Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saving Money On Christmas

Every year we save hundreds of dollars just by taking time to look for coupons before shopping.  We have a good budget for Christmas, but by most standards it's pretty conservative.  Here is our list of people to buy for each year...
  • Little Man
  • Little Miss
  • Chubby Cheekers
  • Chunkey Monkey
  • Mr. Fluffy Pants
  • Rene
  • Lindsay
  • Steven's Dad
  • Steven's Dad's Wife
  • Steven's Dad's Son
  • Steven's Mom
  • My Mom
  • My Mom's Husband
  • My Niece, Jasmine
  • Little Man's Teacher
  • Steven's Admin Assitant
  • Steven's Boss
  • Steven
  • Me
All of these gifts we purchase for less than $650.  It has to be under $650 because we use cash envelopes.  Once the cash is gone, it's gone and we are out of luck.  Therefore, I've had to get really good at making the most of our money.

{Some of the coupons I cut from mailers and ads}

First off, I put the designated amount of money in each envelope, write what we want to get each person, and the max amount I can spend.  I do pick items that I know are reasonable for the budget.  For example, Little Man would like a Wii.  However, his budget is $115.  A Wii just isn't going to happen.  Instead, we guided him into other ideas that would be more appropriate for our budget, yet allowing him to be happy when opening his presents on Christmas morning.  

After dividing up the cash, I begin coupon searching.  When I find coupons, I cut/print them out, and stash them in the envelopes with the cash.  I find these coupons by using Retail Me Not, signing up for email newsletters, looking at coupons sites such as Money Saving Mom, and searching ads in the paper.  Once the coupons are tucked safe and sound, I write on the outside of the envelope what coupons I have so I don't forget to use them.
In addition to coupons, I also use an app called ShopKick.  It allows you to collect 'points' just by walking into stores and browsing through their app booklets.  Inside the booklets, they offer coupons, sales, and deals.  I really love this app.  I have only been using it since October and I have already redeemed my points for almost $10 in Target giftcards.  If you are interested in earning points faster, shoot me your email (wispclips@hotmail(dot)com) and I'll invite you under me (It allows you and me to collect points faster).  On top of ShopKick, I take advantage of rewards programs like ToysRUs'.  

Once I have all of our coupons in order and the cash divided up, Steven and I take one day and get all the shopping done for our kids and family members.  

As an example, here is one of our stops at Target...

Spend $50, get a $10 giftcard
Save $5 when you spend $50
$2 ShopKick giftcard
$5 ShopKick giftcard

What we purchased: (estimates of pricing...too lazy to get the receipt)
Ken Doll $7 (on sale)
Girl's Robe $10 (on sale)
Don't Break the Ice $8 (on sale)
Preschool Farm Uno $8 (on sale)
Brave DVD $17

Total: $50

How We Paid:
I first handed the cashier the coupon for the free $10 gc since I spent $50.
Then I gave the $5 off $50.
Then the ShopKick gc's totaling $7.

This brought our total down to $38, plus I had a $10 giftcard to use on my next transaction.

I immediately used the giftcard on my second transaction to purchase Chubby Cheekers some Robeez type shoes.  They were a little over $10 so I had to pay $4 out of pocket.

After we're finished, I keep all my receipts because if what I purchased goes on sale within a few weeks, I take my receipt in and get a price adjustment.  This usually allows me to get around $20 back each year.

This is just one example of about 10 stops we made on our Big 'Ol Shopping Day.  What was great was not one Christmas item was purchased without a coupon.  I didn't add up our total savings, but my estimate is I saved just as much as we spent.  Man, that feels good!  Plus, we were able to get everything we were shopping for.  Even better.  After all, we want to give good gifts to our family.  We just don't want to go in debt doing it.

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