How to Save a Last-Minute $1000 By Christmas
Christmas is a little more than two months away. Can you believe it? For some people, the thought of Christmas coming so soon brings anxiety. In a perfect world, we’d save all year round to cover Christmas expenses. But that’s not realistic for most people, including me. The last thing you need on top of work deadlines, family visits, and Christmas shopping is debt from the expenses of the season.
If you haven’t saved up for Christmas yet but really want to spend for it without going into debt, don’t worry! There’s plenty you can do between now and then to put an extra couple hundred dollars or even an extra thousand dollars in your bank account.
Here’s how you can save NOW.
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1 | Sell things in your house
If you have a family and a house, then you probably have years of stuff stored away. You’re likely sitting on a lot of money. You might be surprised at what will sell. I sell clothes and other small household items as a side hustle. I’ve sold a lot of things in my house so I don’t have much left to sell, but I can find a few things just looking around right now. A few things I could sell and my estimates of what I can make from them:
Lounge chair - $25
Cookbooks and household knick-knacks - $25
Clothes & shoes (gently used) - $50
Do you have valuable things you’re not using anymore? A newer model Vitamix, high-end clothing, jewelry, furniture, children’s toys, and sports equipment. You probably have a lot more things and valuable things than I do, so you could make much more than me here.
It does take some hustle to get stuff sold and out of your house. That’s what often keeps people from selling their things. They’d like the money but don’t want to or don’t have the time to do the nitty-gritty work of cleaning items, listing them, selling them, packaging them for shipment, meeting potential buyers, and so forth. Make it easier by selling on your terms:
List items online in your free time.
List on multiple sites like Facebook groups, Craigslist, NextDoor, letgo, or community boards.
Have potential buyers meet you at a place that’s convenient for you like a coffee shop near your home or work. If they’re meeting you at home (to buy furniture or whatnot), have someone else present with you.
Give several possible meeting times that are convenient for you.
Estimated savings: $100
2 | Stop eating out
The amount you save here will vary. It very much depends on how often you eat out currently, the size of your family, and how much you typically spend on meals. My husband and I could easily save $50 a week by eating in. I buy my lunch or a snack at work every week or two. On weekend afternoons, I like to stop at the convenience store and get a drink like coconut water. I could drink only water at all meals and throughout the day. It’s definitely healthier. My husband and I also go out to eat at least once a week on the weekends. We like trying new restaurants and foods we haven’t tried cooking on our own. At $50 per week for the next eight weeks, we could save $400.
Estimated savings: $400
3 | Join a no-spend week or month challenge
Try a no-spend week, a few weeks, or even a whole month to keep that money in your wallet. Last week I got a few emails about activities going on in town. One was for a women’s gathering and another was for a company’s panel discussion. Both were $25 each. I passed on both for the time being because I wanted to save for something more important.
A no-spend month will encourage you to be creative about your entertainment and shopping choices. Instead of spending money on a women’s gathering or a new holiday outfit, you can look for free social meet-ups or wear an outfit you already have in your closet. While it may be a real challenge, you can save some big bucks this way.
Estimated savings: $200
4 | Use cash back sites, apps, coupons, and alternative items
When you do need to buy things like groceries and toiletries, try using cash-back apps and coupons like Ibotta. The amounts you save can be small like $0.50 to $3 a purchase, but it does add up over time.
Another option is to simply not replace something that has run out. You’ll figure out an alternative or do without it. My friend stopped buying soda after she ran out of it. Not only did she save several dollars a week, but she also lost a lot of weight by decreasing her sugar intake. When I ran out of Clinique face cream, I didn’t want to spend $45 on another container of it. I made do with other lotions I had on hand for several weeks before I purchased an inexpensive alternative.
Estimated savings: $50
5 | Skip the gym and pay-per-class workouts
During November and December, you might be busier with family and social events that result in skipping the gym. Some gyms and workout studios allow you to put your membership on vacation hold, which is a good option for these two months. If you attend a studio where you pay by class, try dropping a class a week. At $15-30, those savings add up. If you do want to exercise, you could use a set of weights you have at home or follow an online yoga or Pilates video. Eight classes at $15 each = $120
Estimated savings: $120
6 | Cut out subscriptions
Do you have any unnecessary subscriptions? We have a subscription to Netflix, although my husband is the only one who uses it. We could easily do without it and find our entertainment in other ways. There’s basketball and football on TV almost every day now. We can watch shows for free from TV networks or when visiting friends and family. We can even step away from the TV and spend our time outdoors. It’s not too cold to be outside in the winter in San Francisco.
Netflix costs $7.99 - $13.99 per month depending on which of the three plans you have. The middle plan is $10.99. Two months x $11 = $22. You could save even more if you have other subscriptions you’re able to cancel or downgrade.
Estimated savings: $22
7 | Pick up extra work shifts
I work as a speech therapist at my day job. During the last two months of the year, regular staff therapists go on vacation and coverage is needed for their shifts. Lots of contract companies also look to hire therapists all year around. They’ll take therapists to work per diem or “as needed” for the holiday season. Some companies offer additional pay for work on the holidays as well. Even an extra half day of work here and there will help with holiday savings.
If you really need that extra money to cover your holiday spending, see if extra work is available to you. Some workplaces don’t offer overtime or hourly pay. In that case, you may have to look elsewhere for seasonal work. You can explore online side hustles to earn money from home as well.
Estimated savings: $300
Above I shared several of the ways that I can cut back my spending to save over $1000 by Christmas. I know not everyone wants to take the time to sell the things in their house or work extra hours at the office. You might not even attend a gym or pay for workout classes, so you can’t cut those. But you might have other things that could be stopped or delayed, things like craft hobbies or a trip to the hair salon. The trick is to figuring out what works for you. I’d love to hear the ways that you save for the holidays.
What are some things that you do to save during the holiday season?