14 Minute Read
We know, it’s a little early to be talking about Christmas. You just got the kids back to school, you still have a tan from vacation, and you aren’t exactly ready to bust out the eggnog and hear carolers singing at your front door. But hear us out! While it might be too early to hang the mistletoe, it’s never too early to start saving money for Christmas.
So, ready or not, start playing your favorite Bing Crosby Christmas tune and curl up with a good cup of peppermint hot cocoa—we’re about to show you 12 easy ways to save $1,000 for Christmas over the next two months. And the best part is, you can still use these tips year-round! Keep in mind these are all just estimates. Depending on your specific situation, you could save a little less (or a lot more)!
12 Ways to Save $1,000 for Christmas! Your Two-Month Plan
1. Downgrade to a skinny cable package.
You don’t need us to tell you that cutting the cable cord completely is the best (and most money-saving) way to go—that’s a given. According to the Leichtman Research Group, most of us pay about $106 per month on TV services.(1) So, if you can cut yourself off cold turkey, go for it!
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But if that feels like too much, then downgrading your cable package to a skinny version might be the best bet. These handy little packages only cost about $50 per month (depending on your provider), so you can shave $100 off your bill in just two months. You’ll still have a decent amount of cable channels to surf at a fraction of the cost.
And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s 2018! That means you don’t need cable to be able to watch TV. Between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Roku, Apple TV, Sling TV, antennas and skinny cable bundles, there are plenty (almost too many) ways to watch your favorite shows without that lofty cable bill.
2. Buy generic brands.
If you’re an avid fan of a certain cereal, snack or yogurt brand, see if you can give the generic brand a try for a little while. Small changes like these can really make the difference when it comes to hitting your Christmas savings goal.
Don’t believe us? Here’s how a simple Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole recipe stacks up when you compare buying generic ingredients versus name-brand ingredients.
|Ingredients||Generic Price||Name-Brand Price|
|Chicken Breast (1 can)||$1.77||$3.99|
|Instant White Rice (1 box)||$1.69||$2.29|
|Cream of Chicken Soup (1 can)||$0.79||$1.50|
|Cream of Celery Soup (1 can)||$0.79||$1.50|
|Cream of Mushroom Soup (1 can)||$0.79||$1.50|
|Frozen Mixed Veggies (1 bag)||$1.00||$1.99|
|Total: $9.62||Total: $17.56|
If you go completely generic for just 10 meals over the course of two months, you cut more than $50 from your grocery bill! Even if you aren’t ready to purchase all generic all the time, buying generic staple items like milk, juice, spices, flour, sugar and produce can help you save. The small changes really do matter!
3. Pack your own lunch.
It’s time to embrace the office microwave and say hello to the leftover life! If your go-to lunch plan is hitting up the drive-thru for a $7 meal, you’re wasting $35 a week right there. Take the cheaper route and pack a healthy lunch for yourself. Save those calories for Christmastime, folks.
If you like to dine at a sit-down restaurant every day with your coworkers, that can easily set you back $70 a week—without even including the tip. Yikes! Swap that for bringing leftovers from home and eating outside in the fresh air. Your wallet is sure to thank you.
What’s the moral of the story? Even if you aren’t going out to eat every single day, you could still save at least $30 (or more!) a week just by packing your lunch. And while that might not seem like a big wad of cash for just one week, that adds up to $120 a month! See ya in the new year, fast-food joints.
4. Use cold water (and less of it).
Here’s a secret: You can wash your clothes in cold water and they’ll still get clean. Shocking, we know. The U.S. Department of Energy says two of the best ways to reduce the amount of energy your home eats up is by using a cooler water temperature and less water. So just changing the temperature setting on your washer could cut each load’s energy use in half!(2)
Did you know the average monthly cost of water for a family of four runs at about $112?(3) If you go hardcore for just two months and cut your water usage in half, you could save over $100—and that’s not as tough to do as it sounds! Cut everyone’s shower time in half, wash your hands for 20 seconds instead of a minute, and turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth.
And while we’re at it, don’t forget about dialing down the temperature on your water heater. But word to the wise—don’t get too temperature-turn-down happy. It isn’t recommended to go below about 120 degrees.
