The Obligatory Save Money During Christmas Personal Finance Article

“I saw a bunch of nerds with wrestling belts. Who do these dorks think they are? The champions of nothing?”

I was a few drinks in after a wrestling show as I spoke to my girlfriend at the time (2009 to be exact). I was having a laugh over the weirdos that I saw at the show with wrestling belts. For some reason she didn’t find this story to be funny. I was laughing at these guys with belts. Don’t ask me why I was amused by this.

How could she not laugh at these fools who spent hundreds of dollars on belts? Did she not have a sense of humor?

Instead of laughing she began to cry. I was confused. Why would she cry about these belts?

So she walked over to her closet. What was in the closet?

“Here’s your Christmas gift you jackass!”

It was a $200 wrestling belt. Ooops!

Are you ready for the Christmas season?

Chances are that you’re confused while searching for great Christmas gift ideas. I can’t blame you. I only have to buy gifts for four people and I’m still stuck. The good news is that I’m traditionally a crappy gift-buyer (aside from sending my parents to Cuba) and nobody expects much from my gifts.

As lame as I am when it comes to buying gifts, I’m even worse when it comes to accepting gifts. as you could tell.

This is the obligatory post on saving money during Christmas time. Since I’ve written about this topic many times, I’ve included links throughout the article to my favorite pieces on here on the topic of saving money during Christmas without being a Scrooge.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping

I’ve written about saving money during Christmas many times around here before. One of my favorite comments from a reader is:

Roger wrote in with:

“Try to start a Secret Santa program within your family/group of friends/coworkers/any other group where giving may be required. Rather than buying a gift for all twelve of your cousins or for the fifteen people in your office, sway everyone into exchanging names so that you only need to buy one gift for each group. In one step, you’ve cut your shopping list down to a small fraction of what it would be otherwise.

Agree to price limits on Christmas gifts. If you have a price limit for everyone on your list, you can more easily budget, and you’ll have more incentive to keep your spending under control.

Make your own gifts. Probably much more of an option if you happen to be crafty (in a ‘I’m good at making things’ way, not a ‘I’m sneaky’ way), you could always make something as a gift for those on your list. (My fiancée went to a Christmas party for her ceramics club on Saturday, and half of the presents that were given out were hand-made; she got a cup from a girl she admired, and she just loves it.)”

My advice for finding great Christmas gift ideas that don’t break the wallet is…

Set a cap. Then set another cap when you break that limit.

I’m not a fan of daily budgeting, but you need a cap on your gifts!

It’s tempting to get carried away when you’re at the mall. It’s easy to swipe that plastic. The euphoria kicks in and you feel good about yourself. You have something sweet for everyone on your list. Then, it sucks to get that credit card bill in January.

The trick is to set a dollar amount for how much money you’re willing to spend on each person and in total on Christmas gifts.

Then it’s time to look for those gifts…

Start asking questions.

Have you been asking questions? Asking questions is important for finding that perfect Christmas gift because you want to get something for the person that they actually want and not another dust collector that’s going to sit on top of the drawer.

Just remember that the trick to asking question is not to be too obvious about it. Curiosity is the key to finding great Christmas gift ideas.

Oh and one final reminder for Christmas shopping this year…

Buy your gifts before Christmas Eve!

This should go without saying, yet we’re all guilty of buying Christmas gifts at the last minute. I won’t be a hypocrite because I’ve also done this far too many times in the past. I’m telling myself that this won’t happen this year. There’s nothing more annoying and frustrating than being stuck at the mall on Christmas Eve. All of the good gifts are usually gone and the lines are insane.

Since you already know that shopping on Christmas Eve is a poor idea, this is just a friendly reminder. Get those gifts soon!

I doubt that my family reads my blog, but just in case they do, I won’t be revealing yet what I have in mind for them.

That’s how you can save money on those great Christmas gift ideas.

(The post was originally published on December 12/2012. It was updated today in 2014.)

You guys have any cool gifts ideas this year that you would like to share with us?

3 thoughts on “The Obligatory Save Money During Christmas Personal Finance Article”

  1. My family does a gift exchange. Everybody pulls one name out of a hat (literally a hat, we do this during the family reunion in the summer). That kind of thing is a necessity when family get-togethers pass the 2 dozen mark.

      1. My uncle’s house has a “florida room” which he insulated so it stays pretty warm even in the winter. For most of the day, everyone kind of wanders between there, the kitchen, dining room, and living room. For opening presents, everyone crowds into the living room and the kids sit on the floor.

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