Now that it’s November, retailers are bombarding us with holiday advertising. While Christmas is still over 7 weeks away, we’re constantly being reminded that we need to go ahead and spend, spend, spend to be ready for the holidays.
I’m sure I’m not the only one overwhelmed by this. I’ve spent the last few days wondering how I’ll afford gifts for my parents, grandparents, all my siblings and their significant others, my niece and nephews, my boyfriend, and my close friends. It’s enough to make me want to put it off a few more weeks, but instead I’ve been saving as much as possible so by the time I’m doing most of my shopping, I won’t be stressing out about the credit card bill. Here are some of my favorite ways to save.
You’ve heard it a million times, but tossing your spare change into a jar every day adds up. Coinstar machines are free if you transfer your change to a gift card (which you could then give as a gift or use to buy other gifts), but they’ll take 9.8 cents for every dollar if you just want cash (in this case, roll your coins and take them to the bank instead).
Skip the drive-thru coffee or breakfast and make it at home for a few weeks. You could easily pay over $5 for a cup of Starbucks and a muffin, but eating breakfast at home costs a fraction of that each day. Make it at home 3 days per week for the next 6 weeks, you could save about $90. Put that money into your holiday fund.
Take lunch to work instead of eating out. Skipping an $8 lunch twice a week could save you $16 – doing so every day saves a lot more that you could use toward gifts.
Skip the vending machine, and throw the change you’d use into your change jar. Bring a reusable water bottle from home, or if you’re a soda junkie like me, just buy 12-packs at the grocery store. I usually buy store-brand soda for under $3 for 12 cans (it tastes about the same) – the vending machine at work costs $1 per bottle. It’s easy to see how quickly those savings could add up.
Sign up for rewards sites to start saving for gift cards now (see our blog on the best ones). If you do online shopping, do so through a rewards site so your points will increase faster. Another site I like is RecycleBank, where you take pledges to “go green”, read about recycling, and do other small tasks to earn points. In about an hour, I had earned enough for a free one-year subscription to InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, Seventeen, or many more. Great gift ideas!
When I’m low on money, I make a lot of baked goods. Everyone loves homemade cookies and truffles! Use grocery coupons to save even more on ingredients, and you can make delicious goodies for cheap.
Sign up for store emails and take advantage of coupons they send you in the months before the holidays. If you find a great deal during the year, buy it and save it. I do this as much as possible in the several months before the holidays so I don’t have as much to buy all at once in December.
The holidays are hard on your wallet, but these tips will help soften the blow.