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Christmas is certainly the most wonderful time of the year. There’s nothing better than spending this time with the people you hold so dear.
Of course, this is also the moment that you all exchange gifts and appreciate each other.
This is when a years’ worth of savings on Christmas shopping, will bring cheer and smiles to all those you love.
Once the January blues kick in, memories of the already-gone festive season are all we’ll be left with to get us through every day of the new year.
With that in mind, how prepared are you for this year’s festivities? It may sound a little far-fetched since we’re just a few days at the start of the new year.
Whether you decide to spend it all on gifts, decoration, charity, or whatever else that suits your fancy, it would be nice to enjoy the fruits of your labor by the end of the year.
As you keep saving up to the big day, you’re shaping your spending habits.
Challenge yourself to lead a frugal lifestyle every day with the aim of making your Christmas more special and memorable this year. Mindful spending
Wondering if you stand a chance to start saving at least $1000 between now and the twenty-fifth of December?
With a goal and a workable strategy, you’ll see for yourself just how rewarding thriftiness can actually be. Here are practical ways to start saving and tip yourself $1,000 (or more) this Christmas:
1. Go a Week Without Spending
Otherwise referred to as a ‘No-spend week’, this is a great way to see how much you can save in just seven days.
Additionally, you can gauge your weekly financial habits and see where you need to make some long-term or short-term cuts.
When you’re on a no-spend week, it’s best if you give priority to inevitable bills such as student loans, car insurance, rent/mortgage and so on.
You can’t afford to be behind schedule on those. What you can do, however, is to pay all your bills ahead of time.
Apart from the unavoidable bills, try hard to avoid spending on shopping, groceries, gasoline or anything else.
Remember, it’s only for a week. Though you may cave a bit by the last day of the week, you’ll learn a lesson or two to survive the next no-spend week.
If it’s your first time to try this, do it only once for the next 30 days. It’s like going on a crash diet, and you suddenly decide to go without eating candy – you’ll cave sooner than you think.
That’s precisely what you’ll want to prevent in this case.
No need to fear the fact of going for a full week without having to swipe your card; it’s all worth it come Christmas day.
2. Cut Out Cable TV
As difficult as it may be, cutting out cable TV is a sure way to set up a personalized savings plan and cut back on some of your monthly costs.
Most of us are so attached to the cable, it may be a little hard to adjust to the wide variety of affordable streaming services.
About 5 million Americans cut the cord on pay TV last year in favor of more affordable alternatives such as online streaming.
A single cable user spends as much as $100 every month on TV bills alone. If you’re one of them, you’re likely to save more than $1200 on an annual basis.
An alternative and less expensive means of watching your favorite shows would be to switch to a web-based platform.
More often than not, you won’t have to part with a huge chunk of your cash for entertainment alone.
Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu are among the most popular streaming services that cost $99, $132 and $96 respectively.
If you were to pay for each of them at once, it would cost you $327 every year, as compared to $875 annually on cable TV.
If you may find web-based streaming to be a burden on your budget still, go ahead and buy an OTA antenna for approximately $50. You can also watch cable TV shows without a specific cable company.
Sling TV has a Blue service that gives you access to live channels like Food Network, Bravo, HGTV, Comedy Central, and FX.
If you were still to try all the above options, it would cost you somewhere around $675 annually, $525 less than satellite or cable alone.
3. Do Away with the Beverages
In place of beverages (wine, coffee, soda, etc.) drink water instead.
Impossible as it may sound, drinking water alone can save you close to $1,100 on coffee, $850 on soda, and $515 on beer – this is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you want to raise $1,000 by Christmas, it’s necessary for you to ask yourself if you really need those alcoholic or sugary beverages.
Learning to take drinking water more frequently is healthier by far and can save you massive amounts of cash. Here are a few ways to kick-start your aqua routine:
Drink Tap Water at Restaurants
Though fast-food restaurants are stocked with sodas and bottled water, there are those that serve their customers tap water; only if they ask for it.
If you frequent restaurants on a daily basis, you can save up to $1,400.
Keep Off the Vending Machine
Rather than inserting a dollar or more every single day into a vending machine to get a bottle of water, carry one from home and fill it with a fountain or tap water whenever it’s empty. Water from home can go a long way in saving you hundreds of dollars by the end of the year.
Replace Soda, Wine or Beer with Water
We know for a fact that water can never offer the same after effects as alcohol. It’s a given too that beer is costlier when having it after dinner than it is during happy hour. Every day after work or school, have a glass or two of drinking water. $5 – $10 becomes a lot of money when it adds up over time.
Carrying around a bottle of water can be very beneficial to you both financially and health-wise. It’s not wrong to have a cup or two of your favorite beverages.
