This year, we decided to come up with a spending strategy for the holidays. So far, we have had one hiccup in our planning......we should've planned to have all holiday funds available by Black Friday. I will admit, my planning assumed that we would not need any holiday spending money until December. This left us without a spending plan when we found great deals during Black Friday. We ended up spending our own "fun" money and unaccounted for joint money. No bueno!
Aside from the one misstep above, I do believe our holiday shopping plan will run smoothly for the remainder of the year.
Rule #1: No going into debt for gifts. If we don't have the cash saved, we don't buy. Period.
Now, I present to you "My 7-Step Holiday Spending Strategy."
STEP 1: Make a budget and savings plan
We decided on a $500 budget and started a SmartyPig account to save the $500 over time. The savings goal was started in October. Next year, we will start planning a little earlier.
* Please note that this $500 budget does not include what my husband and I will spend on each other's gifts. Our gifts to one another does not come out of our joint banking account, but rather is purchased with our own "fun" money that we receive bi-monthly.
STEP 2: Finalize your holiday list and categorize/prioritize
We created a list of everyone we wanted to buy gifts for and assigned each person a maximum dollar amount that we would be willing to spend. We discussed possible gifts for each person. For the record, we set Selah's (our daughter) budget at $100. We also set our budget for holiday cards at $100. This leaves about $300 for others.
STEP 3: Redeem points in the form of gift cards (credit card, Ebates, uPromise)
I went to all of my online credit card accounts and rebate accounts to redeem any rewards or money that I had accrued over the past year. I was able to redeem a $25 Gap gift card with my Citi Thank You points, which were accrued over the past year for using my various Citibank accounts. Gift cards and money redemptions can be used in addition to the $500 we budgeted.
STEP 4: Strategically place money in Smarty Pig account
At the point when we made our budget in October, we started a SmartyPig savings goal and immediately funded the first $100 into that account. The plan was to put additional money in on a regular basis, but we got an old tax refund in the mail, which allowed us to not have the burden of having to save money out of our regular monthly payroll.
STEP 5: Redeem SmartyPig money in the form of transferred cash and strategically selected gift cards
This is the step I am at now. Unfortunately, I didn't think to redeem the money in our SmartyPig account in time for Black Friday, so we ended up having to spend our own cash or use the joint account when we found great deals during Black Friday. I intend to redeem the money we have saved by the end of next week.
STEP 6: Purchase gifts through websites during sale cycles through websites like eBates or UPromise....using gift cards obtained at a discount through SmartyPig.....while purchasing in-store at locations that provide better deals in-person.
Side Note: I just found out about a website called "Shopathome.com" that provides similar cash rebates to eBates and UPromise. Before I purchase anything online, I check all three websites to determine who offers the largest rebate.
SmartyPig allows you to redeem all or portions of your saved fund in the form of discounted gift cards.
STEP 7: Purchase gifts on my credit card that can not be purchased through the gift cards available through SmartyPig and other discount card sites/venues (Card to be paid off in Full)
Let me know in the comments if you have developed a holiday spending plan/strategy for your family. How did that turn out? Do you use credit cards for holiday shopping or do you only use cash and debit?
Sign up for Ebates here.
Sign up for SmartyPig here. Mention my referral code: B9F6E44T
Sign up for UPromise here.