You have probably seen the television commercials for layaway from Kmart and Sears. Walmart also has layaway available on toys, electronics and fine jewelry departments. Layaway is another way of purchasing items instead of credit cards. For a small fee down (usually $5 fee plus a percentage of the cost of the item as a down payment) you can pick out items and make scheduled payments over a couple of months or few months and when the full amount has been paid you are able to take the item home. One difference of layaway instead of credit cards is that there are no interest or finance charges.

Even though with layaway programs you avoid credit card debt and fees, you still need to monitor what you are spending so you are able to make the payments as they are scheduled.

This is part of a 90 day series with tips to help make your holidays easier. Click here for previous posts.

Nancy Kvamme

One of the added holiday expenses is for supplies such as wrapping paper, gift bags, tape, etc. These supplies can add up, especially since they will usually just be thrown away once the gift is opened. One thing about gift bags, they can easily be reused if they have not been damaged.

Some places to find these items for less are dollar stores and discount stores. Many dollar stores have a wide selection of wrapping paper and gift bags. You may also be able to find boxes for packing baked goods. I purchase gift boxes at after Holiday sales to use to pack the krumkake and other treats I usually make each year.

Another place to keep an eye out for deals on these supplies are major drugstores. Closer to the holidays, Walgreens and CVS usually have great deals on these supplies.

After the holidays is a great time to stock up on items you may need next year for a fraction of the original price.

If you can find ways to save money on some supplies you may have more money to spend on gifts and other expenses that come with the holidays.

This is part of a 90 day series with tips to help make your holidays easier. Click here for previous posts.

Nancy Kvamme

Yes, I know school has just started but before we know the holidays will be upon us. By taking some steps now, you may be able to take some of the stress out of the holidays.

1) Make a gift list and budget – Sit down and make a list of everyone you are planning on buying gifts for. Next to each one include an amount you are planning on spending and any gift ideas you may have. Once you are done with the list, total up the budgeted amounts. Now you can see how much you are planning on spending on gifts. Divide this amount by the number of months or weeks until the holidays. By doing this you can see how much you should try to work into your monthly budget to try to avoid charging those costs. Also by having ideas, you may be able to find items on sale.
2) Make a party budget – Using the same concept as the gift list, list any extra parties, dining out and other items you are planning.
3) Order your holidays cards as early as you can. By not waiting until the last minute you will have time to address and stamp the cards when you have extra time.

Nancy Kvamme

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about starting to plan and budget for your holiday shopping. Today on another blog I saw a post with examples of holiday shopping budgeting spreadsheets.

Nancy Kvamme

I know by now if you are done Christmas shopping, more shopping is the last thing on your list but if you keep your eyes open during the After Christmas sales you can save money and be ahead time next year. When I had my first apartment, I didn’t have much for Christmas decorations, but I scoured the after Christmas sales and within a year or two I had a good collection. Now I pick up things I need for a fraction of original price.

It is a great time to stock up on gift bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper, cards, etc. By having things you normally use on hand ahead of time, saves you from having to buy them next year. Also, if you are just starting out or need a new artificial tree, wreaths and other decorations it would be a good time to look for them. Sometimes you can find holiday wrapping paper that not necessarily Christmas themed that could be used for other occasions throughout the year.

Other things to look for are candles, and candies. If you buy the holiday bags of candies like Hershey’s Kisses, Peanut Butter cups, etc you can use for upcoming holidays. The silver and gold ones can be used for New Years, Red and silver for Valentines Day and Green and gold for St. Patricks Day.

If your budget can handle it, you may also be able to pick up some gifts for people to use for birthdays, or even for next Christmas.

School has just started and the last thing we want to think about are the Christmas holidays. At least until you walk into most stores. Most stores have had the Holiday decorations out for a couple of months already. But now is the perfect time to get started. If you start planning now and are able to cross items off your list, you can save yourself from some of the last minute pressures of trying to do everything at the last minute.

First make a list of people you plan to buy gifts for and an amount you plan to spend. This can include family, friends, teachers, daycare providers and anyone else you usually purchase a gift for. Once you have this list you have an idea of what it will cost you and you can also jot down ideas you have for each one. Then when you are out shopping if you happen to find something on sale, you can purchase it then. Also, by starting now, you can spread the spending out of the next few months instead of large bills in December and January. 

Along with the gifts, also make a list of extra expenses you usually incur over the holidays, such as extra parties, dining out, cards your send, postage. Those little expenses can add up quickly.

So with a little planning and preparation you can take steps to make the holiday season a little easier.

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Nancy Kvamme