6 Christmas Tricks and Gifts on A Low Budget

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. Growing up in Minnesota, I loved being out in the snow and seeing frost on the trees. One of my favorite traditions was going out to a tree farm to get our beautiful Christmas tree.

Even with the beautiful weather, amazing traditions, and fun events, Christmas is one of the most expensive holidays. Depending on your family size, friends, or your co-workers, gifts you want to give start to multiply quickly! In order to help prep you for the holiday, here are some tricks and gift ideas that I’ve used!

Christmas Budget

 

Trick #1 – Ebates. I swear by this website. I had seen commercials about it all the time but never really thought much of it. Then last year around Thanksgiving, a coworker of mine was telling us how she uses Ebates and loves getting money back for her purchases. After I signed up I became hooked. I do a majority of my shopping online anyway and they even offer in-store cash back as well! It’s easy and free to use! Newest additions: Get cashback for Lyft rides and Doordash orders!

Use my code here to get a free $10 to you!

 

Trick #2 – Buy early. It doesn’t seem like much of a trick but trust me it will help you in the long run! I’m not a fan of large crowds, especially at the mall. I dislike being at the mall and avoid it as much as I can. When holiday season rolls around the crowds only get worse. I start my Christmas shopping about mid-November. I start planning who I want to get gifts for and budgeting. I also scope out any deals I can. This includes preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a no-brainer that this is a great time to buy your Christmas presents. Almost everything is on sale and for amazing and unbeatable prices. Want to hear something even better? Pair these sales with Ebates and you’re bound to save the most money and get money back while doing it! Not to mention you’ll have your Christmas shopping done ASAP and take away some holiday stress off your plate. Win-win-win.

Trick #3 – Take online surveys. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again because it’s a great way to earn some fast money! There are many survey website out there and each offer different rewards. Most rewards are gift cards to major retailers(ie Macy’s, Amazon, Target) but other rewards can include airline points, spa gift receipts, and physical possessions. This comes in handy to either give to other people or use to get the gifts.

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Christmas gift #1 – Putting together a holiday bundle from the dollar store. There’s no shame in it! You can find so many great gifts especially around the holiday season. One year for Secret Santa at work, I went to the dollar store and created a cute little Christmas bundle. I took a Christmas mug, some chocolates, a Christmas themed pen, and a small amount gift card to Starbucks and put it in a fun bag. It’s extremely easy, has that wonderful Christmas feeling, and inexpensive!

Christmas gift #2 – Homemade sweets. Food is the best way to someone’s heart! Last holiday season I made so many sweets at home that were good for my low sodium diet. I brought many to work with me and they were gone in a day! I had coworkers requesting I make them again for them. You can get very creative with it too! One recipe I had was for spiced nuts. It took less than an hour to make and they can go in a fun, decorative tin and be given as a gift. Christmas cookies are always a big hit and there are so many different kinds out there. Baking is inexpensive and the fact that they’re homemade brings a warm and special touch to the gift.

Christmas gift #3 – Re-gifting. There are a lot of opinions on whether or not it’s okay to re-gift. I personally don’t see a problem with it as long as you don’t re-gift to the person that originally gave it to you! With all the moves I’ve had in the past several years and now being minimalist, I’ve found plenty of unused or unopened items that had been sitting around doing nothing for months. I knew I was never going to use any of them and there were some items that I knew would make perfect gifts for some people. With this method, not only are you saving money, but you’re also getting rid of clutter from your home. Those gifts deserve to go to a person that will love and cherish them instead of sitting in some corner of your home collecting dust.

 

Hopefully these tricks and tips will help ease some of your holiday stress this season! Keep the conversation going in the comments below!

Saving for my LA Trip

If you’ve been following my Instagram (and if you don’t, you should!) then you know that I was in Los Angeles for a mini vacation! It was my birthday and so my mom and I took a trip to Universal Studios. Now, I’ve lived in California for about six years and I have never been to LA. I figured since we were already going a few days for Universal that we might as well do some sight seeing too!

We spent a total of six days in Los Angeles and, yes, it was a little expensive. So how did I do it? How did I manage to take care of bills, have fun, and not stress about money? Read on to find out!

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Before I begin, I must add that I did not pay for this trip entirely by myself. As I was going with my mom, she helped pay for things too. It was also my birthday trip so I deserved to get spoiled a little!

Travel ~

Airbnb. I’ve been using Airbnb for almost 2 years now and I absolutely love using it for trips! You’ll find it is much cheaper than staying at a hotel and the hosts are so sweet and some will even give great tips and recommendations! The one I booked was only 2 miles from Universal and it was around ~$850 for two people the entire stay. Before you let your jaw drop, understand that this was an amazing price! I did compare to other hotels and found that if we were to stay at one, the cost would be well over $1,100. The other great thing is that I was able to split this up into two payments – one half when I booked and the other half about a week or two before our actual stay. This was perfect because I wasn’t out $850 in one pay period and I was able to save up and be mindful for the next few months before the other half of the payment.

