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You’ll see a lot of articles soon on how to save money for Christmas. Most of them will have a nice chart showing how much you’ll need to save each week to have $500 or $1000 in time.
But what if you don’t have a spare $25 or $50 to put away each week?
And you can’t work another 20 hours a week.
There’s gotta be other ways to cull together several hundred dollars in a few months right?
Here are 30 ways that’ll help you to save money for Christmas, and still have time for a few pumpkin spice lattes.
When you need to make sure something’s done every week, sometimes the best thing to do is to automate it.
But in a way that it’s still manageable.
When I found the free app, Digit, I was amazed at how quickly I accumulated $1000 for an emergency fund. And even though Digit is primarily used to to build your emergency fund, it’d work just fine as a Christmas fund.
Here’s my review of Digit, but briefly, all it does is to create an FDIC insured savings account for you that’s connected to your checking account. Then every few days, Digit will move a small amount over to your savings. It’ll never overdraw your account, because it learns your spending patterns.
The key is that it takes saving off your to-do list and automates it. But it does it in a way that you barely notice the transfers. I was able to save $1000 unbelievably fast, so keep Digit in mind as one of your options.
There are plenty of other ways to save money for Christmas… other than getting a raise, working overtime, or even getting a second job.
First, we’ll look for value around us that we can turn into cash. Then we’ll see how to squeeze more money out of the things we do every day. You’d be surprised at how much money we let slip through our fingers each month!
Find Value That’s Already Around You - and Monetize it
If you’ve been living in the same place for several years, or if you have kids, there are probably things around your home that together, are worth hundreds of dollars right now.
Kids outgrow sports equipment very fast. It’ll sit in the garage, the basement or a closet because “someone might use it”. And there it’ll stay, probably until you’re ready to move.
By then, it has little value, you won’t have time to sell it, and it just adds to the mountain of stuff you’ll need to worry about.
Think of a young couple trying to afford athletic equipment for their kids:
- Metal baseball bats are $150 and up.
- Helmets, lacrosse equipment, hockey pads, skates, skis, boots, snowboards are all expensive.
- Have any golf clubs collecting dust?
- What about a canoe or kayak in the yard?
- How about a treadmill you may be using to stack laundry on.
These are all things people would buy immediately.
A few years ago, I bought a great pair of skis with bindings, poles and a bag, all in almost new condition for $80 at a garage sale. A new set would have easily cost $500-$600 in a store.
Have anything like that in your closets?
One thing that’s particularly valuable is Lennox China. I had some place settings and a few serving bowls in their original boxes collecting dust in my attic.
Someone suggested we take them to the Lennox factory warehouse near our home. We were shocked when they totaled the items up at just over $500!
Did your kids watch Disney videos? If they did, and you have a box of them sitting in a closet, you may be sitting on a bundle of cash. VHS tapes from the Disney “Black Diamond” series may be worth hundreds or even several thousand dollars.
Here’s what I see on eBay right now:
- The Aladdin VHS tape selling for $2174.44!
- I see Mulan selling for $300.
- And I see Snow White selling for $1000!
So, check your closets! Or if you see these at a garage sale check ’em out.
While you’re checking your closets, look for any cell phones, tablets, video game consoles, video tapes, CDs, DVDs and even books.
Here’s an easy way to get rid of a pile of it all at once:
- First get your things together.
- Install the free Decluttr app on your iPhone or Android.
- Use Decluttr’s scanning feature to scan the bar code on each item and it’ll give you an instant price. No haggling, no bidding, and no worrying whether the buyer will pay you.
- Once you have a total, Decluttr will generate a free shipping label for you to print.
- Put everything into one box and drop it off. Done! The money will be in your account the day after they receive it.
The prices they pay won’t knock your socks off. You may have paid $12 for a DVD seven years ago which they may offer you fifty cents for. But what would you do with it otherwise? Right now it’s clutter, it’s taking up space, and together with the other stuff, it’ll add to your bank account.
Another option for your books, especially textbooks, is Bookscouter. I had three IT related books that Bookscouter paid me almost $60 for.
