked down by 70% to hide away? (You could probably get more gifts than that for $30.)

(By the way, the savings tips work for saving toward any event - birthdays, the birth of a baby, a new bike to ride in a Peloton.... it doesn't have to be for Christmas, if you don't celebrate it.)


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