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Have you started planning the holidays yet? You should be! If the store aisles filled with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas décor haven’t kicked you into gear yet, let me be the one to do so.
Every year I am asked the secret to my holiday organizations and planning, and the answer is my holiday binder.
What is a holiday binder? It’s the mobile command center that will get you through the holiday season with the least amount of stress and the most savings. All you need to get started is a 3-ring binder, plastic inserts, and tabbed dividers. Here’s a breakdown of the sections you need and how each can maximize your holiday season:
Watch Jeanette share the secrets to her holiday binder on the Hallmark Channel
The budget is the most important part of the holiday binder. Think of every expense that the holidays incur. Not just the presents and food but the wrapping paper, gas to grandma’s house, and new dress for the company holiday party. Figure out how much you’re able and willing to spend on the holidays and divvy it up accordingly. Keep your budget up-to-date throughout the holiday season so if you are overspending you have time to readjust before it’s too late.
Stumped on getting started on your budget? We’ve got you covered with a step-by-step guide to building your holiday budget.
Keep a gift log with every person you plan to shop for. Have an area where you can jot down gift ideas and how much you’d ideally like to spend. Then have a section where you write down what you actually bought and how much it cost. Include 3 columns you can check off as you go when the present is bought, wrapped and delivered.
Start planning holiday menus now and keep a grocery list of all the items you can buy in advance. Start snagging up items when you see a great price or coupon. Think of everything you’ll need from sugar for baking to champagne for mimosas, in addition to the standard fare like turkey and cranberry sauce. You may also want to stash the current week’s grocery ads in this section.
Behind your menus and shopping list should live a stash of coupons that can help save on all your holiday food. Buy a pack of plastic coupon pocket binder inserts (styles designed for baseball cards works great, too). Store coupons by section like baking, dairy and meat.
Keep an insert here where you can stash all of the retailer coupons that will start to appear in your mail and your inbox. Keep in mind that many offers are now available on your phone. You may want to make note of any mobile offers you plan to use.
Download the Coupons.com mobile app for easy access to hundreds of online and in-store offers!
Rebates are a great way to save money but so many rebates go unredeemed. Fortunately, more stores are turning to instant rebates. For traditional rebates, keep a log of open rebates and note any deadlines and when the money has been received. Keep copies of any materials you mailed in.
This is another valuable savings tool that often goes unused. If an item is on sale but out of stock, you can usually get a rain check. That means you get the sales price when the item is back in stock, even if the sale is over. If you planned to buy multiple of the item ask if that can be noted on the rain check.
We all have so many loyalty cards, it’s enough to make our wallet explode. So we have a tendency to take them out, put them in a junk drawer and not use them. Avoid this problem by keeping cards in your binder. Business card inserts work great for storing them.
This is more than just a place to mark down your social events. It’s also a savings calendar. Include big sales at your favorite stores, free shipping deadlines, and expiration dates for cash coupons like Kohl’s Cash. Create personal deadlines for yourself, like when you want to be 50% done with gift shopping and when you want all the gifts wrapped.
Keep a 3-ring pencil pouch stocked with pencil, highlighter, calculator, small scissors and any other tools you might need to make your holiday savings possible.