When you know you have a target to meet by the end of the year, you’ll do what it takes to achieve your goal – even if it means having a bottle of water clasped in your hand for the better part of your day.
4. Account for Every Meal
Food wastage is a significant problem in most households today especially if it’s take away. You can only account for every meal once you quit eating out and begin preparing your own meals.
Sometimes, it’s easier said than done. Cooking requires time, creativity and effort.
When you randomly decide to make yourself supper, one thing or another may come up, prompting you to leave your food and tend to the urgent issues.
That’s why it’s essential that you prep and plan for every meal.
As you challenge yourself to set aside something every month, the best place to begin would be at the kitchen.
Try making your life greener by reducing kitchen waste from forgotten leftovers or unused produce and work on different strategies that may be worth your buck. Here is a summary of a few tips you can try out:
- Draft a 7-day template with columns for breakfast, lunch and supper.
- Leave a tick on meals that have already been accounted for; e.g. at a friend’s dinner party.
- Make an appraisal of your pantry and refrigerator. Be sure to buy only the missing essentials.
- Within the columns, fill in meals you’re sure you can cook single-handedly.
- If necessary, include a few meals you’ve never had before.
By doing so, you’ll be saving greatly on this year’s festivities while simultaneously cutting down on food costs.
Meal planning also puts a limit on how much you’re expected to spend at the grocery shop. You may find yourself buying random stuff that will cost you a fortune by the end of your shopping trip.
5. Limit Your Visits to the Mall
New clothes and shoes can really take a toll on your budget. A shirt retailing at $100 or a pair of jeans at $150 isn’t worth your time and money.
For the next six months or so, try to see how far the clothes you have in your wardrobe can stretch.
If they’re more than enough, that means that you’ll not be at the mall for the next couple of weekends to shop.
Assuming you’re a shopaholic and you can’t do without a few tops or hoodies till Christmas, skip the retail stores and go full-on secondhand shopping.
Say, for example, you’ve set your current clothing budget at $150 every month. Purchasing secondhand clothes instead can save you a jaw-dropping $900 by the time the festive season comes knocking.
A perfect way to be conscious of what you own would be to do a closet inventory. Try out all your clothes and make a quick tally of all the types of clothing you own.
Knowing what you have and what you don’t can help you buy only what you need and leave out what you want.
A printable closet cleaning checklist for every Winter and Spring may prove to be very beneficial to you at this point.
Spending less on your clothing is just one of the many steps you can take to save money on clothing, but it also pays off in more ways than one.
6. Sell Stuff You Don’t Need
Still, in relation to the closet checklist, you may find that you own a lot of stuff that you don’t even use anymore.
There’s a way you can turn that ‘trash’ lying around in your closet or anywhere around your house (garage, basement, etc.) into ‘treasure’.
First off, you can have a garage/yard sale to sell unused household items such as kids’ clothes, toys, cooking utensils, shoes, clothes, and so on.
Aside from posting ‘Yard Sale’ signs in your neighborhood, get more exposure by running a newspaper ad and advertising it on Craigslist.
If you don’t have the time to hold a garage/yard sale, gather all your clutter and sell them to consignment shops. Some consignment shops today accept furniture, household goods and appliances.
By selling clothes alone, you can make up to $60. Be sure to learn the rules and regulations of the consignment shop(s) you’ll be selling your stuff to a few days in advance.
You wouldn’t want to be at odds with the management for a breach in the rules and regulations.
Most of them prefer that when you’re selling clothes that you or anybody else in your family doesn’t need anymore, ensure they’re in perfect condition.
Others will require you to book an appointment when bringing your items, while others are merely drop-in.
You can even opt to sell your items online. Sites like eBay, Etsy Poshmark, ThredUp have garnered a following of both buyers and sellers due to the convenience they offer.
Online sales are way better, considering you get to interact and make deals to a fair number of interested parties.
7. Boost Your Sources of Income
In relation to selling your stuff online, there are many things you can do to boost your earnings, especially if the profits from your current job won’t allow you to save something extra.
Today’s gig economy is growing, mostly due to the flexibility that comes along with it. Consider various ways of earning money on the side that you’re perfectly comfortable with.
Side hustling to achieve a particular financial goal takes some – sorry, a lot of creativity.
There are many ways to make money; they could be just simple gigs, full-blown start-ups and everything else in between. If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a summary of legitimate ways to make money:
- Sign up for several survey websites and earn money for every survey you complete.
- Get cashback for every purchase you make when you sign up on Swagbucks, Ibotta and Ebates. You’ll technically be making money by saving money.
