Budgets & Bargains

32 Days to Christmas! Inventory Holiday Decorations

The weekend after Thanksgiving is a time when many families begin decorating for the Christmas season. Will you bring out the holiday decor today?

Decorating for the holidays can be a lot of fun--unless you must dig them out from under last year's storage chaos. Burned-out lights, broken ornaments, and scattered packaging can dampen anyone's decor spirit.

This year, lay a good foundation for years to come. As you open stored decorations, assess the state of holiday decor. Will you need to replace lights, candles or garlands? Add the new items to a shopping list for post-season clearance sales, and make notes of any items that will be retired this year.

As you unpack, take a look at decor storage containers. Have they held up to the job? Are they easy to stack? If new storage boxes are in order, begin looking out for them as you shop for the season.

Are new decorations in order? Check out these tips to decorate for the season ... frugally:

Frugal Holiday Decorating Tips

33 Days to Christmas! Get Ready For Black Friday Sales

If your shopping pulse races at the thought of post-Thanksgiving sales, heads up! The better prepared you are, the more likely you'll score the items on your list on Friday--at the price you want to pay.

To make your list and plan your shopping strategy as information comes to light, try our free printable Black Friday sales planner:

"Black Friday" Holiday Sales Planner

47 Days to Christmas! Prepare For Pantry Bargains

Attention bargain shoppers! The year's lowest prices on pantry staples will be seen in at the supermarket during the weeks to come. Do you know what you'll need to stock the pantry for the holiday season?

Today, make a quick pantry inventory. Sort and organize stored foods, and make out a shopping list for baking supplies, mixers, snacks and other holiday needs. Make a list of non-perishable items, and be alert to grocery store discounts in the days ahead.

Knowing what you have--and buying only what you need at discount prices--is the fast track to holiday food savings.

Free Printable Pantry Inventory Form

Need a shopping list? Print one here:

Free Printable Shopping List

75 Days to Christmas! Save Money for Christmas

Holiday spending can be hard on the pocketbook--and bought on credit, "Christmas Day" can stretch into the new year for weeks or months.

Ease the Christmas cash crunch with creative ways to save money for Christmas! Financial institutions offer dedicated Christmas clubs for the disciplined, but savvy holiday planners have found other ways to accumulate cash for holiday spending.

Start now to save money for Christmas. The goal? A debt-free holiday season:

Creative Ways to Save Money for Christmas

77 Days to Christmas! Plan For Holiday Bazaars

For a super source of holiday decor items, gifts and baked goods, shop local Christmas bazaars. Often benefitting worthy causes or organizations, these informal gatherings offer food, fun and a welcome leg up on the gift list.

To find bazaars in your area, look to local newspapers or community web sites; many provide seasonal listings of holiday bazaars and harvest fairs.

Add 'em to your calendar, check 'em out ... for a good time and a quick start to holiday shopping.

83 Days to Christmas! Get Ready for Catalog and Online Shopping

They're heerrree ... online bargains and holiday catalogs!

Planning for Christmas, shopping from home has many advantages over the holiday mall scene. No long lines. No sore feet. No staggering to the car, weighed down by parcels and shopping bags. Shopping becomes a pleasure, conducted from a favorite chair. Phone in your selections, sit back, and wait for the UPS man. Ahhhhh!

Still, it's possible to have too much of a good thing! The catalog tide sweeps in at the end of August, engulfing mailboxes and tabletops with untidy stacks and piles--and disorganized catalog shopping exacts a high price for convenience.

How to shop smart and save? Try these three tips to organize catalog shopping:

Three Tips for Smart Catalog Shopping

To track catalog and Internet purchases, add an order tracker page to your Christmas planner:

Catalog/Internet Order Tracker

84 Days to Christmas! Start a Seasonal Shopping List

Warning: holiday inventories ahead! Do you know where your shopping list is?

A seasonal shopping list is the closest thing to a personal shopper, so start a seasonal shopping list today. Use it to corral all the little "gotta-buy" items that will cross your path in the weeks ahead.

You’ll subdivide the list according to your own needs, including everything from a running grocery shopping list to reminders for gift wrap, seasonal or crafts supplies. Color-coding entries can make it easier to focus on crafts or food or clothing sections; do what works for you!

Tucked into the Christmas planner, the shopping list is a faithful friend. Use it to capture fleeting “must-buy” moments and spare your brain.

Did you find a UFO crafts project that needs only a bit of ribbon to complete? Write “ribbon – green plaid” on the list. Will the children’s school hold a holiday food drive? Note “extra cranberry sauce” under the grocery section.

Second step: check the list before you leave the house—or take it with you. It’ll jog your memory and help you make good use of small bits of time. Waiting for a child to finish a tutorial session? Make a quick turn into the crafts store down the street for that self-same ribbon, and cross the project off the UFO list.

Get organized for the holiday season ... with a seasonal shopping list!

Print a Seasonal Shopping List

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