8.25.2013

Being a genius at Amazon

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Because I like to worry about things way, way, waaaay in advance (ask me about retirement), I've started thinking about Christmas shopping. You know, in the manner of Totally Normal People.

It's not just because of Christmas--from October through December I've also got GH's birthday, the Tiny Dark Lord's birthday, and both my parents' birthdays. And I will be having a baby somewhere in the beginning of all that. So, you know, it helps me to think Preparedness-type thoughts.

I've already created my Christmas 2013 Budget on Google Drive. (Yes, I live by Google Drive spreadsheets. I've (mostly) stopped adding the words " . . . of Destiny" to the end of every document's title, but in my mind it's still there.) I write out my budget for gifts, decorations & tree, Sub for Santa, etc., and then I keep track of what I actually spend on those things (read: always more than the budgeted amount). It's also a good place to keep a list of gift ideas where no one will accidentally come across it. Since January I've had a small amount each month going automatically into an online "Christmas" savings account, so there is designated money to spend when I find great deals.

But how does one find these great deals, you ask? Yeah, that's where I'd like to be more on top of things & would love to hear your thoughts. I follow Freebies2Deals, which is really good. And I just discovered this thing that probably everyone else already knew about--did you know there are sites that will track items on Amazon for you and alert you when the prices drop? This is genius stuff!

I just scored a birthday gift for GH that way. I went to The Tracktor and entered in the item I was thinking about. It showed me the current price but also displayed the pricing history, which is how I realized that the current low price was, in fact, the lowest (by a lot) that it's ever been. So I grabbed it. Now I don't have to kick myself if/when the price goes back up. Yay!! Then I went in and added a bunch of things to be tracked--toys I'm thinking about for the Dark Lord, Blu-rays on GH's wish list, the prenatal vitamins I like but which have been crazy expensive lately, stuff like that. And so far I've already gotten a couple of notifications & have re-ordered my prenatal vitamins. And now my fetus can breath a sigh of relief on behalf of his bones/fat/whatever he's working on. While he's at it he can feel free to stop head-butting me in the bladder. It's kind of rude.

Here's the thing, though. Has anyone else read Unplug the Christmas Machine? It is great and wonderful and thought-provoking and GH hates it because he loves Christmas excess above all things. (See: one reason why my Christmas budget always gets shot as someone gives me puppy dog eyes at the tree lot in front of the 8-foot Noble Firs).

Anyway.



As I've mentioned before, the book points out that the longer the Christmas shopping season lasts, the more people will spend. That's why we now have snowmen going up as soon as stores take down the 4th of July stuff. And that's the problem I have: How do you early shoppers get yourselves to say "when" and stick to it?

Last year I bought things in advance, felt great about being so ahead of the game, but then as Christmas got closer there was so much time left for me to be all, "Oh, except this! This is even better! So-and-so would love this! I will add this to their presents!" This especially happened with the Dark Lord, who ended up with an absolute shload of crap under the tree, which, when combined with stuff from grandparents, etc., turned out to be way, way more than he needed or was even interested in.

So. Not sure what to do about that, except wait to buy until I absolutely know for sure that I've picked a winner. Maybe for TDL I could do one of those "Three Gift" limits, like "Something to wear, something to read, something to play with," etc. And then when the shopping is done I will stop looking at ads or the Internet or go into stores and will just hunker down and eat lots of those awesome sugar cookies I make.

Or maybe this year I'll be so wrapped up in adjusting to the new baby that I'll just buy Amazon gift cards for absolutely everyone and GH can explain to the Dark Lord on Christmas morning that these cards eventually = toys. That sounds like a decent plan, right?


11 comments:

amelia chesley said... [reply]

i stick with not buying presents and just giving out handmade christmas cards every year. cheap and pointless, perhaps, but it is the thought that counts anyway and it seems like people like the little things....

goddessdivine said... [reply]

I always spend too much at Christmas. There's something about that time of year that makes me want to spoil people. And myself.

