Buying Bargains: How We Will Spend Less But Give More This Christmas

b friday fools

Is buying bargains high on your list of priorities? If not, you may want to reconsider. On Monday I told you I would share with you how my beautiful wife and I are saving money this Christmas.

I also wanted to share with you some of the ways we are bringing in a few extra dollars to offset the unexpected expenses we’ve had in November. We donated more money this month than we budgeted so we thought it was a great idea to put our thinking caps on to earn extra dollars. Too bad I didn’t have my thinking cap on the night I broke that skateboard.

A few weeks ago, my good friend Jeff from My Super Charged Life sponsored a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish foundation. We donated twice to that, and my wild and crazy D.C. friend, J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy, wanted to entertain us all by doing a little lottery experiment/charity project. He spent $100 of his own money on scratch tickets to see how much he would win, while giving any of the winnings to Project Hopeful. Some of J’s readers, including myself pledged to match his winnings, or make a donation to the charity.

Two wonderful causes were able to benefit from it, but the truth is we donated money outside of our November budget. Not something I recommend doing, but it was worth it, so we started thinking of ways we could make extra money to keep from finding ourselves a little short towards the end of the month.

Four Things We Are Doing To Bring In Extra Money Or Save In November

  1. Selling items of our own we no longer need – We simply started looking around the house for items we no longer need, so we can sell them. You could probably do this 4 times a year and make more than $100 each time if you wanted to find an extra $400 a year.
  2. Buying items at SUPER discounts to sell on craigslist or Ebay – I have written about selling on Ebay before. We have been super successful in buying bargains, often way under $10, and selling them for a huge profit.
  3. Searching Ebay for extraordinary deals for Christmas presents – Who needs Black Friday to get a deal? Not us! (Details below)
  4. Looking for side jobs to earn extra – I have been in search of extra ways to earn more money aside from my regular job. I signed up for Elance, and am hoping to win some writing bids there. There are other super secret things I am working on too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Items We Have Sold Or Are Selling

  • Nice Winter Boots – My wife has a few pairs of boots she purchased earlier in the year. Boots sell better in the winter. Originally purchased for $3.00 each at Goodwill.
  • High-end Baby Stroller – This mother of a stroller costs over $700 brand new—we paid $15. Why on Earth would ANYONE spend $700 on a stroller, I don’t know, but they do. Apparently, they have more money than they have common sense—it’s a stroller for crying out loud. It doesn’t clean the house, wash the car, or pick you up from work. Guess what? You still have to push it manually.
  • Baby Bjorn Baby Carriers – My wife found two of these at a yard sale for $1.50 each in like-new condition. We sold one of them for $35 and decided to use the other one.
  • Portable DVD Player – We got two of them one year for Christmas, and honestly should have sold it a long time ago. It SOLD for $40.
  • Palm Treo for Alltel – This phone was given to us by someone when they got a new phone. It is in GREAT condition but we use AT&T.
  • Z-Coil Shoes – Prices for these shoes brand new start at $189. We are hoping to get $65, which is less than they are going for on Ebay. We are selling them on craigslist, if they do not sell there we will do Ebay. (Pssst…they are VERY comfortable but they look kind of weird. It’s got a spring on the heal which is only partially covered up by the shoe.

Just the two items we have already sold make up for the broken skateboard that cost me $60.

Buying Bargains That Make Black Friday Look Like A COMPLETE Waste Of Time

My wife is the bomb when it comes to finding deals like this everywhere. Aside from shopping at Goodwill, she loves yard sales, and most of the stuff below was won at a local auction. STOP paying full price for something you can find for dirt cheap! She looks for specific items, but always runs across items with tags still on them, or they are still in the box.ย  (ALL Christmas presents we buy this way are brand new items—take that Black Friday.)

