How To Save Money For Christmas
With Christmas just around the corner, you may be stressing about how you will afford all these new expenses – decorations, parties, travel, groceries, and of course presents. Well, fear not, with these five simple tricks you will be well on your way to saving plenty over the next month!
1 – Cashback Sites
Before you start your Christmas shopping, have a look at these cashback sites. Essentially, you will receive up to 40% (although its normally around 5 – 10%) of your purchase as certain stores back as cash. Yep, you’re literally being paid to do your shopping. Whilst there are more than the following websites, these are by far the best with the highest cashback rates, best support, and most stores. All the following sites are free to signup for!
US Shoppers, by using the links below you will receive a $10 sign-up bonus when you create an account:
For Australian shoppers, there are two primary sites which both provide signup bonuses – Cashrewards a $10 bonus and Shopback $5:
UK residents are in luck too with another two great sites which both provide a £5 signup bonus:
- Whilst still free there is the option for a premium membership. I personally don’t see the benefit since we are trying to save money, but the membership is only £5 a year, and this link will give you a bonus £5 for signing up. It does provide a higher cashback rate at some sites so depending on how you shop may be worth it
Another two sites that offer cash back, but aren’t dedicated solely to that purpose are Swagbucks and Honey.
- Swagbucks is a huge site which will reward you for watching videos, completing surveys, searching the internet, and yes also shopping. You will earn ‘Swagbucks’ (SB) which can be redeemed for a huge range of rewards such as Amazon gift cards, PayPal credit, donations to charity, and even Sweepstake competitions entries just to name a few. 1 Swagbuck = 1 cent. Use the link above or banner below to receive a bonus of 500 Swagbucks ($5)
You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What’s Online at Swagbucks.com
- Honey originally started as a browser extension which looked for the best coupons for websites when shopping online. It still does this, and at selected websites you will earn ‘Gold’ which can be redeemed for popular gift cards
2 – Meal Prep
You may not have heard of this new craze. Don’t worry though, it’s not some crazy new diet. Meal prep revolves around the idea of saving money on groceries and food expenses whilst also eating healthy, nourishing meals.
The trend is particularly popular in the athletic community as it allows you to save both time money, and also count calories if you so desire.
In essence, meal prep is where you prepare a number of meals at the start of the week, and freeze or refrigerate them, allowing you to quickly reheat or microwave them as required. With the average American throwing away around 30% of all the food they purchase, the savings from reducing waste alone can be astronomical.
Not only do you reduce wasted food, but your average workday may just become cheaper. Do you bring lunch every day, or do you spend $10 or maybe $15 dollars for a meal? For around that the same price ($15), you could be preparing lunches for the entire week.
Personally, I cut my grocery bill from around $200 per week to less than $100 by using meal prep for our family.
There are no hard and fast rules, it can really be whatever you want it to be, but there are some simple steps that will make it much easier:
- Find or Buy Some Meal Prep Containers
These containers do not have to be anything flash. They could be old Tupperware containers or even reused takeout containers. Really something that holds food and can be microwaved. As an example here are some popular styles of meal prep containers from Amazon:
- Decide on your meal prep recipes.
I’m not going to dedicate an entire article on an article about saving money to sharing good recipes, but again this step is very open to your personal preferences.
Budget Bytes is by far the best source of cheap, nutritious recipes and I use their recipes even when I’m not meal prepping. They break down the total cost of all recipe and the average cost per serving.
- Set Aside Some Time and Start
Sunday afternoon tends to work well for most people, however, find a time that works well for you and create a habit of it.
As with most things the hardest part is starting. Begin with some smaller recipes and try it for a few days. The change will surprise you
3 – Count your Pennies
No literally, count your pennies. If you find yourself with some spare change lying around find a jar and store it away. Even a month of penny counting can provide a nice little boost come Christmas time.
If you already have a jar of coins check out CoinCalc. It’s a fun little tool to estimate how much they could be worth. Just remember to subtract the weight of the jar!
4 – Adopt New Christmas Traditions
Unfortunately, Christmas how gone from a time to either celebrate the birth of Christ or simply enjoy some time off with friends and family depending on your religious views, to a huge commercialized operation. Whilst the joy of giving is one of the primary causes of this, instead of cramming your house and Christmas tree with as many presents as possible, look at alternatives such as giving small, thoughtful gifts. A gift with intense meaning and thought behind it is far more important than the size or amount of presents you give, and after all isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas.
5 – Look For Bargains and Deals
This may seem like common sense, but there is more to it than simply shopping around.
If you shop online, make use of price comparison websites. These sites compare the prices for the same product so that you don’t have to. Some of the best sites are:
- Google Shopping
- Tracks the price of Amazon products over time so you can see the best time to shop
Whilst finding the best price is great, finding exclusive deals and discounts is even better. There are hundreds of sites posting deals, but the following are some of the best deal aggregators around:
- Reddit’s Subreddit r/Deals
- Crowdsourced deals with the best and most popular voted to the top. Unfortunately, Amazon and eBay deals are not allowed
- Ben’s Bargains
Another great website and browser extension many people don’t know about is Honey. Honey will automatically look for and apply any coupon/discount code that is active before you check out on most popular sites. Some sites also provide a certain percentage of the sale price back in what Honey calls ‘Gold’. 100 Gold = $1 USD