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  • Writer's pictureFIRE with a family

Savvy ways to save at Christmas

Christmas is a magical time of year, filled with joy and happiness, family and friends, and the big guy in a red suit bringing smiles to all the kids faces. It can be also be fairly costly, especially if you like to buy gifts for a lot of people.

By the time you buy for mum, dad, nieces & nephews, cousins & friends, your wallet can be left pretty empty. But it doesn't always have to cost a small fortune. Here are a few savvy ways to keep more money in your pocket while still putting smiles on all the faces of the people you love and care about.

1. Secret Santa

Secret Santa is an arrangement in which a group of friends or family exchange Christmas presents anonymously, where each member of the group is assigned another member for whom to provide a small gift, typically costing no more than a set amount.

Organizing your gift buying like this can save you hundreds of dollars as you have a set amount that you are allowed to spend of one person, usually $50 or $100. When it's done anonymously it can be quite a nice surprise come present opening time because you don't know who has drawn your name.

Although technically with Secret Santa you are allocated one person to buy for, if you have a child or children this would not apply to them. You know that they wouldn't be impressed if you bought a gift for one person that wasn't them, so I think it's a good idea to still get those little cherubs something special too!

2. Start shopping earlier in the year

If you've ever visited a big box store like Walmart, Kmart, Target or Big W a few weeks out from Christmas, you'll know how frantic it can be in there. Some folks can even get violent when trying to hunt down the gift they've had there eye on.

If you shop so close to Christmas you can be left scrambling trying to find the gift you were after. Since sales volumes increase at this time of year, it's likely the manufacturers are under a huge amount of pressure to crank out a lot of product, which can sometimes result in a lack of supply. This means that Barbie dreamhouse you've been thinking about since June could be sold out!

A solution to avoiding this kind of situation is to start shopping for Christmas gifts earlier in the year. We've found that writing a list in August and buying gifts from then until December has been pretty effective at keeping our costs in check and keeping stress levels low.

Starting earlier in the year means you can budget certain amounts to spend every few weeks and have you avoid lumping a huge expense on the credit card the week before Christmas because you haven't set aside cash for all the gifts you planned to buy. Entering the holiday season with debt hanging over your head is a situation you should aim to avoid at all costs.

3. Wait for sales

Did someone say Black Friday or Cyber Monday? These events (and the week leading up to them) are full of offers and deals. Black Friday is the day after the American Thanksgiving, on November 27 and Cyber Monday is the Monday after that weekend.

One of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, the weekend from Thanksgiving Thursday through Cyber Monday requires between 530,000 and 590,000 additional workers to cater to the needs of millions of consumers looking for the best deals.

These two events aren't the only times to snag a good deal. Most brick and mortar stores will have sales at the end of each quarter or whenever they have excess stock they need to get rid of to make way for new items. Same goes for the online stores too.

You can take advantage of this by finding what you want to buy and making a note of a few suppliers where you can get it from, and just wait. Yep, just wait. Chances are that one or more of the things you have your eye on will be discounted at some point throughout the year. This strategy works well when you start a few months out from Christmas.

4. Don't buy new

I know, I know, why would I dare say such a thing?! Don't buy new? Just hear me out. I'm not suggesting you opt for the 4 year old tattered item over the the brand new shiny one. I think that could be a bit insulting to receiver.

I'm referring to items that fall under the "gently used" or "excellent condition" categories. People are willing to sell items that are in great condition for a rock bottom price just so they can get rid of them. Think of things like video games, gaming consoles, decorative items, etc. If they're in good condition and still work just fine, you could save a ton of cash and buy these items slightly used rather than brand new.

5. Sell some stuff

While it's technically not "saving" money, selling unused items around your house can be a great way to declutter and make some extra cash at the same time. You could host a yard sale and try to sell everything in one day, or post individual items on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Craigslist or any other selling platform.

The money you make through these sales can go straight towards your Christmas kitty, giving you a little extra cash to spend on those you love during this festive season!

Blake - FIRE with a family

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