Showing posts with label Debt Free Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Debt Free Christmas. Show all posts

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Why you NEED to join Swagbucks

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  It contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

I don't really remember how I first heard about Swagbucks.  I've been a member for about ten years, and I use it as my main search engine.  You could call that loyalty, I call it being a smart consumer.

The search engine is just as good as the big guys -- plus it even has a safe search mode so you wont' get unwanted items in your feed.

But the main reason I use it is for the SB. They can be redeemed for a number of things.  I usually choose Amazon gift cards, and I have gotten a Kindle with them back when Kindles were really expensive, paid for some of the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding with SB, and used some of my earnings for everyday purchases like Nepro when my mother was on dialysis.

So, Swagbucks can help you reduce expenses by allowing you to get free diapers, groceries, or even Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Christmas Without Debt: February Edition - Stationary

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Welcome to my monthly series on how we can plan to have a Christmas without debt.  Not having debt eases stress and anxiety, which means we will appreciate the holiday more and be able to enjoy the extra time with loved ones without worrying about the bills that will come due in December.

As I mentioned in my December Christmas without Debt post,  you should know how much you should set back each month based on your spending last Christmas.    You should plan on either spending that whole monthly amount through the year -- or setting it back for use at Christmastime -- or a combination of the two.

This month we are going to focus on cards and greetings.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Christmas Without Debt: January Clearance Sales

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Hopefully you made a tally last month of everything you will need for next Christmas.  January is the time to buy those items!  This is the month that many things go on clearance, sometimes as low as 90 percent off -- or even 25 cents an item.  Usually gift wrap can't be bought at this super low price, so I recommend that being bought right after Christmas and not waiting and watching sale prices so you can have the best selection.

This week, I stopped in at Target where all Christmas items were 90% off.  There wasn't much left, as I was a few days into the sale.

However, I stopped at Dollar General on Tuesday to buy something and saw their Christmas items were 25 cents each.  I ended up going to twelve Dollar Generals over the next few days.  I got Christmas cards as low as 30 for 25 cents.  The most expensive retail priced item was a huge package of decorations that was originally priced $18, and I paid a quarter for it.  I loaded up on all kinds of items -- some will go on eBay, some will be made into gift baskets for local schools' fundraising purposes, and some I will use.  There were adult coloring books, children's t-shirts, tablecloths, canned pumpkin, cookie mixes, plaques, lip balm, playing cards, wax scents, hand washing soap, air freshener, and much, much more.

Friday, December 30, 2016

After Christmas Planning : Christmas WIthout Debt Series

Christmas is over for another year, but it's time to start planning for next Christmas if you want to be able to put together a debt free holiday a year from now.

Very first thing to do is take stock of what you used this year.  How much gift wrap.  How many cards.  How much did your grocery bill go up because of special foods or baking?  How much did you spend on new clothes for holiday get togethers, gifts, and anything else related to the holidays.  Figure this amount out.  Be prepared for shock because in 2016, the average family spent nearly $1,000 on gifts alone.  (And for this exercise you will be figuring in any other expenses related to the holidays, including airline tickets home, etc.)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Preparing for Black Friday And Cyber Monday: Christmas without debt

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links, all opinions are my own.

If you have been following the Christmas without debt series, you should have some money saved up this month for buying the things you want to purchase for others as gifts.  But hold on, let's save money money while we're spending, don't you think?

First off, have a list of everything you want to buy.  Check prices NOW, before Black Friday and Cyber Monday and jot down prices at three stores.  So now you know what price you want to beat.  Sometimes the sales over Thanksgiving weekend aren't the best deals out there and that's not what we want.  We want to save money.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Debt Free Christmas: September Challenge Homemade Gifts

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The goal of this series is to arrive at Christmas without debt.  Christmas isn't an emergency, and it's something we can plan for, and planning takes preparation and time.  This month I'm going to focus on homemade gifts.

For some crafts it's a little late to be starting on a project now.  (Think of an intricate cross stitched Christmas stocking.)  But there's still time to make an afghan or sweater for someone.  Also, included in this month is planning the baked goods you will be giving as gifts.

