The Christmas joy is in the air and it smells like angel wishes and sugar plum kisses friends! It's easy to let the magic of this time of year sweep us up, and before we know our finances are off to the North Pole! I tried to make a pun there, but I'm not sure it worked… But you get what I am saying. The holidays are an easy time to let our guard down and make some financial missteps. So today, I'm arming you with all of my money saving hacks to help you this Christmas season!
Before we jump into my money saving tips for Christmas, I want to talk about motivation on your finances! Simply because, you're going to need it with all the “offers” being thrown your way! You see a lot of us start off with great intentions for spending during the holiday season, but then things get going and before we know it, we are telling ourselves, “I'll fix it in the New Year!” So this holiday season, I'd encourage you to give yourself one gift: the gift of financial well being.
Get clear on where you want to be financially and come up with some action steps that will support it. Reading this post and even choosing a handful of tips to follow is a great first step. If one of your financial goals is to improve your credit score, now is a great time to contact the professionals at Lexington Law firm, who are sponsoring this post. They are offering you a free credit repair consultation here if you believe there are inaccurate, unfair, and unsubstantiated negative items on your credit report.
Lexington Law has actually sponsored the entire money saving series I've been bringing you the last few months! Everything from saving money on Christmas, to having a baby, grocery shopping, and so much more! Catch up on the entire money saving series here! This post also contains affiliate links.
39 Money Saving Hacks You Need This Christmas Season
Create a gift giving philosophy and communicate it clearly
Last week I shared all about 13 Hidden Financial Stressors During The Holidays and it should probably come as no surprise that gifts made up two of those stressors. So here's the deal: come up with a gift giving philosophy that resonates with you. This will make it easier to shape your budget and ways you plan on saving money this holiday season.
Personally, I like to get 3-5 really thoughtful gifts for 3-5 people who have made a big impact in my life that year, then for everyone else I do a hybrid of asking them what they want, baking for them, cash, or something I find in a gift guide depending on what I know about them and their gift preferences.
If you don't know what people's gift preferences are this is a great time to open up the conversation. Heck, maybe you even say to some people that you are skipping gifts this year and instead donating to charities in their name. That's a great way to save some money and reduce impulse purchases since you won't be shopping! My friends at Lexington Law also put together this great 10 under $10 holiday gift guide!
Create a budget and a plan
You want to plan two numbers right off the bat here: how much in total are you budgeting for holiday spending? and how many people are you giving gifts to? Once you have those two numbers you can break things down accordingly.
If you're struggling to come up with the total budget number, I'd recommend checking out this post on the 50/20/30 guideline which breaks your budget into a really simple three number budget. Essentially 50% of your monthly budget goes towards needs (rents, utilities, etc.), 20% would go towards financial goals (paying off debt, gifts, etc.), and 30% goes towards lifestyle (all the Christmas parties, decor, entertaining, etc.). For a more in depth run down and some variables in using the 50/20/30 guideline read here!
Lexington Law also suggests giving yourself a cushion when creating your budget to ensure you don't overspend. Read more of their tips to make sure your credit doesn't drop this holiday season here.
Get discounted gift cards
You can find websites online that allow you to purchase other people's gift cards at a discounted rate. You can use these for your own holiday shopping to save some money. On the flip side, you can also purchase discounted gift cards that are sure to make a great gift!
Check social media
Often times, retailers will share promo codes on their social media accounts as a way to entice more people to follow them. It's an excellent way to get an extra discount. My extra tip though: unfollow the account immediately after you've made your purchase. Otherwise you may be tempted to spend more down the road unnecessarily.
Subscribe to store newsletters
Stores also offer discounts for signing up to their newsletters. Many will do flash sales during this time of year. I find this particularly helpful if I have a specific retailer I'm shopping at. Once I snag my item, I unsubscribe. Again, no reason to be tempted unnecessarily once I've made my purchase.