Plane Tickets. For the plane tickets, we used Southwest, my favorite airline. We get alerts emailed to us and they were having a sale going on with cheap ticket pricing. Also you don’t have to pay for checked bags if they’re under 50 pounds – you can’t pass that up!

The last thing we had to do was book a rental car. This was all on my mom as I am not 25 years old and cannot do so.

Lyft. This is a shout out to our awesome Airbnb host! She lives about 2 miles away from Universal. When we checked in with her, she asked if we were planning on going to Universal and if so, if we were planning on driving and parking there. We told her yes and she advised us that we take Lyft instead. From her place, it was $7 or less one way to go to Universal. Parking your own car was upwards of $35/daily. In the end, we totaled out that we used exactly $35 on Lyft to get us to and from Universal (and one night for City Walk). That saved us a whole day of parking and took out any stress of it as well!

Packing ~

I never like to check a bag unless I absolutely have to. I’m also the kind of person to over pack. I’ll bring multiple pairs of everything so that I have it just in case. I’ll pack the fancy outfit…just in case. I get crazy with it. This time, I packed extremely light and only had my carry on. I packed for my trip a shirt for each day, a sweater, two pairs of shorts, one pair of jeans, and three different pairs of shoes. It made packing so much easier and less stressful to do!

But Kait…that doesn’t have anything to do with saving money? Wrong! If you were packing this in a carry on and flying with an airline that doesn’t charge for a bag over a certain weight limit, you just saved yourself some money. You also saved space for yourself if you buy things while on your trip. Imagine if you bought too many things and didn’t have enough space for it all? You’d end up having to buy another bag or small suitcase to make everything fit.

The other thing I did to help save money was to buy empty travel size containers. If you’re like me and use a special shampoo and conditioner, you wanna stick with that and keep it with you on the trip. Most of the time, though, these shampoos and conditioners don’t come in travel sizes. Sure you could buy some other kind but you’re most likely not going to use the whole thing, it then never gets used again, and it goes in the trash. So I buy empty travel size containers and put my shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizer into those bottles. Whatever I don’t use on the trip just goes right back into the original bottle and voilà! Money saved.

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It doesn’t seem like much but doing all of these things helped take so much stress out of my vacation and allow me to have a fun time doing all the things I wanted while I was in Los Angeles!

What are your tips and tricks for when you travel? Comment below!

Minimalist Journey: Storage Cleaning

One step closer!

This last Sunday I went through all my outdoor storage. Our apartment balcony was having work done for three months so it was a relief to finally go out there and clean the area, especially with my new journey!

The timing that I decided to look through my storage was perfect, actually. A few days before, I had scrolled through and read a post about minimalism and decluttering. The person who wrote it was for decluttering but not the full mindset of minimalism. Basically, she was stating that minimalists are all rich people and able to throw out what they want with zero consequence. I continued to read on and her post was giving step by step instructions on how you can be a minimalist when you have a low income. Reading this post I felt a little upset with the author. It seemed that she didn’t have the full grasp of minimalism at all.

Now, living in California, it’s extremely expensive. I have a wonderful job that pays me very well but when a studio apartment alone can be $2,000 here…your check goes FAST. I understood her points that when you have a low income, you can’t always afford to get rid of extra clothes or Tupperware lying around. But remember what I said it my first post about minimalism? There are no rules. Everyone lives different lives and minimalism is what YOU want it to be!

That being said, some of her post did stick with me while I cleaned out my storage. There are some things, depending on you or your situation, that you do need to keep in storage until you’re ready for it. For instance, while cleaning mine, I found a bunch of Tupperware and kitchen pans. I have no use for them right now since I share an apartment with my mother but someday I’ll move out and will need them! So instead of donating them now and having to buy more in the future, it’s more cost effective for me to keep them in storage.

I actually did get rid of a lot of stuff though. I had two plastic bins filled with things from my previous moves so it was definitely time to look through and purge.

Here’s what I got rid of:

  • A set of electronic candles
  • Small cork board
  • Shower curtain
  • Bathroom set(toothbrush holder, glass, and soap dispenser)
  • Shower Curtain Rings
  • Lamp
  • DVD stand
  • DVD player
  • Sweaters
  • Mugs
  • Printer

These were all very easy to toss out. Since moving to this new apartment, I had replaced my shower curtain, bathroom set, rings, and lamp so keeping doubles was not necessary. The rest were other items I just never use or needed so into the donation pile they all went.

It felt so great seeing the outdoor storage room completely organized and decluttered! It’s not an eyesore anymore and it’s so much easier to find everything. Do I miss anything I donated? NOPE. Taking everything to the donation center felt so freeing mentally and physically. I have more space for things that matter and once I move again, I’ll have less to go through and pack!