First, think about what talents you have.  You used to knit but haven't picked up those needles in years?  Now is the perfect time to do so.  There are plenty of free patterns on the Internet or you could buy one off of eBay or from etsy at your skill level.  Are you a skilled woodworker but your family has never received any of your gifts?  Maybe you should think about giving everyone -- or even one person a gift you created with your own hands.  My mother didn't have much talent in handicrafts, but she was a skilled writer, and she often wrote a new book or story each year for family.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Christmas Without Debt -- August Challenge

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Christmas always seems to be a time when people struggle.  Either there isn't enough time or money -- or both -- to go around.  This series is an attempt to get control over that so that when Christmas (or the holidays if you celebrate something else) arrives you will be able to look at it, and say, "I'm ready,"  then you can sit back and enjoy all the festivities without the stress of last minute preparations.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Why Buying Gift Cards to Save For Christmas is a BAD Idea

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I have seen it mentioned on social media that you should buy a gift card each month to help with Christmas spending for next year.  This is NOT a good idea, no matter how many people think it is.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  You will be limited at what stores where you can do your shopping.  What if you find a great deal at Walmart but stocked up on Amazon gift cards?  You'll be out of luck.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why It's Not Worth Going Into Debt for the Holidays

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When I was growing up, we had a LARGE tree, and the underneath was filled with TONS of packages.

We all got gifts -- cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents -- and multiple gifts from each person.  It was total chaos of bows, ribbons, wrapping paper, and Under Roos.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A debt Free Christmas -- February

This post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small amount when you start your purchase here.  Thank you for beginning your shopping here at Books, Bargains, Blessings.

Christmas is ten months away.   Why think about it in February?  Right?  WRONG!  If you want to have a debt free Christmas then the best way to do so is think about it every year.  This is the second in my series of having a debt free Christmas.

This month, let's make some lists.  Make a list of all the people you want to send Christmas cards to.   This next month, plan on getting the cards and stamps.  It's sometimes cheaper to buy your own Christmas cards and add a photo inside.  Check out the fantastic prices of these cards at Family Christian.   They even have some as low as 16 for $1.  So if you haven't purchased Christmas cards yet, figure out how many you need and purchase them now!  You certainly won't find deals like this in November or December.

Also, plan for stamps.  Did you know you can order holiday stamps at any time of the year through the site?  So order your Christmas cards and order your stamps.  That way you will have them come Christmas.

If you don't send cards, then just set the money you would have spent on cards back for expenses as they come up IN ADDITION to what you are already saving for gifts.  If you aren't sure how much that would be, just set back $50.  Put it in a "Christmas" envelope because you'll be spending it before a bank Christmas club account would come due.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A shopping trip that cost me nothing!

Yesterday, I stopped at a store a little out of my area.  I had won $45 in gift cards and had been waiting until I could stop at a store of this chain to use them.  I was disappointed at how many items I picked up off the shelf that were already past their best by date, and that prevented me from getting some stuff I was hoping to get, but here is how my shopping trip played out.

Using sales and coupons, I saved $13.  Using my gift cards I won that took my total to zero.  Then I made a point of purchasing items where I would receive $8 back in a mail in refund.  So, technically I made money on this shopping trip.

I have a Facebook friend who says I paid $44 for it all because I used gift cards, but since I got the gift cards for free, I don't consider that I paid for it.  It's a store I would not have gone to if I had not had the gift cards.

A nice shopping trip for certain.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Debt Free Christmas, 11 months to go.

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for starting your shopping here as I receive a small amount when you purchase through these links at no additional cost to you.

It's less than 11 months until Christmas!   Are you ready?   I don't mean fully ready, but last night my boyfriend and I finished the book  The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

In it, he says Christmas is not an emergency and not to dip into your emergency fund for it since you know it's coming.

What have I done so far this year in preparing to get ready for Christmas?   Well, I hit a 90% off sale right after Christmas.  I bought a few items for gifts.  Some things I will sell on eBay come Christmas time, as well as Christmas gift wrap and ribbons and bows.

Now is also the time to go ahead and start entering blog giveaways in hopes of winning some stocking stuffers and gifts throughout the year.  Here is a list of blog giveaway linkups.  If you are a blogger, it's a great resource to list your giveaway.  If you want to enter, it's a great list of places where you can find giveaways to enter.

Also, how much did you spend last year?  Take that number and divide it by 12.  Put back 1/12 of your Christmas money now.  

If you are the creative type, you might want to start planning now about what gifts you can make.  I am a cross stitcher and a nice piece can take a couple months to finish.

Christmas isn't a surprise, and it shouldn't cause debt.  If you start planning now, it won't!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Debt the Halls

While watching TV tonight I saw the average family will spend almost $700 on Christmas this year. Personally I can't imagine. Of course, I save prizes from sweepstakes and contests through the year. I also keep an eye open at garage sales for items that would make great gifts. Sometimes you can find things that are brand new, or other times you can find things that are no longer sold that would fit in great in a collection. (My aunt is getting a few garage sale items including hand-forged alumimum, which she collects, as well as a signed, numbered, framed print of a local landmark. She will love all of these.)

