Top 3 tips for saving money on kids’ Christmas gifts

Warning: This post is not suitable for Santa believers. 😉 

Hello friends! Christmas is right around the corner (as if you didn’t know). If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you’re already thinking about the three Ws: Wallet, Waistline and Watching Hallmark movies …

Today I wanted to give you my top three tips on how to save BIG money on Christmas gifts for the kids.

I know our family tends to overspend in this area, even if we go into the season with the best intentions to stick to a budget. We blow it every.single.year.

But not this year! We are committed to being smart with our money and making good gift-buying decisions, so we can start the new year off right, in a healthy financial place.

Are you ready? Lets do this!

1. Don’t have the kids make a list of what they want.

Say whaaaaa? No list? What will we do? How will we survive without THE LIST?

Well, you will, I promise, because THE LIST creates a couple problems:

  • It guilts us into getting every.single.thing (or close to it) on THE LIST, and invokes a sense of loss in our kids when they don’t get a particular thing on it.
  • It prompts our kids to think materialistically and brainstorm more stuff that they don’t need, just to create THE LIST. Is that really a value we’re trying to promote? “Hmmmm. Let me think of some more stuff I would really like … well, I have a lot of stuff already, but this is my chance, so I’d better come up with something or I’ll be left with coal in my stocking … what does little Johnny down the street have that I should have, too?” 
  • It does not factor in a spending limit. Kids just rattle off what they want without particular thought to price, quantity, space in the house, etc. What’s a loving parent supposed to do with that? Cave in and go over budget, right? Or get something completely impractical because it is the only thing left on THE LIST that is reasonably priced. This may not be the best formula for Christmas-buying success.

2. Set a spending limit.

Yes. I know. This is probably an obvious one. The hard part is sticking to it! Consider setting a spending limit (or gift limit) for each child as well as an overall limit for family and friends in general.

This allows us to exercise our creative muscles. It can actually be fun to brainstorm ideas for gifts that don’t cost a lot, but are meaningful. These thoughtful, lower-cost/handmade gifts can often become the most cherished ones by extended family members and friends.

3. Don’t start buying gifts too early.

If I didn’t tick you off by killing THE LIST, I’m probably going to do it with this one …

There have been years when I worked really hard to get out ahead of the Christmas firestorm by buying a lot of gifts ahead of time … like way ahead of time.

The problem with getting gifts early is that, by Black Friday, I’ve lost the memory of the spending I’ve already done. I’m cranked up and ready.to.shop! … even though I don’t have much left that I need to buy.

So what’s a girl to do in that situation? BUY MORE!

I have this sneaking suspicion that early-bird shopping causes us to spend more overall. Check out this article with the statistics.

Regardless of what Christmas gift-buying strategy we choose, I hope this holiday season, we all remember to cherish what’s important … to cling to our faith and our family, and to help elevate all that’s good in the world.

Let me leave you with a link to this hilarious video of kids getting some unexpected gifts at Christmastime and their unlikely reactions …

Thankful kids react to ridiculous gifts

Have a blessed holiday season!

I’m back!

Hello dear friends. It has been awhile since I’ve posted something fresh here on the old blog, and that is because I have been up to something big … like career-shifting BIG.

Many of you may recall the blood, sweat and tears I poured into our flip house last year. Well, what I didn’t bargain for with that project was how utterly passionate I would become about helping create beautiful homes for other people.

Since 2011, I’ve been sprucing up the spaces in our own house and sharing them here on the website. That’s been awesome and incredible, and definitely something I want to continue. In fact, I’ve got lots to share with you about what we’ve been DIYing over the past several months.

But I want to be able to do more … to help others find and create their own perfect homes. In other words, I don’t want to keep all this DIYery (nope, not a word) trapped within these four walls. 😉

So to make a long story short, I’ve spent the past several months stuck in my home office (see below) taking coursework and studying to become a PA real estate salesperson.

I’m happy to report I’ve passed my licensing exam and, as soon as my RE broker receives my license in the mail, I’ll be on my way. (More to follow on those details.)

Having my RE license will allow me to help families in our area (maybe even one of you dear readers) find their perfect home and/or sell their current home. Plus, I’ll have a little more of an inside scoop on properties that may turn out to be great investments for us to fix up, resell, turn into vacation rentals, etc.

To say I’m excited about the future of our business is an understatement. It feels like a natural progression for me, considering my creepy obsession passion for all things home. 😉

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’ll be hopping on here once a week to post fresh content again, which fuels me (and hopefully gets your creative juices flowing, too). So if you like to pop in to check up on the goings on around here, there will be no shortage of projects, for sure.

Stay tuned for more details on how you can reach out to me if you’re interested in buying/selling a home. And keep a lookout for our latest thrifty DIY projects, including fresh paint colors in the living room, kitchen and dining room, as well as a complete laundry room renovation, which involves a total project fail on my part that was saved by my dear husband (yay).

It’s good to be back! 🙂

Fear, faith and ‘fresh water in the desert’

Earlier this year, I got fed up with just talking about flipping a house. So I did a ton of homework and started house hunting. After a few months, I found my little white house and I closed on it Nov. 6.

Long before I took the plunge and bought this piece of investment real estate, I was well aware there would be anxious moments along the way. (This is probably why it took me so many years to go through with it.)

Now I am officially “in the thick of things” with the renovations. Because there is such a wee profit margin on this home, I’ve committed to doing most of the work myself, an undertaking that has inevitably required Herculean effort.

Bathroom-demo

Bathroom gut job

If I was honest, I’d have to admit there are many sleepless nights when I wonder:

  1. Will I ever actually finish this house?
  2. Will I live to tell about it, or will I need to be buried out back next to the new septic tank?
  3. Will I lose all my savings and have to work in fast food to pay the bills?

So perhaps you’re wondering what keeps me going during these frequent moments of doubt and fear?

  1. Sheer grit.
  2. A deep faith in God and a belief that He has led me to this place for a divine purpose.
  3. An amazing support system of family and friends who have helped me in so many ways, from sharing business contacts to physically helping at the house when I get stuck on a project.
  4. Determination to create a lifestyle where I do work that I love, make money at it, and teach my children what it looks like to work hard, be generous and live abundantly.

Of course, now that a typical day consists of me choking on drywall dust, wading through building debris, and spending far too many hours within two feet of either a toilet or some other sewage pipe, I’ve clung to the 23rd Psalm more than ever before.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
    He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Regardless of each day’s challenges, I’m reminded that the most profound growth we experience in life often comes in our most uncomfortable moments. And I think of the wise advice fellow entrepreneur Amy Howard gave me at Haven this year. “There is fresh water, even in the desert.”

AMaker'sGuide

What have you done lately to venture out of your comfort zone?