Barter with the retailer support
Like I mentioned, following and subscribing to retailers are a great way to get discount codes, but there is one problem: many will only allow you to use one promo code per transaction. Here's my work around: barter with them. A lot of stores have a chat bottom on the website, or a call number in the footer. Reach out to the retailer and ask to stack your coupons. Be prepared to note you plan to take your business to a competitor selling the same item and why as they will likely say no at first.
Find discount codes online
If you don't want to follow stores on social media or subscribe to their email lists, you can download a Google Chrome extension like Honey, which actually will input whatever store discount codes it's found online for you. I've seen some great results with this over the years!
Set up price alerts
The Google Chrome extension I just mentioned, Honey, also allows you to set up a “price watch” with some retailers and will notify you if the item you're “watching” drops below a certain price. #winning!
Get price adjustments
Many stores will give honor a price drop for items you’ve already purchased within a specific time frame. I use Paribus, which links to your email account and crawls your purchases to notify you of price drops or late deliveries which you can act on to get money back.
Don't shop for yourself
Truth: this is the area that sucks the most money from me in years past. I've set up a pretty good strategy for limited gift giving to others and opt for baked goods for more of the acquaintances in my life. However, since I don't do a ton of gifts for others, I also don't get a ton of gifts myself.
Which is cool, I'd much rather just by myself what I actually want… But I'm not going to lie, I've sometimes used this time to drop my guard, and shop for myself. BUT if you are trying to save money, this is probably going to be one of the biggest rules to stick to and will honestly probably give you some nice breathing room in your budget! Which leads me too…
Beware of holiday scams
Holiday scams can cost people a lot of money. One way to ensure you are making sound financial choices is to do your research. According to Lexington Law, some of the scams people face include: email and social media scams, fake charities, and fake job postings. By avoiding these scams, you can save yourself from costly money mistakes.
Unfollow or mute “influencers”
Okay, before you go unfollowing me or muting me on Instagram hear me out, haha!! First, I don't consider myself an influencer. I consider myself a content creator. Everything I do is to bring you value, not to be a walking infomercial for all the fashion and beauty products “you have to have” that are on sale.
Everything I create fits under a simple umbrella: does it help you save time and money while moving you towards that beautiful vision of the strong and empowered version of yourself in your mind? Because he/she does exist, and I'm all about tips, hacks, and personal development content that'll bring that person forward!
So, the holidays are prime time for spending across America. Which means that many brands know to tap influencers. In other words, the more “influencers” you follow on Instagram, the more ads you are probably seeing. Now this isn't a big deal necessarily, but you can only see a family in adorable matching holiday pj set soooo many times before your will power caves and you decide you need to have them too (#guilty). So here's my helpful little guide for navigating the new “influencer” phenomena in our culture:
Keep following if…
- You truly enjoy the content they create and it brings value to your life in some way
- They have the EXACT same style and price points as you and they really are a fabulous one stop shop for your holiday shopping
- They have brand loyalty. Meaning you've seen them use and talk about the brand in the past and it's clearly authentic
- All they do is tell you how much they loveeee different clothing and beauty products and are always pushing that everything they are featuring is on sale
- Every single post is an ad and sometimes an ad for multiple brands in one!
- It's feels like shopping whiplash/overload!!
- You feel worse about yourself and find yourself comparing their pricey holiday decor to your crafted stuff
- They are constantly switching between brands and you're having a hard time keeping up with if their recommendations are actually valid or if they are being paid to push a product (many of the top “influencers” I follow with 250k+ followers on Instagram do not properly disclose their paid partnerships!)
Again, the fewer influencers you're seeing this time of year, the fewer ads you'll see. So prune your feeds friends!
I am already seeing stuff on super huge sale for Christmas! In fact, if I remember correctly, the best sales happened in November last year!
Stick to a shopping list
Earlier I mentioned outlining a budget and who you were getting gifts for, now it's important to actually come up with a shopping list. People who shop with a list are notoriously more likely to stay on budget.
