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25 Ways to Save Money this Christmas

Now more than ever Canadians need to stand up and actually pay attention before they pull out their credit cards this season. With our household debt levels at all time highs, this year is the one to get crafty, find cheap gifts, and remember that Christmas is not about presents! Here are 50 ways that you can save this holiday season:

1.) Don’t ever pay the first price you see. Look around online at comparison shopping sites such as Canada Post, ShopBot, or RedFlagDeals.

2.)  While you’re online, also don’t forget that things such as discount codes and coupons are ever-present. Go to any search engine and type in the name of the store or item you want, and then type in “discount codes.” Once you’ve searched around a little bit, do the same thing typing in “coupons” after the store or product name. You’ll be amazed at just how much you can save!

3.) When it comes to large groups such as your children’s friends or your extended family members, draw names to see who is buying for who. It’s way cheaper, and you’ll save yourself a huge headache when you’re not running from store to store.

4.) You may currently buy in bulk for your groceries, but you can do it with Christmas presents too. Look for two-for-one promotions, and any time where you’ll receive a discount for buying more. Just make sure first that you are in fact, saving money.

5.) Check out smaller local boutiques, shops and markets. Often they’ll be cheaper than bigger chain stores, or at the very least, more willing to negotiate.

6.) Auction sites such as eBay and Kijiji are no-brainers for Christmas shopping. Just always, always check to see what the condition is, and make sure it’s excellent.

7.) Anytime you shop online, try to purchase as much as you can from the same place so that you can save on shipping and postage charges.

8.) Want to get some of your gifts for free? You can if you check out Freecycle.org. A non-profit website where members give stuff away – for free!

9.) Have someone on your list that loves all that super trendy stuff? Mad that it only goes on sale after Christmas? Those trends are changing too, and they often now go on sale about one week before the holiday. So these are items where your procrastination will actually come in handy and help you!

10.) Walking by a beauty counter and see a bunch of free samples? Pick up a few – they make great stocking stuffers for girls!

11.) Take the time to make homemade cookies, fudge, or another treat for loved ones. With so many turning away from pre-made processed foods, homemade baked treats are coming back into fashion!

12.) For relatives, purchase a cheap bulletin board at the dollar store and fill it up with a collage of family pictures. They’ll love it much more than any store-bought gift, and you can even place a piece of clear laminate on  top to keep it in good condition.

13.) Magazine subscriptions can often cost as little as $25 for an entire year, and they’ll keep giving until the holiday season 2013. To get the best deal, check at local schools as they often run magazine fundraisers.

14.) Some consider e-cards not to be as personal as getting an actual card in the mail. But they are free, environmentally-friendly, and can convey just as much meaning and warmth. Even if you can’t put them on your card wheel for the holiday season.

15.) Just like you can put off trendy items until the week before Christmas, you can also put off buying all of your wrapping materials. Paper, ribbons, tape, scissors, whatever you need. Stores can’t sell this stuff in January so they start marking it down early. Make sure you’re there when they do! Already purchased your stuff for this year? Start stocking up on stuff for next Christmas!

16.) Don’t want to pay for all that stuff that just gets ripped to shreds anyway? Find retailers or charities that will do it for a very low cost (lower than what you’d pay buying it yourself,) or even for free!

17.) While we’re on wrapping material, never purchase gift tags. They’re a waste of money when you can easily use the back of a small piece of wrapping paper.

18.) Want really creative gift tags? Cut out the picture on the front (ensuring there’s no writing on the back,) punch a hole in the top, string ribbon through and attach it to the gift. Don’t forget to write the “To” and “From” on the back though!

19.) Don’t waste your money, or your children’s oral health on advent calendars! Instead cut a piece of fabric into the shape of a Christmas tree. Starting at the bottom with “1″ and ending at the top with “25″ sew on small pockets that can be opened every day and fill them with pennies. Your kids get a treat, you save money, and best of all, once they’re empty you can use them again the next year!

20.) You know what else you can use year after year? Artificial trees! They come more life-like than ever, and they’re cheaper initially than fresh trees too.

21.) If you must have that fresh pine smell in your home throughout the holidays, look at local markets instead of flower shops or grocery stores, as they’ll be most expensive here.

22.) Shop early. So easy to say, and so hard to do. No, you don’t have to start shopping in January this year but once these holidays pass, do start thinking about it around the same time you start thinking about back to school shopping.

23.) Stocking stuffers have gone completely out of control, with some stockings ending up with smartphones in them! Remember that stockings are a “bonus” gift, and meant to be filled with small, affordable things. Nuts, candles, mandarin oranges are all good.

24.) Never buy the extended warranties. Yes you want to make sure the gift you’re giving wont’t break; but if it does, it will likely do so within the time frame of the manufacturer’s warranty.

25.) Last but certainly not least, set a budget and stick to it! It’s so easy to get carried away with holiday shopping. If you have a list, a plan, and a budget, it’ll be much harder for those retailers to be able to push your buttons!

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