At the beginning of this year, my husband decided to leave the military and we agreed that when his contract was up in October we would move back stateside as civilians....
You guys, it is terrifying to start completely over from scratch. And if that wasn't scary enough, we had to do it from 5,000 miles away. We had to pick a state to live in, try and find a home that we wouldn't see before moving in, and my husband had to find a job that would hire him before even meeting him.
Here we are, 3 months into being back in Florida and he has just now found a job and we have had to learn to budget like CRAZY. The one thing I didn't want to happen was Mila ending up with no presents, on the one year she is old enough to get excited about Christmas. I know presents aren't a huge ordeal and aren't why we have Christmas and la la la, but to me, it was important for her to get at least some things.
Here is how I have shopped for her on an extremely tight budget this year:
1. Shop past season sales.
Once Halloween was over and all of the goodies went on sale, I snatched them up. Target had their Halloween items on sale for 75% off the next day! This is the best time to stock up on candy and stocking stuffers. They also had a ton of trick-or-treat goodies like this Olaf bag that I got for 50 cents. I stuffed it completely full with candy, glow sticks, and other little sale items, all for 5$ total.
2. Online shopping Cash Back Sites
Any shopping that you do online, take advantage of cash back websites!
Ebates gives you cash back on your purchases, right into your paypal account. Things that I would normally buy in stores, I now buy online and get money back for it. How amazing is that?!
Swagbucks automatically applies all online coupons to your purchase, that way you don't have to go hunting for them online. Every purchase also earns you points that you can redeem for gift cards or cash!
I scored this kitchen set for Mila. Originally $120. I could never stomach spending that much right now. I kept checking for it online and one day Swagbucks applied a 30% off coupon and 15% off coupon automatically, then Ebates gave me back an additional 5$ for the purchase! I got it for 60$ and couldn't pass that deal up.
The only time I make an exception to shop in store for gifts and toys, is when I use the Cartwheel App at Target. Every day they have a new toy for 50% off in store. Most of these toys are already on sale at Target at as well so you get double discounts!
This Frozen tent was 30% off one day and it was also the 50% off daily toy on the Cartwheel app. After stacking the two discounts, I got it for 8$ instead of the original 40$.
4. Take advantage of store sales
I always assumed black Friday had the best deals of the year, but after keeping track of sales so closely this year, the best sales seem to happen the weeks before and after black Friday. Instead of only certain items being on sale for that one day, you will see buy one get one 50% or even buy one get one free on all these items that weren't even on sale Black Friday. I waited for that play kitchen for weeks and kept putting it off because I just wasn't happy with the 10% discount offered on Cyber Monday or anything that wasn't a substantial amount off of the total. A few days later, the 30% off sale happened for ALL toys and then I added another 20% off coupon on top of that. Which leads me to....
5. Never buy anything full priced
There is always somewhere with a better deal, so don't impulse buy. I do so much research and price comparing before buying an item. The best places to price compare for me have been Target, Amazon, and Walmart. The money you save from that large item going on sale, can be used towards other items you weren't able to afford before!
6. Buy items used
I have found some treasures on Craigslist, Bookoo, and at yard sales. Buying something used and giving it a face lift can save tons of money. We have always bought most of Mila's toys used and just cleaned them up. Kid's don't care if their toys are used or brand new, so why spend the extra money on something just as good.
Do you guys have any other budgeting tips to share for the holiday season? Please let me know below!