Budgeting · Frugal Living

Save Money on Christmas by shopping Second hand

You and your spouse are finally getting the hang of budgeting your money.

You are working gazelle intense at trying to eliminate your debt and you have cut everything there is.

You never go out to restaurants.

You eat beans and rice every day for lunch.

You cut the cable and ditched the fancy cell phone plan.

Fun money…what’s that?

You haven’t bought new clothes in ages and you buy all your kids clothes from garage sales for a quarter.

You are really excited about all of the progress you’ve been making on your debt snowball and your changed perspective on the importance of Every. Single. Dollar.

So what do you do about Christmas?

You can no longer justify spending so much money on Christmas but have no idea how to lower your costs without disappointing everyone.


Shopping secondhand for Christmas gifts was our solution to slashing our Christmas budget from $1,000 to $100!


Prior to getting intense about paying off our $245,000 of student loan debt, we used to spend around $1,000 for everything related to Christmas (gifts, decorations, extra food to bring to gatherings). From what I can tell that number is pretty normal. Now that we are gazelle intense about paying off our debt we made an intentional decision to spend no more than $100.

Yes, $100 for ALL of Christmas.

That might be simple if you were only buying gifts for your immediate family but we also exchanged gifts with: parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, family grab bag and some love gifts for extended family.

We were already buying gifts for each other and our own children from garage sales so the thought of spending $20 on a family member as much as we love them, no longer fit within our budget.

How have we made $100 work for all of Christmas?

  • Reducing the number of people we shop for
  • Making homemade gifts
  • Shopping secondhand

This post will be about shopping secondhand because it is still summertime which means it is still garage sale season!

Gift ideas when shopping secondhand:

  • Try to find things NEW

    • Very often I have found things NEW at garage sales and whenever I do, I am sure to pick them up. I have found brand new with tags still attached: men’s pajama pants, board games, kids’ art sets, etc.
    • If you can find something that is new with tags or looks new and may fit someone in your gift list, pick it up.
  • Picture frames

    • Picture frames secondhand are usually 0.25 – $1.00 depending upon the size. This is almost always a fail proof gift because who wouldn’t appreciate a thoughtful picture printed out? Buy a frame for every child you have, spray paint them all one color and print pictures of your children to give them to grandparents.
    • You can also paint a picture frame with a bright color of paint (acrylic paint is very cheap at the craft store) and put an inspirational quote for a teen or a favorite character for a kid. The ideas to personalize a picture frame are endless and the cost is very cheap.
  • Look at resale shops

    • Shops like Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, etc often have very nice clothing that can be given as a gift.
    • Giving a name brand sweater that is in perfect condition for $3 can stretch your budget a lot more than buying a brand new sweater for $25.


Being OK with the stigma of giving a used gift.

If you are already gazelle intense about paying off debt you are used to doing things that are not ‘normal’. Most of those things however only involve your immediate family so you can be okay with being weird. Once you decide that you are going to give used gifts you need to be onboard with your spouse about your plan.

More than once I have felt guilty that we couldn’t afford the ‘normal’ Christmas gifts and my husband has been instrumental about reminding me that we are giving the very best gifts that we could afford AT THIS TIME. 

One day we can be more generous with our Christmas giving, but not right now. Right now is our time for getting out of debt. 

As Dave Ramsey says “Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.”

Remember your debt payoff goals.

Dream of your future and be content with being weird so that you can feel the freedom of being debt-free.


Happy Secondhand shopping and please let me know your thoughts! Would you ever consider giving a used gift?

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