10 Easy Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season

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christmas presentIf you're feeling the pinch this year, you're not alone. With the struggling economy and high unemployment rate, most of us are watching our sad, sad, empty wallets even closer this season. The gifts, the travel, the feasting -- it all adds up pretty quickly. That's why we gotta keep our eye on the prize, and our bank accounts, and follow some simple tips for saving money during the holidays. So! Here are 10 ways to do so.

  1. Don't wait 'til the last minute to shop. When we procrastinate and find ourselves in a rush, we tend to get flustered, forget our budget, and just buy whatever the hell is closest to our fingertips. Make a list, give yourself four or five hours to get it all done, and head to the mall ASAP. Saving yourself from the Christmas Eve dash will also save you money.
  2. Decorate on the cheap. Yes, fresh garland and a Fraser Fur are nice, fragrant touches, but they can be expensive. Have your kids make some holiday crafts and use those to adorn the house. Also, I find an evergreen scented candle goes a long way when my fake, plastic garland just isn't giving off that all-natural aroma.
  3. Stuff stockings with cheap stuff. No need to go all out with these pre-present time teases. Here are 10 stocking stuffers under $10 that your kids will absolutely adore. And hey, if it doesn't fill up the whole sock, stuff an orange at the bottom. That's what my Santa did growing up.
  4. Combine your shopping trips. There's a lot of driving around you gotta do to get gifts, food, and trees. Save money on gas by doing it all in one go.
  5. Pay cash. The last thing you want in January is holiday debt. Paying cash will ensure you stay on budget and only spend what you can, when you can.
  6. Plan a budget-friendly menu. Watch for sales on food items you'll need to make your feast and try to avoid adding anything to the menu that isn't already on the list. Yeah, sure, a bowl of fancy nuts in the living room would be nice, but it's totally unnecessary, not to mention fattening and appetite-ruining.
  7. Give the gift of time. As a gift, offer to babysit while your friends go out on the town, or donate your cooking skills to make your sister's family a delicious dinner, or walk your neighbor's dog for a week. Why spend money when you can spend time?
  8. Move the holiday. Take advantage of the post-Christmas sales and agree with your spouse that you'll shop for each other's gifts after the holiday.
  9. Save on entertainment. Instead of taking your whole brood to see a movie, search for local holiday light events, or walking tours, or tree-lighting ceremonies that you can all attend for free. 
  10. Remember the spirit of the season. Thoughtful, from the heart presents are always appropriate. Think about who you're buying for, and search sites like Etsy and Pinterest for low-cost or DIY ideas that they'll love.

What are your holiday money-saving tips?


Photo via apparena/Flickr

thrifty solutions, finances, budget finds


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SuzyB... SuzyBarno

How about dont go to the mall to shop. I really feel like I get the same brands for better prices at places like Marshall's, Nordstrom rack and TJ Maxx.

dirti... dirtiekittie

some of my favorite gifts to give on the cheap have been: 

two sided frames with a photo of my kids on one side and a sweet poem / story / one of their drawings on the other for family members (perfect for grandparents!). the frames and prints are pretty cheap from places like walmart, target, etc. 

homemade bath salts / sugar scrubs. you don't have to be a cook OR too creative with these. find recipes online, put them in cute holiday themed containers (big lots is fantastic for those) and share them as gifts. 

get the kids to help you make homemade ornaments to share with friends / classmates. this year my oldest kiddo is going to be making holiday wreaths with puzzle pieces, some paint, glitter and glue. (tons of kids' crafts are also available online, that's where i found the puzzle wreaths).

bake cookies and place them in a mason jar, with the lid secured with christmas ribbon. for an added touch, you can make a 'cookie sheet ornament' with plastic rectangle baby food lids, some paint and a few supplies (also online). these turn out TOO adorable - delicious cookies and a cute ornament for the tree. 

Wendy Hanson

good suggestions - i especially like 6, 8,9,10.

LuVega LuVega

I love SuzyBarno’s suggestion of shopping at stores that are known for having cheaper prices than the malls. This year I took the suggestion of one of my coworkers from DISH where the whole family draws names on Thanksgiving. This way we each only have to buy one gift, but everyone still gets a gift. I’ve already purchased a DISH Sling Adapter for my Uncle Mitch so that he can watch live TV and his DVR recordings while he’s on his business trips. I know he’s always complaining about missing his football when he’s out of state, but there will be no more complaining after Christmas, and it didn’t cost me much at all.

Betwe... BetweenCourses

However, when giving homemade, i think that your gift should be high quality and well thought out... Please dont give me some half assed glitter glued POS and then expect me to hang it in my house. Homemade should be able to be sold for 15$ or so at a craft fair, no crap please, I'd rather you give me the whole $3 you spent on supplies than something that I have to throw out.

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