This is a special guest post by Jennine Yool, Financial expert and mom of four.
Over the weekend my husband and I managed to do something that I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve done over the past three years. Wait for it…we got out shopping just the two of us! Since adding a third and then subsequently fourth little one to our crew, getting out kid-free is a pretty rare event in our house. When my husband James and I do manage to get a sitter, it’s usually after bedtime. Typically, the last thing either one of us wants to be doing after a long day is rushing to the mall to run around just before the stores close. But, this past Saturday was different. The daycare our littlest two girls go to part time offers an event near Christmas they call “Shopping Day.” Whoever came up with such an idea is a genius. So with four free hours to ourselves in the middle of the day, we set out on a mission. With detailed lists in hand, we avoided the malls, but ended up at a number of the big box stores, and managed to get nearly everything on our list for our kids, as well as our niece and nephew. By the end of it we were wiped, but felt accomplished that we stuck to our lists. We hadn’t gone (too) overboard and had even managed to really enjoy each others company while we were at it. It did get me thinking though as I proceeded through the checkout line at a toy store, that the holidays do have a way of adding up.
I couldn’t help but think of the financial impact this time of year can have on families, so with that in mind, I’ve compiled my top four tips on how to spend less (and enjoy more) this holiday season…
1. Simplify. This first tip is one that our family has been really embracing over these last couple of years, and one that I would continue even if the financial impact wasn’t there. In an effort to raise generous, grateful and not overly entitled children, we have seriously scaled back Christmas as years have gone by. This tip is going to mean different things to different people and look different for everyone. But tangibly at our house, it came down to two things. Firstly, setting a gift buying budget (and sticking to it) and secondly, embracing an idea that I heard a few years back that I kind of fell in love with. It’s super simple too, which is a huge bonus. Each child gets “something they want, something they need, something to wear & something to read.” Easy. Simple. Love it!
2. Price match. This tip is one that I feel like a lot of moms I know already take advantage of, but is especially great to be reminded of this time of year. Stores like ToysRUs, for example will match ANY advertised price. I frequently see parents scanning shelves at the grocery store to price match using flyers or apps on their phones. But the entire time I was toy shopping, I didn’t observe a single person price matching. And remember, aside from the dollars you’re saving on the item(s) you’ve price-matched, you’re also saving yourself the time, energy and gasoline of driving around to other stores. Always a bonus.
3. Shop kid-free. Until this past kid-free shopping trip, I’m not sure I would have fully appreciated the value in this one. But I can’t help but wonder how much “stress spending” I’ve done over the years in an effort to keep my kids quiet, content and entertained while I’ve been out shopping. Since becoming a mom, trips to the mall are more of a marathon than a leisurely outing. The goal is to get in and out as quickly (and quietly) as possible and in doing so, I know there’s no way I was paying close enough attention to price, quality, options, etc. This is one time to call on Grandma and Grandpa, or even another family to swap childminding for a few hours. Once you’ve lined up a sitter, get out with your spouse, grab (or bring) lunch and turn the afternoon into a bit of a date. You won’t regret it!
4. Plan. This one is easy to say, but I realize it sometimes gets lost in execution. Planning ahead saves me from running to the grocery store on the way to a Christmas event, grabbing a fruit or veggie tray, and ultimately paying for someone else to do what I could have done myself at home. I get that there’s always going to be times that convenience is well worth the extra cost, but whenever possible, I try to make from scratch an appetizer or dessert to share and bring; that way, I know exactly what’s in it and can cater the recipe I decide to make to what’s on sale that week.
What do you do to make the most of your resources during the holidays?
With a Degree in Economics and nearly eight years selling mortgages in the Greater Toronto Area, Jennine strives to provide her clients with the education, rates and individuality tailored financing solutions necessary, to assist them in making informed decisions about their future. Interested in learning more? Contact Jennine Yool at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Jennine’s financial tips on Facebook.