5 ways to save money for the holidays
1. Cut back on other spending
If a big part of your holiday budget includes gifts, consider how you can scale back on the items you buy between now and the start of the holiday season. Visit a park or check out a cool new museum instead of buying a new toy or game now. There are plenty of ways to treat yourself or your family without breaking the bank before the holidays.
Sometimes, to save for the holidays, you have to think big picture: What can you scale back on now for a bigger result later?
2. Stash just a little cash
You probably know you should be saving for a rainy day, but if you don't have a special fund for holiday treats, now is the time to make one. Even saving $20 a week for gifts can make a big difference in your budget come holiday time. That money can be used to buy things in non-traditional ways, too, like through your local Marketplace listings on Facebook or even garage sales and estate sales, which can have some unique gift items for reasonable prices. Be sure to follow safety guidelines outlined by each of those services though when picking up or buying items from strangers.
3. Cut subscriptions
If there's one place that it's easy to overspend, it is with subscriptions. The truth is that the holiday season can get very busy, and many faithful users of streaming services don't actually use their subscriptions to the fullest. If you already know that November and December are going to be too busy to binge-watch your favorite shows, consider putting your accounts on pause between now and then to save some money. For example, streaming site Hulu lets you put your account on pause for up to three months, at which time your payment method will start being charged again. You keep all your account data, including show history and watch queues, during this inactive time.
Other services you may not use enough to justify paying for include streaming music services, audiobook or ebook providers, digital newspaper subscriptions, or delivery-service memberships.
4. Cut back on eating out
Everyone has to eat, but is it necessary to order in from your favorite takeout place every time? Whether you're a regular fast-food customer, or you like to treat yourself to a sit-down steak dinner every now and again, this is the best time to put those extra purchases aside (at least until the holidays are over).
That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy lunch at your door or a coffee out with friends. What it does mean is that you have to be real about how much things cost and factor in what you're giving up. That fast-food hamburger meal could be keeping you from getting your mom a nice sweater at Christmas. Do the math, stick to your budget, and consider putting that cash saved into an envelope for holiday shopping by making your own meals for a few weeks. This is one of the simpler money-saving ideas to implement, but it will require some changes to your habits.
5. Save by shopping early
If an item isn't expected to be in stock until right around holiday time, you can save money by placing your order now. Books, music albums, and video games with release dates around the holidays may offer discounts for those who order now. Many shops won't charge you until the item ships, but you'll get the lowest price between now and then.
Another way to save is to watch Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for the things you want most. Sale ads come out early, giving you a chance to create a custom shopping list with just the items you want to buy. Just be sure to check the prices against regular pricing, as not all items sold during big sales events are actually deals.
Bottom line: Start saving now for the holidays
With the holidays fast approaching, it's best to start saving up for the holidays as soon as possible. Cut costs where you can on every day, non-holiday spending, and then use those dollars saved to buy your holiday items as soon as you can afford them and, hopefully, at the lowest price of the season.