Skip the Holiday cards
Instead of expensive holiday cards consider a postcard or e-card or skipping them altogether! Holiday cards can get really expensive if you choose to hire a photographer, purchase a pricey design, thick card stock, and then factor in envelopes and stamps.
With that said, if the idea of skipping the holiday cards has you thinking I'm the Grinch, then consider making your own holiday card using Canva, which allows you to upload your photos and design your own, and then you can either e-send it, or find a cheap printing solution to mail out to family and friends. I did our wedding invites like this and used Cat Print as our printer.
Bonus: you can also design your card to be a postcard in Canva so you'd save on envelopes!
Ditch the traditions that no longer resonate
Sometimes we pick up holiday traditions that simply aren't ours or no longer bring us joy. For instance, the holiday card thing. Is it something in line with your environmental values today? Or is it something you continue to do because it's what you've always done since you were a kid?
A lot of traditions passed down to us from previous generations are no longer the most environmentally or fiscally responsible, so do a quick inventory of what's really working for you and what isn't.
Dig through your drawers and pockets
I know everyone thinks about “spring cleaning” but really we should do an end of fall early winter cleaning IMO. It's time to search those drawers, pockets, and cushions for gift cards, checks, or cash that may have disappeared!
Use an RFID protecting wallet
The scammers are out during the holidays and identity theft is a very real concern. Today, identity thieves can actually sit in a mall (or crowded space) with a simple scanner in their bag and actually swipe people's information who are passing by in close enough range. What a nightmare!! Identity theft can put a major damper on your credit score and end up costing you. A simple step you can take to avoid the headache and cost of having your identity stolen is to use an RFID blocking wallet which makes it harder for the scanners to read your information.
Also consider using the Lex OnTrack Identity Theft Protection tool. The Lex OnTrack tool can help you catch fraud on your accounts and will work with you to quickly rectify the situation. It monitors and protects your identity from theft with $1 million in identity theft insurance.
If you've been the victim of identity theft, give the professionals at Lexington Law a call today! They are here to help repair your credit.
Opt to only shop at a few retailers with great return policies
One of my favorite holiday shopping hacks is to simply choose 3-5 stores I plan to shop at and stick to just those. This is particularly helpful if I'm not working off a shopping list. Basically the idea here is simple: you limit your temptations by keeping your blinders on everywhere else. You can also save on shipping if the retailer has a purchase threshold you need met by getting a few gifts from one retailer.
I also recommend choosing retailers with great return policies to make it easier on you if anything happens, or easier on your gift recipient if they don't like it. It's the respectful thing to do.
Sell your stuff
Okay so this isn't a money saving tip exactly, but it is a way to put more money back in your pocket during the holidays. Since you already were cleaning out your drawers and pockets, you may as well do a full sweep on everything you have too. If you haven't touched something since last year, it's time to sell it or donate it.
Personally, I've had amazing success with listing stuff around Thanksgiving on eBay for people who are doing their Christmas shopping. One extra little tip if you do this: try to save the boxes of your stuff. I tend to have the best success with jewelry and purses when they are in the original box or dust bag.
Skip gifts and do experiences
Gifts are not everyone's love language. For many it's quality time. For others, the gift you chose may not align with their values. Offer to skip gifts and watch a holiday movie together, do some crafts or baking, or something else! After all, the holidays are all about joy and bringing people together – not gifts!
Pass on gift-exchanges that aren't essential
A lot of group settings – like work, extra large family gatherings, friend gatherings, etc. – opt to do gift exchanges. Whether that's getting a gift for everyone, or just one gift for a secret santa or white elephant style exchange, these gift exchanges can add up quickly. My recommendation is to limit yourself to only essential gift exchanges. I would consider work or a gathering with family or your closest friends an essential.
However I remember back to my first year blogging where I was in a facebook community group with other bloggers. There was an optional Secret Santa gift swap which I happily signed up for. Only the gifts I got from my Secret Santa were clearly all leftover PR samples. It became clear to me very quickly that the person didn't really take the time to get to know me through my blog or Instagram and I was really disappointed. That wasn't something essential by any means, and certainly wouldn't have impacted my work had I skipped it.
