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A Dozen Tips to Make the Most out of Your Holiday Budget #Urbanmommyinc

Although it seems like summer just ended yesterday, the Elf on the Shelf is already itching to come back out for another round of Holiday cheer. It may seem like saving money during the holidays is getting harder and harder to do, but if you follow these simple tips you can get everything you want for Christmas without breaking the bank! Pour yourself a cup of hot cocoa, and learn some savvy money-saving techniques!
1.  Get an Early Start Reading this already means you are ahead of the curve! Starting early means that you will have time to compare prices and look out for coupons and sales. Waiting until the week before Christmas to purchase gifts can be a big mistake. Mall traffic aside, you are not going to have a lot of choice and may end up buying things that you didn’t want.
2. Buy that Sunday Paper If you don’t regularly receive the Sunday paper, make certain that you purchase one each week. This is where you can find circulars filled with coupons that can help you to find great deals on the gifts you want. If you find a coupon offering a significant discount, take it! Holding out for Black Friday can be a gamble. That said…
3. Shop online sales and sign up for your favorite stores — Online With the growing popularity of online shopping, there is less and less reason for camping out right after you finish tucking away Thanksgiving dinner!  (I know i didn’t hit any stores for blackfriday) Many of the great deals that are available in-person on Black Friday are also available online. If there’s anything better than saving money, it’s saving money in your pajamas. For example, I’m almost finish shopping for my toddler. Yesterday i found these great PDA watches for kids.  $5 bucks…75% off at Barnes and Noble. Called my husband and we bought them out for all the kids in the family!Bingo!
4. Layaway Today Take advantage of the many free layaway programs offered by popular stores (K-Mart offers free layaway in store). The sooner you put those big-ticket items on layaway, the longer you have to pay them off, and the smaller your payments will be!
5. Ask About Price Matching This is especially important for saving money on expensive gifts, like technology and videogames.   BestBuy has a price match guarantee, and many other stores will price match with their competitors. Just bring in a current ad showing the product at a cheaper price, and ask to talk to a manager. Don’t worry about being an “annoying customer,” and remember that closed mouths don’t get fed!
6. Browse In-Store, Purchase Online Often you can purchase a product that you like in-store, only to spot it later online at a considerable discount. Browsing in-store allows you to really check out what you’re getting, and purchasing online can save you a pretty penny. A little closer to the holiday, Amazon provides a counter that tells you when to purchase your item by in order to guarantee it it delivered by Christmas. If you are cutting it close, they even provide gift-wrapping on many items.
7. Consider Homemade Do you have a knack for crafting? A special secret recipe for Grandma’s best cookies? These can make wonderful and heartfelt gifts, and truly do fit any budget. Since Christmas is still twelve weeks away, you’ll have plenty of time to knit up those scarves! I personally plan to try to new craft ideas to save a little money as well.
8.  Get Thrifty–Literally! Thrift shopping has had a real boost in popularity lately (thank you Macklemore!). It is good for the planet, and easy on your bank account. You can find some great name brand items, with a little bit of patience. Sometimes you have to sift through a lot to get to the real gems. Goodwill has you covered, though! Check out where you can bid on high quality items, at thrift shop prices.
9.  Something to Fit the Whole Family You don’t have to always invest in that 60 inch big screen television. Consider a gift that the whole family can enjoy. Memberships to zoos, aquariums, or museums can provide an entire year’s worth of fun for an entire family.
10.  Save Your “Savings “Have you ever noticed that when you leave a grocery store, there is usually a line of the receipt that says how much you saved? Set this money aside every time you shop, and pretty soon you will have a decent little nest-egg that can be used for holiday gifts.
11.  Avoid Gift Cards If you really can’t think of a gift for someone on your list, give cash. This might not be a money saving tip for your, but it will be for the recipient! Companies make a lot of money off of unused gift cards, or the spare couple of dollars that inevitably gets left on them.
12.  Above All–Remember the Reason! Gifts are great fun, for both the giver and the receiver, but we all know that there is a lot more than that to the Holidays. No matter what it is that you celebrate, remember that gifting is only one part of what makes this season really magical! You can always give gifts of the heart, gifts of your time and your presence. Set up “date nights” with your kids, partner, and even extended family members that you don’t often visit. Sometimes that can be the best gift of all.