Retail: $615/Paid: $151

  • Florist Gift CardRetail $25/Paid $1.00. We used this card to buy wife’s parents some flowers to commemorate their 32nd Anniversary.
  • McGrady’s Pub Gift Card for local restaurantRetail $20/Paid $1.00. Will be given to someone for Christmas.
  • Earlysville Market Gift Card for local grocery storeRetail $100/Paid $51. That’s $49 worth of groceries for FREE. We even used $40 of it to buy bottles of wine from local wineries for Christmas gifts.
  • Walgreen’s Gift CardRetail $20/Paid $11. This will come in handy for buying OTC medications for sure.
  • Everyday Cafe Gift CardRetail $50/Paid $35. Who complains about getting $15 worth of free gas? Not us that’s for sure!
  • 4 Lift tickets to Wintergreen Ski ResortRetail $200/Paid $26. Awesome, and by far MY FAVORITE purchase from the auction! This place is like 45 minutes from us, and I plan to take 3 of my friends. They’ve agreed to purchase their lift tickets from me for $15. Not only am I going to be able to go skiing for 10 hours, but I am only going to have to spend the cost of ski rentals, which is $36. If you minus the $19 extra I will receive from my friends, after paying for the cost of the tickets, ($26) I will only be paying $17. Yeah baby!
  • Restaurant.com Gift Cards – Retail $200/Paid $26. I told you my wife rocks! She found these on Ebay and bought two for $13 each after tax. This will come in handy for Christmas gifts for people in other states. You can use these gift cards to buy gift cards for specific participating restaurants.

So not only have we been able to use these purchases to have a little fun, buy groceries, fuel and other household items, we have been able to save a boat load of money on buying Christmas gifts. It also means that we can buy for more people. We generally do not waste a lot of money on buying Christmas presents, except for the children and our parents, but this year we will be able to do MORE WITH LESS. Even less than we actually budgeted to spend for Christmas. The main point of me sharing this with you is because I hope you can see the value in looking around for bargains, instead of just settling for the always expensive and mostly painful, Christmas shopping experience. It’s definitely something for you to think about when you are looking at the still-high sale prices that for some reason,do not seem so cheap after all. Do something different…be weird!

Everything above, is in addition to cutting costs and preparing ourselves for the best, less stressful, Christmas we’ve ever had. I mentioned before that we have paid our mortgage and car insurance through January, and cut back on utility costs any way we could. It’s all about preparation and planning and you can do it too. You should do it too!

Christmas Project Update

I know you do not yet know what it is that I am working on, but I am hoping that it is going to be as big as I imagine it can be. I hate to be constantly mentioning it, without divulging what the project actually is, but I just want to make sure you do not miss out. It’s going to be big, and you are going to love it. I am not going to let you down! Announcement coming soon!

Be sure to subscribe, so that you do not miss this announcement during the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays. As I write this, there are probably hundreds upon hundreds of people camping out in the rain, in order to get that super sale. I have to ask: is it actually worth all of the time and effort it takes to accomplish this goal? My time is so very important to me, so I have to logically conclude that the money I could be saving could be earned by doing something else more important and useful with my time. If you are in line right now, I am not mad at you—I just don’t understand the point. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s Black Friday—stay safe!

About Brad Chaffee

15 Responses to “Buying Bargains: How We Will Spend Less But Give More This Christmas”

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  1. Spend more save more! It’s the American way! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I don’t plan to buy anything!

    HTG!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      LOL! It certainly explains a lot that’s for sure. hahaha!

      Stores here are opening at midnight. Last year there were people camping at 7:30p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Can you imagine what time they will assemble now that some stores are opening so much earlier. 5 years from now stores will be starting the Monday before Christmas. Absurd! I will be staying home then too!

      HTG! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Kelsalynn says:

    What do you mean by a local auction? What kind of auction? Ebay? I’m totally intrigued by the deals you listed above! Holy smokes! Can I marry your wife? ๐Ÿ˜›

    Read comment below about my similar dislike (maybe “hatred” is a better word?) for Black Friday… I don’t even look at the flyers or ads b/c I care THAT LITTLE! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      LOL! Local auctions that my wife somehow found out about. It was advertised kind of like a yard sale would be. Some of the things was open bidding and some of them were called “silent” auctions where whoever wrote down the largest amount won the item. LOL about marrying my wife! ๐Ÿ˜‰ She is pretty great!

      I agree! I HATE Black Friday! http://www.enemyofblackfriday.com will be my next blog. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Tina Fortune says:

    I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about how I stopped allowing others to spend my money. Bargain or not, if I don’t have it in my budget, I’m not spending the money for it. I have a formula for Christmas spending which is to spend $10 per age for my kids. I did this even before I became a single mom of 3. Works well and since they’re 13, 11 and 5, I have a set budget and so do they. Although I will say it was rather funny when I told my son (5) that Santa had a budget to follow…LOL! Great info!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Tina – That’s exactly right. People think that just because there is a bargain on something they should stock up or buy it even if they do not need it. It kind of makes me think about a post I did about why people should not go out and buy a new computer, OR windows 7 just because there was new software. Lots of people did it anyway without realizing that they spent money that wasn’t necessary.

