Blah.. Blah… Economy… Blah Blah. I can’t say anything you haven’t heard before and don’t lay claim to any more information about the economy than the next person. So, I’ll skip the introductory paragraph about the need most of us have to scale back.
We know the why’s – we just want the how’s and the where’s.
My oldest daughter, Emily the Ever-Prepared, has started buying Christmas gifts already. I know, I’m pretty annoyed with her too. The nerve – making me look so behind. After class a few days ago, she went by a favorite store and picked up something for one of her sisters. When she came home, we started talking at length about the cost of Thanksgiving meals, Christmas cookies, fudge, candy, decorations, Christmas breakfast, Christmas dinner, presents, stocking stuffers, etc.
One Christmas in the whole history of time I’d have been okay with the Grinch stealing and he’s nowhere to be found.
I’m just kind of kidding, of course. The holidays are about far more than presents, decorations, or even meals – but, even while we’re saying that, we’re planning the buffet, aren’t we??!!
Emily gathered her sisters around (she even pulled the youngest out of bed which was a move so bold, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor…I’d never attempt such a feat…). She told them they all had to “blood swear” that they were only getting X number of presents for each person on the list and they were only spending X amount of money.
I thought that was a pretty good move - a sort of system that every family member should set forth. Then, pinch those hard headed elves (like me) who dare to deviate and go hog arse wild.
After two went to their rooms to sort through circulars and one went back to bed (God love her sleepy little heart) I started thinking about my own Christmas list. I remembered when our girls were all really small, my husband and I used Layaway around Christmastime. It was a perfect way to get what we wanted early – like winter coats, the newest Barbies, barbie houses, boots, bikes, etc. all on a “young couple with three babies vs. one income” budget.
The main benefit of layaway is obvious: You can get more because you don’t have to pay for it all at once. There’s also an added benefit of keeping little eyes (and not so little ones) from snooping. Plus, for parents like me that are always tempted to be like, “Oh, you’re so cute… here open a present early..” – the option is taken out of our doting hands.
Plus, it’s easier to keep up with what’s been gotten for whom, and how much it cost, when you have helpful little layaway receipts.
However, I’m one of those people who likes to have presents wrapped and under the Christmas tree early in the season, so I don’t do layaway that much anymore. I would for larger items, though, especially since the economy is blah, blah, blah.
This morning, Google and I searched for stores who are still offering layaway plans. I came across a cool post that had the information I was looking for in one place. TJ Maxx is one of my daughters’ favorite stores, so it was nice to see them on the list. K-Mart’s also there, along with Marshalls, KB Toys, and Burlington Coat Factory.
I’m going to do more research and see what other stores offer layaway – I’ll edit this post (at the bottom) as I get more information.
Here are a few more tips of the trade…
Treats for the Trick or Treat equation don’t have to be expensive. If you scour the circulars in the Sunday paper, you’ll find that most stores will have a great sale right before Halloween. They don’t want to be left with a ridiculous amount of candy, after all. They want to make way for Christmas. Walgreens, Target, and Wal-Mart are usually the best about cutting the prices. If you have a lot of trick or treaters, you might consider buying in bulk somewhere like Sam’s Club.
Another option is to buy boxes of individually wrapped snacks like Fruit Rollups or other foods popular with moms who fill lunchboxes. Also, if your trick-or-treaters are fairly young, giving out party favors such as plastic bugs for boys and little bracelets or rings to girls is an option. Naturally, with all treats, make CERTAIN that they’re safe for the age group.
As for halloween costumes – have you seen how expensive they are anymore??! It makes a lot more sense to get creative and make your own. Emily’s boyfriend was kidding around (I think?) but he said he was going to wrap himself in aluminum foil and go as leftovers.
Clowns, pirates, movie stars, ghosts, etc. can all be made with make-up, bandanas, sheets, and wax lips (a la Angelina Jolie). And, of course, leftovers with aluminum foil. Love that boy.
For all decorations (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas..), don’t ever snub the Dollar General Store or Goodwill. I collect smiling ghosts, smiling snowmen, and little Indians and Pilgrims (smiling, optional) – and these “off the beaten paths” turn up some real originality.
As for baking, again – keep an eye on the circulars for sales and coupons. Beyond that, I’m looking for advice on saving money at the grocery store, not giving it!
I’ve noticed that every year, right around Thanksgiving, I find the best deals on baking supplies. Flour, sugar, brown sugar, spices, even nuts are cheaper around this time. A few years ago, I started buying extra around Thanksgiving for my Christmas baking.
Like I said above, I’ll keep an eye out for sales, rebates, and special offers – I’ll add Edits to the end of this post as I find them. Hopefully, when January rolls around we’ll still have some money in the bank.
Here’s a great article on Halloween Costumes, including advice on making your own: Five Tips for Your Halloween Costume