I have barely recovered from the sugar-filled frenzy that was Halloween, and my kids are screaming for new toys for Christmas. I could look at the situation as annoying; after all, my children have too many things to even store properly in our tiny 3-bedroom home. Or, I could see my kids’ pleadings as a sign of faith; they wouldn’t ask if they didn’t believe I could provide for them.
Regardless of how overwhelming the consumerism angle of Christmas seems to be, I welcome the chance to fulfill at least one wish on each child’s list by shopping sales and carefully planning up to a year in advance of the holiday. (We have a plastic tub of goodies that we got 80% off at the end of last season, each item purchased with the age range of 2011’s children in mind.)
For those of you who are more than a little cash-strapped this year, I suggest you start looking now for those can’t-miss deals of the season and employ these sure-fire tips:
Consider Layaway. The practice has often been compared to as “the poor man’s credit card”, which is probably why I remember my parents using it when I was a child. Layaway is slightly more responsible than the traditional credit account, as you will be required to pay in full before you pick up your product. Using layaway instead of credit will leave you with a zero balance after the holidays are finished.
Ad Match. I don’t know about you, but I loathe the exercise of running from store to store to store in search of that hot deal. If you are not already taking all of your ads to a store that honors competitive advertised pricing… do it! Save time and hassle (and money, of course), by getting the best deal from EVERY store at the one you’re most likely to want to visit.
Coupons work. Maybe you didn’t know that there were coupons for toys and candy, but they can knock up to 50% off your bill. Visit coupon blogs and manufacturer’s websites to get anywhere from $1-25 off a popular toy this year. The pros have been known to snag toys for almost free (and any extras can be kindly donated to the local Toys for Tots.)
Buy for next year. Some toys are so hot that they may be considered “lame” by the time 2012 rolls around. Others, like the open-ended toys my kids like most, will always be in style. Grab the clearance deals in the weeks following Christmas so you have a nice stash for the next year. Buy blocks, puzzles, and books for the age your child will be in the future so you never run out of goodies for birthdays, either. (You may also want to have a few “other” gifts for all those birthday parties your kids get invited to.)
There is always a small part of me that panics the night before Christmas; Did I buy enough? Did I buy too much? Will my kids appreciate what I’ve done? (I guess as long as I can sucker my husband into doing the wrapping, I really don’t have too much to worry about.)