      I absolutely love your gift system for kids. My wife were talking about how we have spent lots of money on Isaac before, he gets so much from everyone else, and just like any kid he loses interest in 70% of what he gets soon after. I may have to borrow that for a future blog. (w/ your permission of course!)

      Dustin – Dude, I love golf! I actually have some free tickets that I have been dying to use. I can go four times for free or invite others to go with me. I’ll probably just take one of my friends and we’ll go twice. Another friend of mine gave them to me for free cuz he won them on the radio but doesn’t play golf. Nice side business!

  4. Great post and good points about how there are easier ways to save/make money than messing with the craziness of Black Friday! I had a side business of sorts going for a while buying golf clubs locally and reselling on Ebay for a nice profit. Unfortunately, the buys seem to be quite seasonal in my area, so I haven’t done much with it for a few months.

  5. I really liked your comparison of retail to what you actually paid. With so many people going crazy over Black Friday sales, it’s hard to explain to them why they’re better off staying at home.

    In the end, retailers are going to have to make money somehow–it’s called Black for a reason.

    Awesome post, and it gave me a lot to think about.

  6. Ken says:

    That yard sale idea works…we came up short on income this next month..we made $100 in a day. Where there’s stuff…there’s a sale! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Ken Kurosawa says:

    I’ve had good luck with finding stuff on eBay, but only if I don’t get into bid wars!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      We definitely avoid those, but we do not buy too many things off of ebay to resell. Usually it’s the Goodwill, or the yard sales that gets us the best deals. now we do shop for ourselves on ebay. You can definitely get some great deals there. Good to hear from you Ken, hope you’re well my friend.

  8. Beckey says:

    I also find that, if there is a book that I must buy for my collection, I will buy it used on Amazon.com or Half.com. Why pay full price? I can sometimes get new releases for $2 and $2 more for shipping, that’s $26.95 (retail for hardcovers) – $4 (my cost) = $22.95 (savings). My boyfriend and I are really getting into cutting costs everywhere we can. We’ve cut back on things but don’t feel like we have because we see our debt going down. We also don’t miss what we don’t own. When there is something we absolutely must have, we save up for it. We currently have our emergency fund in place plus two other funds being built up. One is for a new computer, as mine is dying a slow, painful death, but I have a feeling when we have the money for the computer that I’m going to suggest we sock that entire amount onto one of our remaining credit cards instead. That will be like $1,500 gone from our debt! I love this website! Thanks for helping us go in the right directions.

  9. Abigail says:

    I love getting holiday presents for little or nothing!

    This year, my husband’s PSP was free thanks to a whole lot of saved up Swagbucks. I paid $30 to a guy off Craigslist for several Star Wars paraphenalia, all Darth Maul related. (My guy’s nerdy, but in a slightly evil way.) And at a garage sale, I found a Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game in excellent condition for $10. All the pieces were there and everything in the box looked barely touched.

    I had set a budget of $200 (hubby’s shopping method is very different than mine, so I have to allow more money on his side) so he got $150 to spend on me. Meanwhile, we’re keeping to $10 per parent. It’s been surprisingly easy so far. His mom will be getting a beautiful glass butterfly necklace (her favorite animal) which was only $5. My mom will be getting a $32 spa kit that cost $6.30 thanks to a rewards program through The Body Shop. We just have his dad left to shop for. And, potentially, some close friends of the family (they’re called “uncle” and “aunt”) who take good care of his mom — especially recently when she had to go to the hospital.

    Finally, I sent away for a $25 Visa gift card from MyPoints. I’ll be handing it over to my husband for any last-minute purchases he needs to make for me. (Which is to say, I went to the trouble of making up a list the same day he announced he was done his shopping. So he’s been instructed to take the card and get something off said list. Er, please. Honey. And I love you. Now go.)

    So our total holiday spending will end up between $200-250. Not as low as I would have liked, but pretty good, considering the PSP alone would have been $170.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      haha, great story Abigail! I especially like the part where you will be handing over a $25 gift card for your husband to get you something (at the last minute)!! Do you know us men or what? LOL

      Have a great Christmas!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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