- If you’re passionate about writing and connecting with people, you can make well over $17,000 a month by starting your own blog. This needs consistency and patience.
- Offer your web skills to clients in need of it by becoming a web assistant.
- Become a search engine evaluator and provide a comparative analysis of the results a search engine offers and lots of other stuff.
Online jobs are a sure way to make an extra income. They’re a common preference mostly because they require minimal effort. If you’re better off working offline, there are lots of other stuff you can do as well.
If you can handle the pressure of working both online and offline jobs, knock yourself out. Just don’t push yourself too hard.
8. Make a Budget and Stick to It
Unless you know how much money you have and what to spend it on, there’s no way you can save.
To get to $1,000 by Christmas, you’ll need to track your spending and have a plan for every dollar that gets into your account.
Creating a budget at this point would probably the best way to create a plan on where and how to spend your cash.
For obvious reasons, however, saving money and budgeting doesn’t come naturally to some people. Even so, squirreling some cash away and creating a realistic budget is not as complicated as most people make it out to be.
Having a budget in place will help you go easy on your spending habits and reorganize your monthly income. Making a classic budget is not that easy to most people. That’s why there’s the 50-20-30 rule.
This unique approach to budgeting ensures that you use your after-tax income in three proportions: fifty-percent on housing, food and other necessities; twenty-percent on increasing savings and paying the debt; and thirty-percent on whatever needs you may have.
If you feel that you may fall prey to discretionary spending from this budgeting strategy, there are tons of smartphone budget apps you can make use of.
Just link your preferred app to your credit card and checking accounts, then the app will keep track of your spending. You will then receive a monthly report based on the spending category.
The moment you start putting your budget to work, you’ll be in a better position to earn even more than $1,000 before Christmas.
9. Draft a Christmas Savings Plan
The moment you have a budget in place, drafting a plan won’t be a problem. If possible, start by setting aside $89 in 12 weeks (assuming you’re reading this post in January).
After every week, decrease the remaining amount by a dollar till it ultimately goes down to $78.
Starting this plan a little late won’t diminish your chances of raising $1,000, though instead of decreasing it by $1, you’ll have to add $2 or more.
Even though you add in something extra every week and notice that you’re not moving as swiftly as planned, a side-hustle will probably be your last resort.
There’s no need to be frightened at the thought of the hefty amount you’ll have to part with; you may not realize it, but there are some items you buy every day that you don’t need.
These sacrifices will vary significantly from one person to the other.
For example, you can forego your daily dose of Starbucks coffee and make your coffee at home.
Depending on the orders you place at Starbucks, it’s relatively easy to spend anywhere between $5-$10 per visit. Sipping on some homemade coffee on a weekly basis can save you approximately $50 – $200.
This would be a massive addition to your Christmas savings which would, in turn, make reaching your desired goal much swifter. Assess your lifestyle and find out what you can live without and choose to do without it deliberately- at least until Christmas.
You’ll have to sacrifice those minor necessities for the next twelve weeks or so.
Keep in mind that this is a temporary measure you have to take to make your $1,000 goal within reach. Remember nothing good ever comes easy.
10. Consider Automating Your Savings
You stand a greater chance of saving money for the holidays when you automate your savings. Did you know your bank can save you the hustle of collecting vast amounts of money?
Yes, they can, but you’ll have to try to make and save money on your end as well.
Here’s how you get your bank to automate every dollar of your daily/monthly savings: start by setting up an automatic deposit of $250 to your savings each time you get paid. Supposing you get paid once after every two weeks, you would have made $1,000 come Christmas day.
If you wish to get something worthwhile out of your income via automation, consider automating a portion of these savings into minor investments.
This will grow that amount you put in over time. One of the best apps you can use for this is Acorns. It majorly consists of ETF’s for a limited investment of only $5.
With Stash, you can track your retirement, automate your daily/weekly/monthly investment, and tons more.
When you create a free account, you get a bonus of $5 to invest in your desired portfolio. In eight weeks, you would have saved close to or more than $1,000.
Look Forward to a Jolly Christmas
A survey carried out by an American Research Group in 2018 revealed that shoppers in America spent a whopping $983 on Christmas gifts alone.
From the look of things, there’s likely to be inflation on holiday goods this year. How financially prepared are you?
Stand out from the last-minute crowd and make Christmas a major priority as early as now.
By planning and saving early, you’re preparing for the burden and stress that most people are not usually prepared for.
It doesn’t matter when you’re reading this; you can still raise a substantial amount based on how well you implement these tips.
If frugality is not an option for you, focus more on expanding your earning potential, be it through entrepreneurship or investments. You’ll be happy you did as soon as christmas bells start ringing.