Believe it or not, the holiday shopping season is upon us. Even though many of us didn't even get to soak up the Halloween season thanks to Hurricane Sandy, it's time to shift gears and prepare to fill our bellies up and empty out our pockets ... and our piggy banks ... and our savings accounts. But believe it or not, there are a helluva lot of ways to beat the AMEX charges and save cash on toys.
Now, if you're anything like me, you're shaking your head and saying 'Oh yeah, sister, been there, tried that ... it just ain't gonna work', but just trust me on this one, k? There's a way to save, stay in line with your budget, and actually enjoy the holiday season with friends, family, and without all the added stress. Check out our top five money-saving tricks:
1. Set aside money now. Putting aside $25 every week for the next six weeks gives you an extra $150 bucks. It makes the stress of spending all at once a little less on your wallet and your jolly disposition. If have children of your own -- or just nieces and nephews to shop for -- you can set aside money per child, too. Or you can set aside cash for big ticket toys. Your bank statements may thank you.
2. Go through your toy inventory. I'm willing to bet there are dozens of toys in your house that are never played with. Get rid of them. Try selling online (like Amazon, Half.com, eBay) or to a consignment shop in your area. The extra cash will give you extra cushion and you'll have a great idea of what your kid actually wants.
3. Make a list and check it twice. Before you even start thinking about stuffing, gravy, and pumpkin pie, you need to turn your attention to the list. Have your kids sit down one afternoon and compile their list. It doesn't matter if they don't get it all down at once, what matters is you have a starting point. As a parent (or grandparent or guardian), knowing ahead of time what your tots are asking for will help you mentally prepare for what to shop for.
4. Shop now for the little things. Remember how the early bird gets the worm? Be that worm, moms. Stores are packed with sales this time of year because they're trying to make way for the winter gear. Think: clothing, shoes, toiletries, bedding, hygiene. That said, you'll probably spend less now than you would by waiting. So go, shop!
5. Do not fear the sales. I repeat, do not fear the sales. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, eBay, Amazon, in-store and online coupons ... these are your lifelines from now until January. Check out what stores are offering -- will they have early morning specials? How long are coupons good for? Where can you get the best deal?, Can you buy this 'second-hand' and will your kid notice/care? Ask these questions. Knowing where you'll be able to save most will help you plan where to shop and give you the most bang for your buck.
Got any other good tips to add to the list? How are you planning on saving this season?
Image via I See Modern Britain/ Flickr