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!

How to make old mulch look new again

Hello friends! I hope you’re getting in the mood for fall. It’s been tough here in Pennsylvania, as we have seen record rain fall that just.won’t.quit. Of course, right now our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Florence!

Today I thought I’d share what’s going on outdoors at our place. Honestly, we’ve had so much going on ALL OVER THE PLACE, it’s been tough to chronicle it here on the blog. We have been busy with the most recent flip house and other projects … and I promise, there are some epic before-and-after photos around the corner. 😉

During a very brief break in the rain this week, I was able to plant a few new trees in our front yard and also add some mulch from our backyard mulch pit.

The problem with old mulch is that it looks pretty raggedy, even though it’s still good to use.

I was recently introduced to a new product through the Rust-Oleum® Creator’s Studio. It’s called Rust-Oleum Renovator Mulch Color Refresh, and it’s supposed to make your old mulch look new again! I volunteered to try out the product because … well … we’ve got some raggedy-looking mulch up in here.

You don’t mix this stuff with anything. You just dump it into a pump sprayer and apply it to your old mulch.

Here’s what my old mulch looked like with a coat of the Color Refresh in Brown.

Here’s a closeup of what the mulch looked like before … and after applying the product.

Pretty cool! I only used about a fifth of the 1-gallon jug to do my three trees. The jug says a gallon will cover up to 350 square feet. Bonus: I love the fact that it washes off your hands with soap and water … an important feature for this messy DIYer. 😉

The Mulch Color Refresh gave a great pick-me-up to my front yard. Now I just need to plant some grass in those bare spots …

Have you done any landscaping yet this season? I’ve heard the best times of year to plant trees and shrubs are during months that have an “r” in them.

I’ve personally had much better success with tree and shrub survival when I plant in the fall. Happy fall planting!

2018 Word of the Year

Hello friends! I hope you are excited for an adventurous 2018. I certainly am.

I always like to start each new year by designating a Word of the Year. It helps clarify my goals and intentions and provides a good foundation for my actions in the coming year.

Over the holidays, I like to take time to ruminate about what I want the next year to look like and what I’d like to accomplish.

I ask myself such questions as:

  1. What am I most proud of from 2017?
  2. What disappointments did I experience?
  3. What personal obstacle do I need to overcome or make significant progress on to reach next year’s goals?

After much introspection, this usually allows a theme or word to surface that will serve as a guide – a compass of sorts – over the next year.

In 2018, my word is:

Prepare.

As a creative, focus-challenged adrenaline junkie, I’ve always struggled with creating time to do careful preparation for events, projects, etc. I have often overlooked or procrastinated on the planning phase, opting instead for the thrill of reaction-based, last-minute scrambling. I can’t really explain why I do this. I think I must take pride in coming up with just-in-time solutions that work … that whole “I work best under pressure” claim.

But as I gain wisdom with age, I’m finding that careful preparation will almost always offer the most successful, professional and prosperous results in the end. And it certainly will reduce stress and anxiety.

So this year my word is designed to help me focus on the necessity of careful, proper planning in every area of my life.

Can I plan or anticipate every single thing that will happen this year? Of course not.

Do I need to allow room in my schedule for flexibility, fun and adaptation? Certainly!

This is simply me recognizing that being prepared whenever possible will help create the margin I need to have more flexibility and fun in my life.

Some of you “born organized” people have long understood the need for good preparation and planning. Bear with me on this … this has been a long journey for me. But I’m making good progress and am excited for what this discipline will make possible for me in my personal and professional life.

So now I’ll turn it over to you.

What is your 2018 Word of the Year?