5. Unplug it!
Did you know that just having a power cord plugged into the wall uses up energy? According to EnergyStar, American households waste about $100 each year on electronics that stay plugged in.(4) That’s like being charged for electricity even though you really aren’t using any of it! No thanks. Instead, go on an unplugging spree to make sure you’re not surging through precious dollars.
Make it a habit to be mindful and unplug things like your laptop charger, phone charger, toaster and even coffee maker when they aren’t in use. When it comes to big things like your TV, DVD/Blu-Ray player, or sound system, it can get annoying to unplug each individual device. And who can even reach those tucked away plugs anyway? The solution: Plug it all in to a power strip so you can easily unplug everything in one fell swoop.
But don’t worry about unplugging major appliances like your washing machine. They tend to pack a heavy punch of high voltage. We want you to save a bundle without electrocuting yourself.
Bonus tip: While you’re at it, make sure to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
6. Sell stuff with apps!
Believe it or not, selling all that extra stuff you have laying around can really add up. You probably won’t get a ton of money for Christmas this way, but you might be pleasantly surprised at how much cash you’ll make just getting rid of things you don’t really need.
Gone are the days of taking your gear to a consignment shop or praying your garage sale is a hit. Now you can snap a picture of the item, post it in an app, and sit back and wait for someone to make an offer. It’s as easy as that! Sell your used treasures on sites like OfferUp, Poshmark, decluttr, letgo and Facebook Marketplace.
Of course, you can always have a good, old-fashioned garage sale too.
7. Pause your gym membership.
Think back to last year . . . you had every intention of going to the gym. But once the kids got back to school and the holiday madness started to kick in—how many times did you really go?
The average gym membership costs about $58 a month.(5) If you can pause your membership for eight weeks, that’s an extra $100 toward your Christmas savings! That doesn’t mean you have to forgo your fitness plan though.
While the weather is still nice, take advantage of walking or jogging outdoors in the evenings after work, or team up with a coworker to walk during your lunch break.
Are your nights filled with carting your kids from one practice to another? Use that time to take a walk around the building or field. Or (if you really want to embarrass your kids) try doing some of the drills they’re practicing on the field! Sorry in advance for your high school gym class flashbacks.
Rather stay indoors? YouTube workouts make it easy to stay fit for free. If you’re an avid yogi but can’t bear the high price of going to a yoga studio, check out Yoga With Adrienne. If HIIT action is more your thing (high intensity interval training) try PopSugar Fitness and Tone It Up. Your bulked-up Christmas savings will thank you!
8. Drop the subscriptions.
Are you signed up for a few subscription services? (Honestly, we probably all are). If you drop your Netflix package and curated makeup box for eight weeks, you could save over $30 right there! You can live off of DVDs from the library and basic makeup necessities for a mere eight weeks—trust us.
And what about your meal kit delivery service? Let’s say you’re paying $50 a week for three easy meals, but you only opt to get the delivery every other week. Sure, you think you’re being frugal. But that still adds up to $100 for just one month. If you put it on hold for the next two months and buy basic staples to make multiple meals out of (hello, beans and rice), you could save $200! All because you waved goodbye to your meal kit. It’s time to get your cheap meal ideas from Pinterest or your favorite blogger.
Maybe you’re a book nerd and opted in for Audible to get through your books on the go. It’s handy, sure—but it’s costing you $14.95 a month. Pause your membership for two months and you’ll have $30 to add to your Christmas budget! As an alternative, download Libby or Overdrive and get free e-books that you can read right from your tablet or phone. Or, give the books a break and dive into the wonderful world of podcasts instead.
You probably won’t miss those subscriptions too much anyway. After all, it’s only temporary!
9. Download cash back apps.
Disclaimer: Don’t expect to make your whole wad of $1,000 just through these apps. But after two months, cash back apps can start to add up. Try using shopping reward apps like Ibotta and Receipt Hog, or carpool apps like Hytch and NuRide that give you rewards for carpooling with your buddies.
So, how does it all work? It’s simple. Apps like these offer you rewards or points for doing certain things. Sometimes that’s buying bananas and almond milk (Ibotta), carpooling during peak traffic time (Hytch), or taking your bike to work (NuRide). The amount of points (aka cash) you get from each transaction varies depending on the circumstance. But you can usually expect to earn anywhere from 25 cents to $2 in reward points for things you do.
