Nov 30: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings These are a few of my favorite things.” THE SOUND OF MUSIC

After complaining for weeks that it is just too early for holiday window displays and Christmas music, with less than a month until the big day, it is finally the right time to start your Christmas shopping.

But unless you are careful you can blow your budget and end up with a huge credit card bill in January and no money to pay for it. According to the 2014 Post Holiday Spending Survey released by data collection company Field Agent, last year Saskatchewan residents planned to spend $698 but on average, actually spent 15.9% more, or $809.

To give you some ideas how to personalize your gifts and save some money, this week’s Best from the Blogosphere includes links to five websites that will give you some very good ideas where to start, even if like me, you are not in the least bit “crafty.”

Buy Nothing Christmas was originally started by Canadian Mennonites to help de-commercialize Christmas. For a great list of homemade gift ideas click here. I like food gifts such as made from scratch cookie kits, homemade granola and a spice sampler using spices bought in bulk and packed in pretty jars,

How to Not Go Broke Holiday Shopping includes some great tips for saving money. For example, if you get a great deal on a gift for your sister-in-law, don’t also pick one up for yourself. Remember you’ll be receiving gifts from others this season and your budget will thank you. Also, help to avoid temptation by unsubscribing from retailers’ email lists.

In Eight Simple Ways to Spend Less This Christmas the author suggests that another simple way to spend less on gifts is to buy or sell gift cards online. Find a gift card for a store that you’re interested in purchasing from and you could wind up buying a hundred dollars’ worth of gifts for seventy bucks. Take a look at GiftCardsWild for what’s currently available.

There are some interesting ideas in 48 Xmas MoneySaving Tips. For example, if you are traveling to visit friends and family, book your train tickets as soon as possible. Cut out gifts for adult family members and give gifts only to the children. Avoid the cost of long distance telephone calls by chatting for free with faraway family and friends on Skype or other apps.

And finally 39 Frugal Tips for Saving Money at Christmas suggests that instead of investing in pricey wrapping paper and gift bags that are immediately consigned to the recycle bin, wrap gifts with coloured comics from your newspaper or your children’s artwork. You can also use inexpensive tissue paper that you’ve saved from other gifts throughout the year decorated with stickers or even just the words ‘Merry Christmas.”

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

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