Let’s be honest here; it’s not like the holidays come by surprise. Yet every year, we scramble to get the money together to buy gifts. Or worse, we completely blow the holiday budget we spent all year working so hard to maintain and find ourselves in debt.
So if you find yourself ready to start your holiday shopping, but don’t have a holiday saving account funded, we’ve got you. Here are some ways to find money in your regular monthly spending to reallocate to holiday gifts.
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You see, savings challenges pop up at the start of the year, but you can jump in at any time. One idea is to work backward, depositing $52 at the beginning of the year and lowering it by $1 per week. It totals more than $1300! While you can start doing this next month for next year’s shopping the concept can still help you this Christmas.
If you use a lot of cash, you can also decide you’re going to save all your $5 bills (or any amount you choose) into an envelope. Or you can always throw all your spare change in a jar. It won’t equal your bills, but if you don’t need a lot for Christmas gifts, even this small amount of savings and buying gifts with cash can help an overloaded credit card statement.
A lot of us already have our budgets stretched as far as possible. It’s not that Christmas comes by surprise for many people each year, but that they didn’t have the extra money to set aside to save for it. If that sounds like you, don’t let Christmas put yours further behind. Instead, make more money!
The service sector is a great place to look for something that will work around your day job. Depending on your budget, a few shifts a week at a retailer or fast food place might be all you need to stay on budget even with Christmas shopping. Or grab a temporary job from the gig economy.
If you’d like to keep a second job into the new year, the easiest way to make sure you don’t spend that extra money is to have your paychecks from the side job deposited right into your Christmas savings account for next year.
If you have any marketable skills, a side hustle is a great alternative to getting a second job, and you’ll have more control over your time. This could be anything from casual babysitting, yard work, house cleaning, or knocking on your neighbors’ doors with a shovel during a snowstorm.
We aren’t a cash-only society anymore. If you don’t already have a credit card with an excellent rewards program, now’s the time to get one! There’s plenty out there with no annual fees.
No, I’m not suggesting you carry a balance on a credit card. Ever. But, if you pay your card off every month, you can take advantage of these great cashback programs without being charged interest or fees.
The same thing goes for in-store rewards, which many places have now, even the grocery store!
As long as you won’t go on a shopping spree, you can enjoy a sign-up bonus and your first month of cashback on the same statement as your holiday shopping. Next year you’ll have 12 months of cashback or rewards points to apply to your holiday shopping as well!
This one always seems to pop up on money-saving lists, and for a good reason, it works. Most of us have way more things than we need. So why not use that to your advantage? First of all, your house will be decluttered and second, you can earn extra money by selling your old stuff for Christmas gifts.
If you have a lot to sell, consider starting with a garage sale. It’s a way to get rid of the most things with the least amount of effort, including some of those small items you otherwise wouldn’t bother selling.
Another option, especially if you have large or valuable items to sell, is to post them on a local buy and sell group or even your personal social media pages. Unique items, especially vintage items, and collectibles such as Pokemon, can also be sold online with places like Etsy or eBay.
If you’re afraid to sell online, contact local antique stores, pawnshops, or even flea markets and see if someone might be interested in purchasing your valuables.
If you needed an excuse besides your overall health to quit a bad habit, let money be your motivator. Whether it’s something significant like smoking or a seemingly innocent habit like ordering Uber Eats after a long day of work, making that lifestyle change can add up, even in 30 days.
This is another lifestyle change to help you “find” some extra money for Christmas gifts throughout the year. If you’re invited out and have the money in your budget to go, sometimes opt to stay in instead. Then take that money you would have spent and add it to your Christmas savings account.
I know someone who managed to spend $400 over the Christmas holidays this year going out. That might be extreme, but by the time you buy food or drinks out, expensive movie tickets, pay for the gas, and if you’re a parent, hire a babysitter, even one night out can be pretty costly.
Look for free holiday events in your community, enjoy free local and state parks, or when the weather is frightful have a fun family day in playing board games and drinking hot cocoa.
If you’re serious about saving money for Christmas, then sometimes you have to do drastic things. Or, depending on how much you actually watch TV, maybe not so radical.
Either way, most people cutting out cable can save $50-$100 a month. If you’re already a no cable household, take a look at what you do pay for regularly and see if something can be cut.
- Do you use all your streaming services?
- Can you cut your monthly pedicure or spa visit?
- Do you get pizza every Friday?
- Can you cut back your cell phone plan?
These ideas are great but might not be realistic if you have a large Christmas budget to save for and are already busy. The best way to achieve your savings goals is to do many small things that add up over a long period of time. No matter your net worth, these ideas can find you some extra cash that is needed and appreciated at this time of the year.
For example, cutting a $10 a month streaming service doesn’t seem like much, but if you do that, and sell $300 worth of stuff, and side hustles another $400, and cut out one take out meal a month (and put all that in your savings account) you’ll have about $1000 saved!
With a little bit of motivation and discipline, anyone can save money for Christmas gifts. That way, you can not only be a great gift-giver, but you can also enjoy giving those gifts without worrying about the holiday hangover come January.
This post originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.