Gifts for kids are unarguably one of the biggest expenses each holiday season.
And especially for those of you who are like me and have the “love language” of gift-giving. If I see something that I know that someone I love wants, it is SO HARD for me to resist buying it for them. And I love my kiddos. A lot.
So I really have to be careful with what I spend during the holidays on them… and THANKFULLY I have my financial-whiz husband who totally keeps up with our budget each month!
So what do you do about kid gifts? How can you still give them things they will love and not have to take out a second mortgage?
Here are a few ideas that I hope are helpful for all of us:
1. Stick to a well-defined budget. I’ve created a super simple holiday budgeting spreadsheet to help you do this! Just open up the spreadsheet, click on “File” then “Make A Copy” to be able to edit it.
First, figure out exactly how much you can spend TOTAL on gifts.
Then, write down the name of each person you need to buy for, and how much of that budget can go towards each of them. When you are done, the number in “How much room you have left in your budget” should be $0.
As you buy presents, put down what you bought in the correct spaces, and then put how much you paid for it. Everything will add up and you’ll see if you went over budget, met your budget, or were UNDER budget (which would be awesome!)
It’s truly amazing how quickly buying gifts here and there add up, so if we can see exactly where the money is being spent, it really helps.
2. Watch the deal sites (like Surviving The Stores) THROUGHOUT the year! Don’t wait until a few weeks before Christmas to purchase! Keep your eyes open for awesome deals throughout the year and grab things when the prices are low. I see deals like the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals all throughout the year (although not ALL AT ONE TIME like on BF & CM) and I post about the best ones here on STS! Be sure to subscribe for email updates and follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with what’s going on in the deal world!
Just remember to write everything you buy down because it’s super easy to forget what you have already purchased and how much you have spent.
3. When buying for your own kids, let them know their budget so that they understand how much things cost and can really weigh their decisions based off of prices (definitely a valuable lesson to learn!) Obviously, this wouldn’t work for younger children, but it’s much easier to stay frugal with younger children (in my experience), than with older children.
So let’s say that your budget for each child is $100. Each child can write down as many gifts on their wish list that they want, as long as it adds up to $100. They can either choose that 1 American Girl doll that they want, or a few less expensive presents.
I would also recommend giving them a budget that is LESS than what your “real” budget is so that you are able to find some fun surprises that you know they will love.
4. Pare down your gift-giving. One of the pins I’ve been seeing going around Pinterest is this one:
I LOVE this idea!! Basically how it works is that each child gets something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read!
Such a great way to keep things focused away from just “what am *I* getting”.
5. Focus on reaching out. One of the things that we love to do with our kids each year is pick out a gift to give to a family in need from the Gospel For Asia gift catalogue. You can give rabbits, oxen, water wells, all kinds of things! The kids have a blast figuring out what to give and they see that the holidays aren’t just about what THEY can get.
6. Utilize garage sales. Whether it’s HAVING a garage sale with old toys to pay for new toys, or GOING to garage sales to look for toys, garage sales are BIG helps in saving money on kid gifts during the holidays! We’ve found lots of great items at garage sales that just needed a little TLC… and even some brand new in-the-box items that we were able to regift! Don’t forget about the consignment shops like Once Upon A Child and the Just Between Friends sales too!
7. Shop clearance throughout the year. Especially the Target 75% off Toy Clearance that comes around each January and July! This is where I get about 90% of the presents for my younger kids, and usually end up spending around $50 TOTAL for $200 worth of gifts! Toys and clothes go on clearance all the time, ESPECIALLY after the holidays, so consider leaving some room in your budget this year to grab things for NEXT year!
8. Check the pawn shops and Craigslist. These are great money-savers for budgeting for the older kids who likely have more expensive tastes (like drum sets, XBOXes, and cameras). And, contrary to the stigma, pawn shops are NOT just places that have stolen items (actually, that’s likely more common on Craigslist now). Pawn shops make sure that an item hasn’t been reported stolen before putting it out to sell.
What about you? What are your best tips for saving money on kids gifts?