5 Minute Read
It feels like every Christmas season, businesses are competing for your hard-earned cash in new ways. The festive marketing is everywhere. And each Christmas ad is going to try to get you to buy things you don’t need with extra money you might not have.
If you’re getting out of debt or building up your savings, the phrase "extra money" probably isn’t even in your vocabulary right now. But stores will still do everything they can to get you to toss a couple of extra items into your cart this season.
Steer clear of these Christmas extras they say you can’t live without!
Extra! Extra! You Don’t Need These Things
You’ll hear the pitch for the extended warranty as soon as you reach the register. So, we want you to practice saying this: "No." It’s a complete sentence. Now wasn’t that easy?
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You should decline the extended warranty simply because it’s not a good deal. Warranties at electronic stores are ridiculous because these stores work on such slim margins. They can make up to a 200% profit from selling you an extended warranty, according to research by Pennsylvania State University.(1) That’s why you’ll hear a pitch about a $1 warranty on your $2 pack of chewing gum.
Store Credit Card Discounts
Say it again: "No!"
You’re getting really good at this.
Everyone from big-box retail stores to Uncle Bob’s Toothpick Shack seems to have their own store credit card these days. They’ll be more than happy to offer you 10–20% off this $7 purchase of Santa Claus socks if you’ll just open a credit card account. And watch out for those "store cards"—a lot of them are credit cards in disguise!
Just think, you could still be paying off this year’s Christmas next December! Talk about Christmas memories that last. Bah humbug to that!
Gift Wrapping Service
If it’s complimentary at the store, go for it. But you really don’t need to pay for someone to wrap all your gifts. This isn’t the North Pole. You’ll save a ton of money just buying a roll of wrapping paper and a bag of bows from the local dollar store. It’s all going to get ripped up on Christmas morning anyway.
You could also get crafty and creative! Grab some newspaper, brown bags or butcher paper and wrap your gifts with it. You can dress them up with some festive twine and ribbon, or let the kids decorate them with stamps and markers to give to the grandparents. It’s affordable and adorable!
And if you really want to try something unconventional this year, how about chip bag wrapping paper? We’re serious. All you have to do is turn an (empty) bag of chips inside out, wash it and then use the shiny, silver foil to wrap your gifts!
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Christmas Cards for Everyone
We know you want to send out the annual Christmas card with a festive photo of the family and your holiday-ready pet, but do you really need to?
If you do, go the inexpensive route—skip the professional photographer and set up your tripod and self-timer. Or ask a family friend with a good eye (or on point photography skills) to snap some Christmas photos for you.
When it comes time to print the Christmas cards, look for companies offering coupon codes. Some will even give you a certain number of cards for free—all you have to pay is the shipping cost.
You can cut costs even more if you only send those Christmas cards to 5–10 of your closest friends and family. It’s okay to be a little selective here. You don’t really need to send a card to the pizza delivery guy, your leader’s cousin, and your 9th grade Sunday School teacher.
You don’t need overnight shipping because you’re planning ahead, right? Don’t wait until December 22 to order your Christmas presents. If you order a few weeks earlier, you might even be able to get free shipping and have it arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.
Santa’s on a tight schedule, and he doesn’t have time to sit around and wait for your last-minute order! Plan ahead (like right now!) so you don’t have to worry about those extra overnight shipping rates.
Make the Most of Your Money This Season
We’re not trying to burst your holiday shopping bubble. Just remember: Christmas is a time to take joy in spending time with others and blessing them—not spending money just because every Christmas commercial told you to. Don’t get so caught up in the rush that you miss out on the spirit of the season.
Need a little extra help staying on track this Christmas season? Use our free EveryDollar budgeting app to create your Christmas budget in less than 10 minutes and track your spending on the go!