If your kids are like mine, their Christmas list for this year started pretty much right after Christmas last year (okay, maybe a week or so after) and the excitement for the big day is starting to build with every Christmas carol they hear (already!) and decoration they see going up. And if you’re like me, you the joy of the season can sometimes get overshadowed at the thought of the costs that always seem to add up to the big day. To help keep the stress off both you and your credit card, I’ve put together my top 5 tips for helping keep the costs down while holiday shopping for toys and presents for your kids this season.
- COUPONS! – So many toys sites are offering some excellent high value coupons on some of this season’s most popular toys. Sites like Websaver, Toys R Us, Michaels and Mattel are your best bets. Also be sure and check store (small and big) plus brand Facebook pages. Lots will post “Fan Coupons”. If you’re shopping online sign up for your favorite shop’s newsletter and you’ll often be rewarded with money saving coupon codes. And search sites like Mother of a Deal (shameless plug) and Retail Me Not for coupon codes.
- PRICE MATCH – Know your prices before you hit the stores and be sure to price match. Most of the big box stores offer price matching with their competitors. And even smaller stores will too if their competitors are offering for less. We called around a few of the city’s bike shops looking for a rider-glider bike, found the best price and then asked our local store if they’d be able to match it. They were more than happy to do it, saved us money and gas going half way across the city for the cheaper one.
- CASH BACK SHOPPING – If you haven’t discovered ebates, this is a great place to start “earning” as you shop online. You just sign up and as you purchase online from your favourite stores you will earn cash back.
- USE YOUR REWARD POINTS – Movie tickets, toys, electronics … it’s amazing what you may have enough points for with one of your reward card programs. Air Miles, Save-On-More, Pampers Gifts-to-Grow, Swagbucks and your reward accumulating credit card if you have one are all great places to check.
- BUY GENTLY USED – Before you gasp with disgust, think about it. Little kids have no concept of new or used and there is so much available out there that is gently used and substantially cheaper that your kids will enjoy just as much as if it came in a shiny big box (that then takes hours to take out and assemble). Check Freecycle, Craigslist and Kijiji to get started locally. Even for the older kids, Value Village has an amazing used book section and many of the hardcover books are very gently used and a fraction of the price of buying new. They may never know and even if they do, you are teaching them important lessons in upcycling, reusing and saving money.
And, here’s one last bonus tip … make sure to have a list (yes, just like the big guy in red) and stick to it. There is nothing more likely to blow your holiday shopping budget than last minute panic shopping that leads to you buying more than you really need. Trust me, I have fallen victim to this and ended up with way more than was ever necessary. Remember, your kids take their lead from you with regards to their holiday expectations. If you make the holidays about being with family and giving to others that’s one of the best gifts you really can give your kids. Please leave a comment with any of your cost saving tips for the holidays!