Kids outgrow things within a few years. Instead of waiting until they’re worth nothing and tossing them in the garbage, you may as well get some value for them. Because we both know, you’ll probably use this money to get them something else.
How about furniture?
If you have a decent piece of furniture that’s outlived it’s usefulness, why not make some money while someone else gets just what they’re looking for at a great price.
I recently sold the bedroom set that both my kids used for several years each. Two dressers and a crib were just what a young couple was looking for. They didn’t want to spend a few thousand but were thrilled to buy mine for $150.
Do you have a couch, any chairs, or rockers that aren’t being used? New furniture is expensive, and if yours is in decent condition you can sell it through Craigslist and be paid within a day or two.
If you’re selling a piece of furniture, take a few photos of it before you move it out to the garage. It’ll photograph much better in a nice bright room than on a concrete floor surrounded by shovels and rakes.
Save Money for Christmas Through Cash Back Apps
In addition to selling things that have value, one way to add to your PayPal account is by taking advantage of free apps that basically hand you money.
If you shop online and don’t do it through Ebates you’re leaving money on the table. It’s a free app that’s simple to use, and gives you rebates from over 2500 stores without using any kind of coupons
Here’s how you’d use Ebates:
- Let’s say you were going to shop online at Target.
- Just type “Target” into the Ebates search bar and you’ll be brought to Target’s website. You’ll also see the rebate percentage.
- Buy whatever you need, and that percentage of the cost is deposited into your PayPal account. It’s that easy.
By the way, Target does free shipping on orders of $35 or more, or if you do store pickup, which sometimes can be done on the same day.
Plug the leaks in your food budget to save several hundred dollars quickly
The idea of planning your meals each week seemed crazy when I first heard of it.
Who has time for that?
But actually, it’s one of those chores where you spend a little time, to save a lot of money and time.
Here’s how some simple planning reduced our food budget by about $300 a month:
- We eliminated extra trips to the grocery store for “last minute” things. The ones where we’d go in for 2 things and spend $30. I did that several times a month. It’s wasted money and wasted time.
- We cured two situations that prompted us to order take-out… one, were those nights when you can’t find ingredients, and two, after a rough day when you just want the decision to be made.
- We eliminated the need to buy work lunches.
It’s hard to believe, but 15 minutes of planning once a week can help you eat better, healthier meals at a much lower cost.
Two Ways to Trim Your Food Budget
Planning a week of meals doesn’t have to be a sixty-minute project. Have you tried $5 Meal Plan?
When I first heard of it I thought, “why would I spend an additional $5 every month?” Isn’t that contrary to my aim of saving money?
Here’s how $5 Meal Plan saves you money:
- You enter the number of days you need meals for, and it’ll display dozens of complete meals you can make for less than $2/person.
- Just select your meals and it’ll supply you with the directions and a shopping list of ingredients.
- When you’re done selecting, you’ll have one combined list of ingredients for everything you’ll need for your meals.
- Now you’ll shop for groceries once, and there won’t be another minute during the next week that you’ll waste time thinking about what to make, or ordering take-out.
I’m not suggesting you become a hermit and never go out to eat. But eliminating the times you’re doing it out of necessity rather than a planned night out, will save hundreds of dollars.
So $5 Meal Plan can reduce your food budget, but here’s a way to reduce it even further:
The free app, Ibotta is a way to get coupon discounts without the hassle of cutting coupons and bringing them to the store.
When you install it, you’ll see that they publish new discounts on products each week. And a lot of them aren’t brand specific. They may say, “save $0.50 on any brand of bread”.
Here’s how to save money using Ibotta:
- Once you have your shopping list ready, check Ibotta and tap to select the products you’ll be buying that offer a rebate this week.
- When you get home with your groceries, use the app to scan the products you purchased that match the rebates.
- Take a picture of your receipt and hit send. Done! The rebates are sent right to your PayPal account.
So you’ve spent zero time paging through papers looking for coupons, cutting them out and bringing them with you.
Here’s another thing I like about Ibotta:
You can spend your time cutting out traditional coupons, but what happens when you save $15 by using them?
That money just stays in your checking account and is probably swallowed up for some other expense.
