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Are you looking to start saving money for Christmas now? Do the never-ending expenses of Christmas always leave you stressed out? It’s time to take action now to save yourself all that stress down the road.
Christmas can be a very stressful time of year for all people, but I think especially for moms. Generally, we are the ones who do most of the gift shopping, the juggling of the family calendar, the special cooking and gift planning for teachers and those sorts of people, and even the decorating, too. In my home, I am also the one who handles the day in, day out finances, which means that I am the one who also figures out how to pay for all of these special things during the months of November and December.
I have a post here that you can find on how to shop for gifts year round, which is a great read when it comes to taking the stress out of shopping for gifts, but somehow even with this method, added funds always seem to be needed around Christmastime each year.
With this in mind, it is never too early to think about preparing for Christmas now, even in the heat of the summer. Here are 12 easy ways you can save a little extra cash that will grow into a decent reserve you can dip into this holiday season.
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1. Take advantage of cash back programs and websites
Bates. If you don’t know Ebates, you need to know Ebates. I once paid for Christmas entirely using the cash back I earned from Ebates. Using this link here to sign up, which is free, will get you a $10 credit with your first purchase. Pretty sweet! If you shop online anyway, you might as well get paid for it! You can read more about how much I saved on back to school shopping and how the program works in greater detail by reading The Best Way to Do Your Back to School Shopping.
2. Create something you can sell
You don’t really even have to be a creative person these days since crafty things that can meet a need can be found all over Pinterest. They can be picture frames, bath salts using essential oils, or even things like wall art created with pallets. The shabby chic look is so popular these days and although many people love this look, they just don’t have the time to create these things for themselves.
You can sell these things on Craig’s list or by joining a Facebook garage sale group that I referenced in an earlier post today, and from what I understand Etsy is also a great way to sell these things and easy to work with, too.
3. Start making gifts for you to give away in much the same way as the above idea
Homemade gifts are so nice to receive, but they can be very time consuming to make. If you follow me on Pinterest, I have a board designated just to DIY gift ideas. Check it out and get working. Being a few months away from the holiday crunch time means you can take the time to work on these projects now without the stress of getting them done.
4. Find something simple to give up, and then give it up just once or twice a week
Coffee, pop, or a lunch or dinner out, just give it up once or twice and then pocket those savings until the holiday shopping season. Canceling or downgrading cable, again, just until after the holiday season can put a ton of money back in your pocket.
5. Save your change
This is an oldie, but a goodie. Loose change is something that can be annoying at times, and it is something that even I am guilty of throwing around. It gets used, eventually, but instead of just letting it sit on your dresser or collect in the bottom of your purse, collect it in a container or bag until shopping time.
6. Weed out some of your clothes and sell them, setting this money aside, too
If your closet is like mine, there are always things I can weed out. If I am not wearing it, it can benefit me much more to have that money at Christmastime rather than having these clothes collecting dust in my closet. Go through your closet with a discerning eye, again keeping the goal in mind.
7. If you use credit cards (hopefully you are paying them off in full every month) apply for a credit card that offers a cash back option
Then, cash in those savings at Christmastime. I cash in once a year and usually have about $300 coming back. It’s a nice perk and what I consider “found” money.
8. Make sure that you are optimizing any discounts for paying bills in full
Many times, you are charged a fee for being billed on a monthly basis. For example, I get three months free for paying my gym membership once a year, my trash service also changes $5 a month just to send out the bill rather than if I were to pay once a year instead, and my home and auto insurance company does the same thing. Investigate where you can save money in places like these, and then put the difference toward your “Christmas fund.”
9. Speaking of insurance companies, do some shopping around right now
Chances are if you are willing to do your homework, you can find some cheaper options on auto, home, or renters insurance.
10. Look into your health insurance plan
I remember reading that our family’s health insurance offers monetary compensation for going through different screenings or health seminars. It will usually be something that is focused on preventative care, but between my husband and I, we can complete these things and earn up to $500 in our health savings account. With just a time investment, which usually isn’t much, you may be able to pocket a good chunk of change. In my book, $500 is a big deal!
11. Donate plasma
Really. I did it for years. In fact, it is how I helped feed my family for a time. There are health requirements to do so, but if you are given the green light to donate you generally get money deposited into an account to use with a debit card. It’s as good as cash. Most cities have places to donate plasma. The time investment isn’t huge, but oftentimes you can donate up to three times a week. The money you earn through donating plasma can really add up between now and December 25.
12. Take on a few odd jobs
Maybe you can find someone who needs a babysitter for just a few hours a week, maybe you can take in some sewing if you are a seamstress, or maybe you can do some tutoring for a younger student struggling with something you excel in. What about taking on a cleaning job, just one day a week? This is also something that I did for awhile. In fact, there are countless ways that I made ends meet when I needed to. If you are not aware of our financial valley, you can read about it over on Money Saving Mom. Get creative. Examine your skills and market them.
It can be a bit early to start thinking about Christmas, but living frugally generally requires some forethought, and planning for Christmas is essential in maintaining a family budget. Commit to taking on even just a few of these sneaky ways, and you can have a nice Christmas fund this year!