Useful Holiday Season Budget Hacks? You might wonder, how does spending any money on gifts and festivities help me save up for early retirement?
Let’s be real. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and pretend life isn’t occurring while we’re trying to save money. Gotta live a little. Get into the spirit, and enjoy the holidays.
That doesn’t mean we go nuts with credit cards. But there are some things we can do to offset to cost of gifts and holiday fun. And none of what I’m about to share offer no real sacrifice at all in terms of impact to health and happiness.
Oh, and I’m not implying you should justify these wonderful hacks to go buy a shitload of gifts for others (or yourself.) Remember to keep things in balance. Yes, your December statements may be a little higher than usual, but that’s okay. Try not to go nuts, and you’ll be just fine.
In the spirit of the season? Great. Now, let’s go put that money to work!
Top 5 Holiday Season Budget Hacks
1.) Stop shopping for clothes at J.Crew, and instead, start shopping on eBay and at consignment shops ($75 -$100/month saved for 2 adults). I got a couple of really nice, (apparently never worn) Banana Republic sweaters on eBay last month for $15 each. Sure beats $80 plus each off the shelf.
2.) Quit paying for crazy-ass data plans for your cell phone service. 1GB per month is more than enough. Further, make sure you’re taking advantage of your employer’s carrier discount, if available. We’re now on Ting and saving big-league. $42 a month for two lines, people!
3.) Switch up your insurance plans (auto and home.) Geico is a good place to start, but an even better option is to find an insurance broker who can find really cheap premiums with package deals. Also make sure your deductibles are $1,000 for auto and $2,500 for home. You don’t really want to make a claim unless it’s a total or near total loss. That’s why it’s called “insurance.” Savings: $125 – $200/month (assumes two cars, one home)
4.) Cut that mop of hair at home, boys! I reckon my receding hairline makes the job easier on my wife, but she does great work with that shaver. I cut my son’s hair and he still shows up handsome as heck in our iCloud albums. Savings: $30 – $50/month. We use the Wahl Color Pro – it’s cheap and works like a champ!
5.) Kick Comcast and Directv to the curb. No one ever regrets not watching enough TV when on their deathbed, and if they thought they would, they’d watch Netflix anyhow. Buy an HD antenna and be impressed with 30 free channels. We use the Mohu Curve and mount that puppy outside the window with a flat coax cable. Better yet, start a reading habit. Savings: $20 – $80/month, depending on your package.
At the low-end you’re saving about $300 a month, or $3,600 a year. That’s a nice trip to Cancun for two, if you’re inclined to work until 65. At the high-end you might be saving up to $500 a month, so let’s call that a trip to Grand Cayman. But again, you might be wiser to pay off those loans or mortgage first, and keep the option to abandon cubicle early.
We do what we can to save money because honestly, it’s depressing to spend gobs of cash during the holidays and then get nailed with the balance statements in January. There’s a few more money saving tips we can share to help you stay jolly and financially viable all at once!
1.) Get a fake tree. Keep that fake tree forever. Never buy a real tree. We used to buy only real trees for Christmas, and we love the scent. Trouble is, that $60 – $80 scent lasted only a few days after you put the thing up. You pay for authenticity, which includes needles, sap, and environmental waste. Sure, plastic trees aren’t much better, but they now use recycled materials.
2.) Don’t go nuts on lights. If you need to put up lights, buy the LED variety. Anymore, that’s all you can find at Target and elsewhere. The trick is to put your lit up indoor try by a window. It shows the world that you’re still festive, without the fuss of hanging lights where you want ice dams to form.
3.) Pretend you’re not home when the neighbor kid stops by to sell Boy Scout Christmas decorations. Man those things aren’t cheap. But they sure look cheap. We’ve been unsuccessful in our attempts at stealth with this one. Wiley kids…
4.) Invest in a NEST. I swear by these things. Don’t let your house get all warmed up when you’re not home. Program your NEST to set back the temp at night so you can have sugarplum dreams all winter long. We’ve shaved about 25% off our gas bill thanks to this handy little smart device.
5.) Give cookies as gifts. Spend some time to bake and make festive treats for friends, neighbors, and colleagues. No need to buy a stack of gift cards, when the effort of making something is more meaningful.
Holiday Budget Hacks Will Save You Big-time Dough!
The key is to get creative. Think about alternatives when you automatically reach for your wallet. Google it, my friends! The main lesson is to enjoy time spent with friends and family during this time of year. Not to go bonkers at the mall. Our family would rather be sledding!
There’s certainly more than just these fine money savers. Challenge yourself, and see what else you can reduce, before you stuff yourself silly (like I plan to) this Thanksgiving. Please share in the comments your favorite holiday budget hacks!