But if I’m on a mission to save money for Christmas, or pay down debt, I’d be more inclined to use it for that purpose if it’s deposited separately in my PayPal account.
Saving Money on Things We Buy
One of the easiest ways to save money for Christmas is by reducing the bills we pay during the year. If you’re still paying for cable then you’ve got a golden opportunity to save hundreds of dollars.
There have been updates to some of the popular streaming services – especially Hulu – that make it worthwhile to finally ditch cable.
In the past, streaming services couldn’t deliver local network channels like CBS, NBC and ABC. And their cable news stations weren’t the same up to the minute news – they were pre-recorded clips.
Not anymore. Now streaming services like Hulu can provide local channels and cable news – for a lot cheaper than cable.
You’d need to put a streaming device on your TV, which could cost as little as $30-$45, and is a one-time cost.
We were paying about $45/month just to rent cable boxes – on top of the cable charges!
Have you looked recently at what you’re paying every month to rent cable boxes, remotes and other fees?
Reconsider Your Habits and Daily Schedule
We tend to look for significant expenses to save on, but sometimes our habits over the course of a year could be the real culprit:
- How do you spend weekends? Do you frequent places that tend to suck $20 bills out of your pocket?
- It’s easy to blow $5 to $7 every weekday on lunch.
- Are you writing a big car payment each month? This post details a way to pay cash for a car and plug a huge hole in your budget.
- Do you commute to work every day? Have you considered the option of working from home?
Get Paid for Your Opinion
If our aim is to save money for Christmas without impacting our budget, and without spending time away from home, then paid surveys definitely fit the bill.
It may seem hard to believe someone would pay you to fill out a list of multiple choice questions unless you see it from the marketer’s point of view.
They want to sell as many sneakers or hair products as they can. And they can’t do that unless they’re acutely aware of what buyers prefer.
So their cost of doing business means money in our pocket.
And surveys can be done on your time. While you’re waiting for the kids at soccer practice, on your lunch break, on the couch at night. Whenever.
Here are some of the more popular ones that are very easy to use:
In 2016 Inbox Dollars paid out over 50 million dollars to users. You can earn money by taking standard surveys, but they also feature all sorts of games, like card games, word games, or strategy games and get paid while you play.
Paid Surveys at Home
One of the more flexible earning sites, Swagbucks offers a lot of different ways to earn money.
You can take surveys but you can also watch videos then give your opinion. Or you can search the web and earn because Swagbucks values your search preferences.
You can also earn SB points by making purchases that you’d be making anyway, and then redeem those points for gift cards to major stores like Walmart, Target, Amazon, and Starbucks.
Earn Money with Your Own Blog
Starting a blog won’t make you rich in the next few weeks, but if you’ve ever considering starting one, you’d be amazed how far along you’d come over the course of a few months.
And if you stick with it, it could outearn any of these methods.
Don’t be intimidated by the popular blogs you read. Every one of them knew nothing about blogging at one point, and started from zero.
Many of the popular bloggers freely admit, they still don’t know much about the technical side of it.
The only difference between them and you is, that they started.
Here are the steps to starting your own blog
- You’d buy hosting, which is just a fancy name for renting space on a server where your blog will be stored. It costs about $59 per year, which is probably less than you spend on coffee.
- You’d normally buy a domain name (your blog’s name), but if you host with Bluehost they give you that for free.
- Then you’d download WordPress onto your own computer to write your blog. You don’t need to know coding to use WordPress. You’re just selecting options from a menu. Believe me, if you can write an email, you can write a blog post.
Final Thoughts on the Best Ways to Save Money for Christmas
Remember, big drastic cutbacks aren’t the only way to keep a lot more money in your pocket.
Consider the things you’re storing that haven’t been used in a while. Their value to you may have decreased, but someone would love to have them, and will pay you for it.
Automating your savings is a great way to take a chore off your plate. And honestly, it’s pretty cool to see my Digit balance grow larger every few days.
Implementing some of these steps will not only help you to save money for Christmas, but can continue into the new year, in the way of an emergency fund, retirement savings, or toward a personal goal you might have.
How about you?
Do you plan to try any of these, or have you had good results with other methods?