7 Tips For Christmas Shopping While Poor

assorted plush toys

Christmas shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Try these 7 tips and save some money when buying gifts this year.

by Kimberly Pangaro

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It wasn’t too long ago, when I was a single mom with two kids needing to go Christmas shopping. But as many single moms will tell you, money is always tight and there’s never enough when Christmas comes around!

While I am not as poor as I once was, I have not let go of my frugal shopping habits. I’ve even gone ahead and taught all four of my daughters how to do it. I figured it would be good for them to know, in case they ever found themselves needing such skills. 

So this year, as part of my “Be a Better Person” goal, I’m sharing my frugal Christmas shopping tips. 

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#1 Estate Sales

Estate sales are a great way to find unique gifts. These sales are often full of the unexpected items, some of which you’d only find at luxury stores. For example, I love authentic and antique tea sets. I know, I know, I’m an old soul on the inside. But, they are hard to find and can be expensive at antique stores. Other items you can find at one of these sales are jewelry, fancy clothes, quality furniture, and a lot more. The trick to estate sales, like at flea markets or car dealerships, is negotiating. If you come across an estate sale that is an auction, only bid if you can afford to.

#2 Any Dollar Store

Dollar stores are a perfect place to shop for stocking stuffers! It doesn’t matter if you have a toddler, school age child, or teen. The dollar store has a ton of great items. For my teens, I’ve always managed to pick up some hair pieces, mirrors, storage containers for their makeup, and candy. Who doesn’t love candy at every age! 

It gets easier to shop for the young ones at a dollar store because these stores also have toys in them. I’ve picked up stretch putty, mini cars, balloons, mock barbie dolls, princess dresses, and so much more! Think you can’t find a present for an adult in one of these stores? Try again… moms love and need tupperware! Mainly because our kids are always forgetting them at school or using them for slime. There’s plenty of hardware items too, for those handy dads out there. 

#3 Outlet Stores on Certain Holidays

This kind of discount shopping requires a bit of planning. Wherever you live, there are definitely some big holidays that have massive discounts. I live in the states, so our major sale holidays are Black Friday, Labor Day, and Fourth of July. Sure, there are other sale days, but none as lucrative as the ones I’ve mentioned. 

Now, here is why planning is needed. Every year, I save the kids’ Christmas lists and whatever I wasn’t able to purchase for them, I make note of. When those sale dates come around in the later months, I head out and purchase those items so when Christmas rolls back around, I now have some gifts that I know for sure they’ll want. 

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#4 Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Burlington Coat Factory

This one really depends on where you live in the world, but if you have either of these stores near you, I highly recommend going to shop there at the end of each season. 

Did you catch that? It is a must to shop for Christmas gifts at the end of each season. Why? 

Because these stores in particular, have a very high turn over rate for products. That means many products that were priced high and didn’t sell, end up on clearance racks with red tags usually marked down, at 40% or 50% off. This is a huge money saver when it comes to buying gifts for everyone and that’s because these stores also house every item from toys to clothing to shoes to decor and so much more! I can tell you from personal experience, I once purchased Christmas gifts for my entire extended family of seven, with only $200! 

#5 Garage Sales

Did you know you could do a search online for garage sales? Google “garage sale finder” and you will find hundreds of websites dedicated to finding these kinds of sales in your area. What I love about garage sales is that you never know what you’re going to find. Many often have unused or lightly used toys that are great gift ideas for kids. You will also find a ton of sports equipment. I once bought a barely used basketball hoop, adult bicycle in darn good condition, and a toy kitchen… all for $80! The deals you can score at one of these is unbelievable and with a little TLC, no one will be the wiser. 

#6 Freecycle.org

This site is fantastic! Again, this one depends on where you live, so you’ll have to do a bit of digging. But, if you end up being able to use this site… hop on it and use it! It’s a completely free service to use. They are a100% grassroots and non-profit organization that helps people find free stuff and helps people gift free stuff. Their mantra is all about reusing and recycling so landfills don’t get all the goodies. 

What I love about this site is that there are so many genuinely kind people on it who are just giving away great items! You can find all sorts of things like couches, paintings, building materials, exercise equipment, sports gear, furniture, gardening stuff, storage containers, clothes, picture frames, etc., and the list continues on and is so long I can’t even list it all here. This is such a great site to check out for Christmas shopping because you can find a hidden gem on here at any point!

#7 Flea Markets

Flea markets are one of my favorites to shop at! If you’re a DIY-er like I am, then the treasure trove of goodies you’ll find in one of these is infinite.

Flea markets have a ton of vendors that sell anything from shampoo to electronics to used clothes and more. While flea markets once had a bad rap, they have gotten trendy again and often offer a great deal of unique gifting ideas that can’t be found on normal store racks. To give you an example of what I mean, my husband loves movies and he is a huge fan of vintage movie posters. A couple of years ago, on one of my usual trips to the local flea market, I came cross some 1930’s framed theater posters. There were three in total and they were in such good condition, I couldn’t just leave them there. The price tags said $25 each but with my masterful negotiation skills, I walked away with all three of them for a whopping 45 bucks! 

The Takeaway

Having money issues doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying Christmas shopping. Having a few tricks up your sleeve can help make the process much smoother. Not to mention, they can also help keep your bank account from going in the negative. So, keep a light heart when shopping for Christmas gifts this year. And have fun!

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