Planning Ahead (Guest Post)

I know that we all just wrapped up the holidays and the last thing we want is to think about any gift giving in 2010, but you really should. By planning ahead and following these tips, you can really save on those gifts for everyone you want to buy for.

1. Stock pile holiday/birthday items. Just about every store you walk into has items marked down – most as much as 75% off. . You can find most holiday merchandise, winter clothing, housewares and even toys marked down at much as 75% off.

Think ahead of all of the teachers, friends, birthdays, weddings and events you will have this coming year and pick some things up. Nothing says you have to wait until November to start your holiday shopping.

2. Work on Your Family’s Winter 2010 Wardrobe. If you can, determine what size your child may be wearing next winter. I have picked up full winter coat sets (coat, mittens, pants) for less than $10.00 by doing this!

I will say that for me though, clothing items must be marked down at least 75% off for me to consider it a great deal. So, if it is only 60%, I normally walk away and will come back a week later. In doing this, I have to follow the mantra of “if it is meant to be, it will still be waiting for me in a week.” Sometimes I am lucky, but other times, I’m not. And that’s OK by me.

3. Don’t Fall Into the “It’s On Sale” Trap. Just because something is marked down doesn’t mean you have to buy it. If you find a candy dish that is marked down to $1.50 doesn’t mean you need it because it is marked down. If you can’t use it for a gift idea or for yourself, then purchasing it is actually wasting $1.50.

4. Start Saving. What my husband and I do is take last year’s spending and add 10% to it. Then, we add in our set budget amount for birthdays and anniversaries and then divide that total amount by 12. This tells us how much we need to save every month to fund all of these events. This way, it doesn’t creep up on us. It also is great to have the money available if I happen to find that “must have” item on sale earlier in the year.

Not only do we set our budget, we stop spending our change. Since our family operates on mostly cash we always have change. I never give that away when I pay. If my total is $10.04, I hand over $11.00 and then put $0.96 into savings. You would be amazed at how much you can save — for us it was well over $200.00 this past year!

5. Work on Your Wish List. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even count the number of times I get asked “What do you want for your birthday/Christmas?” every single year. And of course, my response is always, “I don’t know, I have to think about it.”

I actually created a gift list in a Word document. Every time I see something my children need or my husband casually mentions “I’d love an ABC sometime”, I jot it down. I do the same for myself when I am doing things around the house. For us, this has been so helpful because we can get those gifts that we may have mentioned 6 months earlier and it is that much more of a surprise for the receiver! Plus, for my husband, it earns him bonus points, and what hubby doesn’t want a few more of those?

Hopefully, these 5 tips can help you make your 2010 gift giving a little less tough on the wallet, less stressful for you and just all around a much more enjoyable experience!

Tracie has worked hard to eliminate over $35,000 in debt in only 27 short months.  In her “spare” time, she takes care of 3 small children and blogs for KC Parent Magazine.  She shares her deals, tips and ways to save money at KC Penny Pinchin’ Mama.

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