Keep in mind, most of these apps make you hit a $5 or $10 minimum before you can cash out your rewards. And make sure you aren’t buying things you don’t need just for the points (talk about counterproductive). But if you can get two apps to hit $10 with things you buy or do every day, you’ll have $20 more to your name!
10. Don’t run the air conditioning or heat (when you can).
Depending on where you live, temperatures can be pretty mild in the fall. Why not take advantage of it? On those nice days, see if you can get by without running the air conditioning or heat as much as you can.
If you have a programmable thermostat, adjust it so the AC or heat only runs when you’re actually there. Your house doesn’t have to be the perfect temperature when no one is home to enjoy it!
While you’re at it, keep the blinds closed during the day. Sure, you might feel like a vampire blocking out any shred of light creeping in—but the payoff could be worth it. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 76% of sunlight that hits standard double-pane windows enters to become heat.(6)
If you still want some natural light (and we don’t blame you), open the curtains or blinds that don’t let direct sunlight in.
11. Change your cell phone plan.
You didn’t hear this from us, but there are more cell phone providers out there than just the top three you always hear about. You can get just as good of coverage for far less money too. If you want a quick way to save money for Christmas, it’s worth taking a look around at the other options out there. Research which carriers offer coverage in your area and start comparing their plans to the one you currently use.
If you aren’t ready to change your provider just yet, try cutting back on the minutes or data package you already have. And here’s a bonus tip: Turn off the cellular service for some of your apps, especially the ones that constantly run in the background (they drain your data without you even knowing it). This eats up your data package for no reason and could land you in hot water with costly data overages.
12. Skip the weekly Starbucks run.
Do you treat yourself to a grande iced white chocolate mocha every Friday morning at Starbucks? That might not seem like much, but it still sets you back about $4.45 each week (not including tax). Just think: If you could cut the coffee habit and stash away $5 a week for eight weeks, you’d end up with $40 right there!
We’re not asking you to cut out coffee completely—we’re not heartless. But guess what? You can make your favorite drink at home. Blogger Mom Makes Dinner has a great Starbucks copycat recipe to follow! Just grab 2 tablespoons of white chocolate sauce, 2 tablespoons cold coffee, 1 cup of milk, and some ice. Mix it, top it with whipped cream, and enjoy your coffee while smiling at that extra $5 bill still hanging out in your wallet!
If you can’t bring yourself to stop your coffee trips completely but still want to pay less, here are a few Starbucks hacks you can try:
Order a short espresso for the same amount of caffeine but for less of the cost. Or get a tall cup of classic brew coffee for more caffeine than you’d normally get in a venti latte! And if you can’t part with your favorite iced latte, order a double shot of espresso over ice in a venti-sized cup. Scoot on over to the bar area and add in as much milk and sugar until your heart’s content. Congratulations, you’ve just made yourself an iced latte on the cheap!
Bonus Ideas to Save Even More Money for Christmas
- Have a “no-spend” week
- Trade babysitting services with a friend
- Remove debit card information from websites you frequently shop to avoid the temptation to quickly spend
- Make a grocery list and stick to it
- Keep the optimal pressure in your tires to improve gas mileage
- Shop for groceries on Wednesday—many stores offer sales and discounts for mid-week shoppers
- For every dollar you spend on a nonessential item, put the same amount into savings that day
Make Sure You’re Actually Saving Your Savings
It’s easy to say you’re going to save the money for Christmas and then not physically put aside the money you’ve saved. Instead of letting your money get lost in your bank account (and then spent), be intentional about cashing it out or transferring it over to a separate Christmas savings account.
And remember, the amount you save will depend on how much these things actually cost you over the course of eight weeks. So, your savings could be a little less or even a little bit more.
Start Saving Money For Christmas Now
Sorry for hitting you with all the Christmas cheer before you even had a chance to taste your first pumpkin spice latte of the year! We’ll now return you back to your regularly scheduled autumn programming. Just don’t forget that Christmas is right around the corner. Don’t you want to have $1,000 already saved by the time it gets here?
Don’t let Christmas sneak up on you! Start saving for Christmas NOW with these 12 tips! Our free budgeting app EveryDollar makes it easy to keep track of your savings so you can pay cash for Christmas.