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Discount Diva: With only 13 Fridays until Christmas, some ways to get ahead

Samantha Christmann

Not to sound like Buddy the Elf or anything, but there are only 13 Fridays left until Christmas.

I know, I know. I’m sorry. You haven’t even covered your pool yet and here I am harassing you about the big day. I’m worse than Family Dollar, which has had its Christmas trees on display since August.

But, I promise, if you’re the type of person who is usually running around like a crazy person Dec. 23, you’ll thank me.

If you start taking care of a few things now, chipping away at your Christmas list over time, maybe you’ll actually get to enjoy the holiday season this year instead of spending the preceding weeks road-raging your way to Walmart and swearing at strangers.

Here are a few ways to get ahead:

• Start setting aside money now. The biggest holiday stressors are financial, and the average consumer is expected to spend $419 on holiday spending this year, according to stats from Visa.

Putting away $20 a week will help you avoid $260 in future credit card debt (plus interest!). There’s even time to take on a seasonal job and earn more.

• Use in-store layaway. The terms are far more favorable than those of a credit card and it’s available at more places than it used to be. For the holidays, you can find it at Burlington Coat Factory, GameStop, Kmart, Marshalls, Sears, T.J. Maxx and Walmart.

• Cue the Christmas cards. Start knocking out a few at a time now and you’ll have them in the mailbox the day after Thanksgiving. You can order custom cards with your family’s photo from Walmart for 40 cents apiece (or less for bigger orders).

• The hot toys haven’t sold out yet. Both Target and Amazon have already released their hot toy lists, but there are still plenty of Don’t Step In It board games and Hogwarts Legos to go around.

Get your Pomsies now and you’ll be stress-free in December while other frazzled shoppers are staking out the store delivery trucks at 4 a.m.

• Homemade gifts. Every year, you have the best intentions of making gifts from the heart for the people you love. This year, if you get started, you’ll actually be able to do it.

Get the kids involved and your gifts will be doubly meaningful. Need ideas? Bath bombs are fun to make with little ones, and teens will be great at making those retro, 1970s style macrame plant hangers that are suddenly all the rage again.

• Slow shipping. You can find insane deals online if you’re willing to wait a long time for things to be shipped overseas from Asia. Websites such as Wish and AliExpress offer great prices and a unique selection of things you won’t find everywhere, though quality is notoriously hit or miss.

On Amazon, Prime members can opt for slower shipping and receive credits toward digital purchases. Might as well, you have plenty of time!

Even if you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can still get free shipping on the site if you’re prepared to wait as long as six weeks.

• Lay the groundwork for a more mindful Christmas. You’ve got three months to help your kids understand why presents aren’t everything.

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