Black Friday –Giving Alternatives to “Box Shopping”

By Amy Hannold

24/7 MOMS Frugal Living Editor

“Black Friday” deals are already in full swing.  Just as Christmas décor hits the shelves earlier and earlier, we no longer have to wait for that one day of the “Best” deals.  “Bah Humbug”, I say.  But, don’t stop reading if you’re a Black Friday enthusiast!   I know I might not convince you to stay home, and away from the stores.  Before you go though, some ideas that will save you money and keep you in a jolly spirit.

“Get Organized, For Now and 2013”:  Several blogs and sites are offering free downloads of holiday organizing forms.  Use one (or more) to help guide you through your holiday tasks and expenses.  The best part of free downloads is that you get to try out different organizing systems.  Once you find the ones you want to use, arrange them into a notebook.  247Moms.com has been and will be posting some of these, other favorites of mine are found at TheThriftyCouple.com and DonnaYoung.org (household planners available in different printing sizes).  Does one particular system work well for you and you see yourself using it in 2013?  You may be able score your 2013 planner a great price before the New Year.

“Be Wary and Bright”:  Keep your wits, list and budget with you when shopping.  In the merchandising mayhem and competition, a “good” deal may not be what you put into it.  Long lines, lesser quality “door buster” merchandise, and big discounts on higher regular prices are ‘Black Friday Pitfalls’.  After you’ve seen the ads, research the product for reviews and other buying options.  The next place to go is to retail websites, in search of “price matching” policies.

Occupy & Entertain with New Traditions:  Steer your family in the direction of giving, sharing, and creating this year.  You’ll find my family at the second-hand stores and playing board games Thanksgiving weekend.  We catch up with our relatives and do projects.  Creative, maintenance or community services in nature, we work together and always have a great time.  Look around your neighborhood, community, church, or school. Find somewhere that your time and talent would be appreciated.  Here’s an idea: add the gift of service to a “progressive dinner” (or dessert tastings) between friends’ homes.  Everyone has a task they need more hands for, help one another! Helpers are rewarded with good food and hosts don’t feel the pressure or expense of a more formal get-together.

“Give of Yourself – Inspire Others”:  When funds are limited, or even when they’re not, think outside of the “store-box” to complete your gift-giving list.  Personally, I can think of a few gifts those around me could give me, and it wouldn’t cost more than their time.  You DO have a skill, better eyesight, two arms…-so, give someone something they really need or want.   Wrap your gift-of-service with optional cookies and/or homemade cards/coupons/certificates.  Gifts of service could lead to all sorts of benefits – a closer neighborhood, for example, – which could come in handy during an emergency.  Best of all, you’ll be creating a valuable legacy and inspiring others to do the same.

E-Reader Books, For Less:  Crystal Paine, known as the “Money Saving Mom” blogger is launching a new site.   “eReaderGirl.com” will offer reviews for and links to free and discounted e-books.  The site is categorized by children or adult, fiction and non-fiction, and Nook or Kindle.  There is also a section for Christmas e-books.  Not yet fully functional, the site is set to launch next week -just in time for waiting-in-line entertainment!

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