Smart Spending

Make it a Game to Find Ways to Save Money on your Holiday Budget

Ever wonder why people go to the trouble of collecting coupons to buy 12 years worth of laundry detergent for $10 on TLC’s Extreme Couponing?  If you’re not familiar with the program, then you haven’t seen the real pleasure the couponers get from gaming the system, even if they end up with a stock room full of stuff they may never use.  It just goes to show: saving money can be fun!

Depending on your particular talents and interests, finding ways to save money on your holiday budget may include making your own presents, scanning the internet for the best deals, cooking the best money-saving recipes or crafting your own decorations.

Consider a “movie pack” consisting of a classic movie (cheaper than the new), snacks like microwave popcorn and a bottle of a favorite soda all in a basket from a second hand store.  You could also give a “survival” package for college students or a “travel pack” for travelers made of free samples and small portions you’ve either bought or made using inexpensive spill proof containers.  Another idea is to hand stamp or decorate a package of index cards with your favorite recipes tied with a ribbon to an inexpensive kitchen gadget.

Better at doing things with your hands? Here are some other ideas to maintain your holiday budget. Find an old classic red wagon, bike or nightstand and spend a little elbow grease sanding and painting.  Make a shabby chic wind chime using old silverware or dinnerware.  Refurbish the insides of an old dollhouse with wallpaper and rug samples.  Make a calendar, stationery or all occasion cards on your computer for the non-technical person on your list.  Scan the internet for other gift making ideas that are more your style.

Even if you are not “crafty,” just about anyone can put together mixes of their favorite recipes layered like a sand painting in a mason or decorative jar topped with a cute “hat” or bow.  A mix of Epsom salts and the oil of a favorite essence put together in a “spa” package like those sold in stores at a high price is another welcome inexpensive gift.

Don’t have the time or inclination to make it yourself?  Everyone has a friend that’s good at this who may need something you can provide: washing and detailing their car or setting up a web page for their business.  Consider trading out gift certificates or services from a friend who owns a business in exchange for doing their taxes, minding their store or picking up their child at daycare for a certain period of time.  Everyone has a car that needs its oil changed.  You could even give guitar lessons.

How many on your list would rather get a hand drawn picture from your child instead of an expensive, taken in August picture of your family and a canned message?  Send letters or postage saving postcards made from the fronts of the cards you received last year. Making it a project for the kids to get them involved.

Brainstorm for more creative ways to save money and gain the satisfaction of knowing you beat the system by saving money on your holiday budget this year!