When I was growing up my grandmother used to give "Care Packages" to Mom and my aunt. She'd get two boxes and put in her spare bedroom. When there was something buy one get one free, she'd buy it, and one item would go into each box. My mom and my aunt used to roll their eyes at these gifts, but after Grandma went into the nursing home, they each said how much they missed them.

So I've found that "Care Packages" are often welcome Christmas gifts, especially to people who are struggling financially. I've given a number over the years, and because I can get groceries very cheap sometimes, I can give much more value wise than if I were to go and buy something retail for my family. Not everyone appriciates these, so they aren't a gift I would give just anyone. College kids really love these. Teenagers in high school? Not so much -- with the exception of teen girls and a huge basket of make-up.

One year I watched sales, and I was able to get almost $1000 of gifts for about $50 - $100. These were good gifts, too. Things like photo books with family photos, etc.

I try to buy gifts as cheap as possible, but only if it's something that the recipient would like. I don't want to be like the lady I once saw on TV that when she went to a dinner party instead of a bottle of wine, she would take Pine-Sol becase she got it free. Even when working with not a lot of money, gifts need to be something that will be appriciated!

But I don't understand why people go into debt at the holidays. I was reading entries at a contest recently and a number said they couldn't afford for their children to "have a Christmas". Since when is money a requirement of "having Christmas"? Yes, I realize people want to give stuff to their children and people they love, but I do hate the phrases as "We can't give them Christmas" or "They won't have a Christmas." Christmas is a date on the calendar, and it's going to happen to everyone gifts or not. It's like that old joke, "Do other countries have a 4th of July?" and you expect the other person to say, "Of course not, silly, that's an American holiday," and then you reply, "Oh, so does their calendar go from July 3rd to July 5th?"

It seems that Christmas has lost not only its original focus but also it's secondary focus of family and friends and love and has become an all out buying session seeing who can get the most gifts. Some of my favorite memories include friends and gag gift exchanges at the holidays. Or how my best friend and I used to make mix tapes in the 1980s as our Christmas gifts. Very little money invested. Or the time that my best friend and I decided to make Christmas cookies. We decided to get creative and still laugh about the batch we made with Cocoa Wheats. (Don't try it!) or how we loved our peanutbutter and jelly cookies. Memories with family and friends. That's the most valuable part of Christmas.

I don't remember a thing I got one Christmas when I was little, but I remember staying up late when I was about eight years old putting together a puzzle with my dad that he got for Christmas. We were watching "Miracle on 34th Street", and what I would give to have another few minutes with my Dad. That is actually one of my favorite memories of Dad, and certainly not something that could be bought. Sure the puzzle was a Christmas gift, but it was the putting it together with him that made it special.

Personally, this year, I'm hoping for little STUFF. I'm decluttering and I can't tell you how many 30 gallon trash bags of stuff I've gotten out of the house. Not to mention the stuff we've given away or have set back for a garage sale. We don't have the room for stuff. I want junk out of the house. We don't have room for knick-knacks, etc.

My mother asked me today what I want for Christmas.

Sure I'd like a laptop and and iPod. (My current mp3 player is about 6 years old and I can no longer add anything to it because the software is no longer supported.) Other than that, I can't think of anything "stuff" wise I'd like.   Of course, those aren't in the budget, if I ever get new ones, I'll have to win them.  Well, I do need a new pair of shoes, but because of my big feet, I have to buy those myself. The pair I'm currently wearing I won in 2006 and since I don't have winter boots (not a good thing when we got about 10 feet of snow in February!), they are what I wear year-round.

I read once that people who desire experiences over things are happier people. Most of what I want is experiences. I want to return to Israel. I want to see a weekend show of a friend who's a professional magician. I want to go to Ohio and visit some friends whom I haven't seen in years. We became friends at church camp when we were in high school. I want to go on a weekend retreat with my church.

Of course, these things can't be gift wrapped and placed under the tree. Instead, I'm hoping for things that will help out with regular household expenses and allow me to put a little money back (if possible) to these things.

Obviously, with the problem with the bathroom, there's little extra money, so whatever I might receive will likely go towards paying off what we had to put on credit cards because of the bathroom.

I am still in the voting contest at and I'm asking for everyone to vote. If I win that, that will help a lot with paying off expenses. It will allow me to get my mother a recliner for Christmas (and she needs one for medical reasons). If I win, it would be a huge blessing. So if you could vote daily through Tuesday, it would be much appriciated. (My photo is the one of the guinea pigs with the fire truck.) Thank you.
Please don't go into debt for Christmas. You don't know what is around the corner. We had no idea that we'd have $1400 of bathroom expenses a couple weeks ago. What if you were to put $800 of Christmas gifts on your credit cards and find out you needed $1400 of work on your bathroom the next day? Please spend wisely, as generously as possible, but not going into debt.