On Sunday we’re heading off for to Disneyland Paris for a few days. I didn’t mean for it to be this close to our WDW trip but these things happen and Halloween actually looks pretty good in DLP. Anyway, when we come back we’ll be over half way through October, and closing on our second to last payday before Christmas. This time of year I think it’s more than okay to start talking about the festive season, which is without a doubt my favourite time of year.
Since becoming a mother I have become so much more organised when it comes to Christmas. In the past I’d wander around the shops until I felt inspired by a gift for someone. Now I have spreadsheets and lists and I spend ages pouring over the catalogues to get a good idea what to get. Today I thought i’d share the ways I like to get ready for the big task of Christmas shopping on a low budget.
1. Make Lists
I cannot emphasis this point enough. I no longer just buy and buy, I have a set list and know exactly what I’m getting everyone, where from and when… It gives me time to look for discount codes or wait for pre-christmas sales. Items I want from the States or Amazon, I wait until Black Friday when I know there will be a sale. Sticking to my list also helps me stick to my budget, or even make savings. It also means I can keep an eye on stock levels because I’m not umming and ahhing over what to get.
2. Shop Around
This goes along with the making lists. At the time I’m making my lists I sit down and browse for the best deals. Of course, I keep this list updated as places like Amazon regularly fluctuate in price. I also check eBay right before I make a purchase as again, new items are listed every day.
3. Grab Cashback Wherever Possible
Last year my friend Hayley introduced me to this concept. You make a purchase through a cashback website, paying the price stated, then the retailer then pays the cashback website commission and that’s given back to you. The more expensive the purchase, the better the cashback offered, but I have got some on little things like books, dvds and toys.
4. Be Prepared to Buy Second Hand.
I know this sounds like a weird one.. but LM honestly doesn’t know the difference between second hand and brand new. I’m a member of many selling groups from local to Disney only and I’ve picked up some fab bargains over the last month or so to put away for Christmas. As long as it’s in a good condition, LM really doesn’t know and it’s a great way to give a toy a new life rather than it being binned. I sell a lot of LM’s old toys too and it makes me feel happy knowing it’s going to someone else.
5. Have a Budget Ready
My most important tip is to have a budget ready. I want to try and go back to Florida a few times next year and although we have places to crash, I still have park passes and flights to fund. I’m sticking exactly to what LM asks for this year, along with the usual pjs, some new clothes and a few other essentials. I know I’ll feel guilty on Christmas morning when she doesn’t have as much as the past three years.. but in the long run, I know she’d rather be a Disney with her friends as much as possible. Believe me, I have watched her on Christmas morning and playing in Magic Kingdom and I know which one makes her happier.
I’m by no means flushed with cash, I just budget well and spread the cost. In the past I’ve used catalogue credit accounts so I can spread the cost over the year and it’s worked well for me as a single mum. No doubt I’ll still pop the odd thing onto one of them this year. I think it’s a great way to ensure you get what you without getting yourself stressed over finding the money for it. Typically catalogues have a lower interest rate and a lot have buy now pay next year offers too. I’d definitely say that my first few Christmases as a single mum, these were my best friend.