So how many of you ventured out on Black Friday or spent some online hours on Cyber Monday?
I was happy to do a little shopping so far, mostly on Friday — happy because I was able to do it right in my town (not many crowds here up against the foothills), happy to be able to do it with Superman (a rare adventure for us, really, to shop together!), happy to include lunch in the process, and especially happy to do it in flip-flops. (Black Friday in flip-flops … yup, that’s the ticket … )
I was also happy to have my little “Christmas fund” to shop with. You know, I’ve made a lot of stupid financial decisions in my life, but one thing I did that I’m actually really happy about was setting up a “Christmas fund” years and years ago. I think I was still at The Register — it must have been the mid-90s — and the company allowed us to divert our direct deposit into any variety of accounts. Someone at the bank told us about their “Christmas account,” so I decided to try that. I put something like $25 into it at the time (per check, per week, per month — you could do whatever you wanted). It was money I didn’t miss at all on a per-check basis, but I have to tell you — by the time December rolled around, the bank handed us a little “Christmas theme” bank card, and it created a nice little sum of cash to use for Christmas! The bank doesn’t automatically do the cards anymore, but we still do the account. We simply upped the amount as our family grew over the years. It’s so nice to just get cash out in the last week of November, and not have to worry that it’s money that needs to be spent somewhere else, or not have to worry about using credit cards.
So … never, ever come to me for financial advice, but the Christmas account is one thing I can advise without reservation! : )
So tell me about your shopping adventures so far — do you do all your shopping online, or venture out to brick-and-mortars? Do you have any great secrets to share like the Christmas fund?
I’ve never in my life gone out on Black Friday but this year we got up at 4:30 in the morning to drive across town (in NJ) and stand in line at Staples…it was worth it. We got two 500 GB portable hard drives for $69 each. Huge savings and we needed them. But did we shop…uh, no.
Hi, Jersey Girl! Wow, 4:30????? That’s dedication! But it sounds like it was less about Christmas shopping and more about finding a good bargain on something you really needed. And I can certainly relate to that. Smart shoppin’! I think the only reason Superman was really shopping with me was because we needed a new printer, also, since ours had given up the night before the holiday break (of course, both older kids had essays they were trying to print!). So we were shopping for a “need” along with gifts. (We did find a good deal, too.) But then it was back to a cozy home for you, huh? 🙂
I have gone out on black friday for years now and this was the first year I didn’t get up at the crack before dawn and fight the crowds. I did go to one store at 8am to get a washing machine (a great deal!!) and ventured into Target, but all the “doorbusters” were done by then. I started shopping on line three years ago on Thanksgiving – they have just about as many great give away prices as black friday and I can do it in pjs! I actually got all but a couple things bought on line and am pretty much done now =) I like to get the bulk of it done by that weekend so I can relax and enjoy the rest of the holiday. As for a Christmas fund – well, I stash money away too. I don’t have an official fund at the bank, but I stash tip money. I do that for school shopping and birthdays as well. I try and put 10$ or more a day away (depending on how many tips I get). It is much easier for me than worrying about a credit card bill plus you learn to budget and really bargain shop!
Hi, Debi! I’m glad you commented. I actually saw your Facebook update that said you got so much shopping done online, in your PJs, even BEFORE Black Friday, and I was totally impressed. That’s an excellent idea, really, to do all your shopping online. At least it seems pretty stress-free. Although, do you worry that things won’t be shipped in time? Has that ever happened? I usually order at least one thing per year online, but I spend all my time worrying if/when it will arrive! (But … now that I think about it, I’ve ALWAYS had a good result, so maybe I should do more of this. )
Also, love your idea about stashing away cash. It really does bring the stress level down at the holidays, doesn’t it? You can just take out your wad of what feels like “free” money and buy for others with glee.
Absolutely! I don’t have to worry about paying for Christmas all year long because I charged and you don’t miss the money because it feels “free”, like you said! I have always gotten my packages way before Christmas. They actually have already started arriving! Usually they ship within three to five days after your order and all the stores send emails so you can keep track. One thing that I did different this year was to order “site to store”. Not all stores offer it, but when they do, it is shipped right to a store near you to pick up and they don’t charge you shipping! The only time I worried about not getting something on time was when I ordered from ebay – you have to rely on and individual to send it, so you never know when they will do it. Anyways, you should give it a try sometime – I usually have all tabs open on the computer with different stores sites comparrison shopping to get the best deal – I know I am saving gas money and time not doing a lot of running around =)!
So how bad is it that we haven’t bought the first gift yet? That bad, huh? Thought so. #parentfail
Debi — Normally, the only online shopping I do is on Amazon, where I buy lots of books that I can’t find at the bookstore. But this year, I just bought two more items (a bracelet as a gift, and a few charms for a gift). I’m excited to have a little Christmas shopping done online! Whoo-hoo! Thanks for the encouragement! I do feel lucky that I live LITERALLY inside my town’s “town center,” which is loaded with major stores and shopping all within walking distance, so I feel like I can buy most things without much fanfare. But the bracelet and charms were things I’d have to go to the mall for — not really interested in that!
Crystal — Well, if you’re planning on shopping online, as Debi suggests, it doesn’t seem bad at all. 🙂 Man, you’ve got lots of kids to shop for, though, huh? I don’t know how you do it … Six kids, is it???