I keep an Amazon wishlist and check it frequently (read: daily) and watch prices. It will tell you if the prices have dropped and by what percentage. (Funny how it doesn't tell you how much the prices go up.) When an item hits a price that I'm willing to pay and/or will be the lowest I'm sure I'll ever see it, I snatch it up. It's also helpful when I need to throw stuff in to get my $25 for Free Shipping. Gosh I love Amazon. I get all kinds of crap on there for cheap. Esp books!!

I also subscribe to emails to many of my favorite stores. It's a lot of emails, but I get coupons and discounts and it's a good way to find out when they're having huge sales.

Saving money is the best feeling in the world. (Though, I'm sure I spend more thinking I'm saving more and it's a vicious cycle.)

I like the idea of those tracking websites. May have to try one....

Mrs. Clark said... [reply]

My husband is a Christmas-excess lover too. I never could get him to settle down and do stuff like give to charity and limit the kids' gifts. I gave up, because it was spoiling the season, and I didn't think that was worth it. I do shopping all year long, and I have a gift stash. In October or so I will go through the stash and start wrapping and noting what else I need to buy. And I give my husband a "speak now or forever hold your peace" talk because he seems to wake up a couple weeks before Christmas and want to buy stuff for the kids. And usually I have already bought, wrapped, and sent. Then he gets mad/disappointed. So I make sure he knows what I am doing 'way in advance, and most of the time he is really not interested.

MBC said... [reply]

LOVE Unplug the Christmas Machine. I try to have us have more experiences--seeing lights, taking people cookies, singing carols--than gifts at Christmas. I bought The Bairn's Christmas gift last January--one of those big car garage things. I saw it in a thrift store and grabbed it because it was cheap and in great condition and too old for him at the moment. It's in the basement. I plan to buy him some cars to go in it and that's it. Grandparents can give him stuff but I'm sort of a scrooge about little kids and Christmas gifts. Last year he got nothing from me and Steve and still had a great haul from relatives.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Mrs. Clark, we had something similar happen last year! GH and I hadn't really talked, or maybe I just wasn't listening, and it turned out there were some small things that GH really wanted TDL to have so he ended up going out on Christmas Eve to get them. He tends to be a last-minute shopper.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Amelia, I would never call a beautiful handmade card cheap and pointless!!

Nemesis said... [reply]

Goddess, if you have the Amazon items in your CART (save for later) it will tell you if the price goes up. I think. And yeah, I'm sure that sometimes I spend more once I'm alerted to a good deal bc I would have been just fine not knowing. But I've also been able to save a lot on things I definitely would have had to buy.

Nemesis said... [reply]

MBC, that's so great that you already have the Bairn's present sorted. Last year when I saw all of TDL's presents from Grandparents and people I thought I probably could have just stuffed his stocking and called it good!

Lady Susan said... [reply]

I did not know that you could track prices like that (and see the price history). Thanks for the tip! I try to keep to the three/four gift spiel. I also try to rein in the grandparents too. I just feel overwhelmed by stuff, you know? And it ends up being so fleeting in terms of interest. I want it to be more experiences as well, like MBC said. Also, I like the idea of drawing out the celebration overtime (advent activities, etc.) so that it isn't just a day or two of complete madness.

Elsha said... [reply]

I have SUCH a hard time not going overboard with the kids gifts. I make myself be super strict with the budget, and I try REALLY HARD to stop thinking about/looking at kids stuff after I'm done buying for them.

Bebe McGooch said... [reply]

The worst are all the crazy Amazon sales during the month of December! I went overboard last year with Christmas and Charlie's birthday. I bought a lot of things well in advance, and then BING! There were so deals of the day and what have you, it seemed like I made a mistake buying so much in advance.

I need to start thinking about Christmas. Thanks for this post! We've been so busy house hunting, but now that we have a house, I can focus on Christmas and birthdays. Problem is my husband does not want to give the kids anything. He hates presents. He'd rather I give them cardboard boxes and call it good. :( And being we will be house poor this year, no fun spending this time around.

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