Say no to store credit cards
Holiday shopping can rack up quite the outstanding balance. Like I said at the start of this too, we tend to let our guard down a bit during the holidays. Thus it's easier than ever to say “yes” when you see your balance and the store clerk says, “would you like to save an extra 20% by opening a store credit card today?”
Stay vigilant about saying no to store credit cards. They often come with hefty interest rates if you don't pay them off in full. It's also easier to forget to pay them off in full since it's not something you'll use outside of the store (the expression “out of sight out of mind” is a phrase for a reason). Lastly, my friends at Lexington Law point out that too many hard inquiries will lower your credit score.
DIY your holiday decor
We have this giant blank space on our living room wall where we eventually plan to hang out TV. The empty space was bothering me when it came to holiday decorating so I decided to do a few holiday garlands there… Only when I went to the store most of the garlands started at $10 and some went up all the way to $60!! Instead, I decided to DIY our holiday decor and made a few garlands, most only cost me $2!! Check them all out here!
Thrift your holiday decorations
Thrift stores are a gold mine for the holiday season. Many items can be used exactly as they are, and others just require a little imagination to rework them into your dream holiday decor.
Mother Earth really is the gift that keeps giving. Not only does switching to more earth-friendly products save you money, but when it comes time for the holidays, I find she offers the best holiday decor! Just check out the gifts I wrapped last year using $1 brown paper from the dollar store, some twine I already had, and then finding the rest of the foliage outside or random candy canes:
Shop at the Dollar Store
If it wasn't already obvious from my previous points: I love the dollar store for all things holiday! They really have the best options at the best price points. Make sure to get there early for wrapping paper otherwise you'll only have cartoon animals to choose from! I've found that tape, gift boxes, and other miscellaneous trinkets like holiday headbands are always great finds at the best price here too!
Shop after Christmas for next year
The day after Christmas most retailers will begin dropping prices and keep dropping them until inventory sells out! Some retailers will even drop Christmas items by as much as 80-90%!!
Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fantastic days to shop and save some money on items you were already planning on purchasing. And that's the key: items you were already planning on purchasing. If you go into these days without a game plan, you're far more likely to overspend this holiday season. Most retailers have already released the deals they are going to have on these days, so refer back to your shopping list and make a plan accordingly. Last year, I found better deals online during Black Friday than on Cyber Monday.
Use a rewards credit card
Rewards credit cards are my absolute favorite way to save some money – or earn money back if we are being technical. After all, if it's money we are already planning on spending, we deserve to be rewarded!
Many of the best reward credit cards are a bit more selective on who they accept; meaning you'll probably need a credit score in at least good standing. Make sure you read the fine print before applying for a new credit card. If your credit score isn't where you'd like it to be and you believe there are inaccurate, unfair, or unsubstantiated negative items on your credit report, give Lexington Law a call today for your free credit repair consultation.
Stick to free shipping
Free shipping is a major way to save money. You can achieve this by shopping at retailers who always offer it like Amazon does for it's Prime members (Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial). You can also get a few gifts at one retailer to reach their free shipping threshold. Lastly, 12/15 is free shipping day at participating retailers.
Sell old gift cards
Remember how I said to clean out your pockets and drawers? Well if you found old gift cards that you don't plan on shopping with this season, now is a great time to list them on gift card reseller websites since people are checking them more frequently and they constantly need stock! Yes, you will end up selling it for less than the total value, but that's money back in your pocket that you didn't have otherwise and it's a better plan than forcing yourself to shop at the store because you have a gift card, and then spending more than the gift card balance!
Have a potluck
There was a survey a couple years ago that found the average millennial attends 24 events during the holidays!! If you're planning on hosting one of those events, a great way to save some money is by making it a potluck where everyone brings their own dish.
Make it B.Y.OB
If you don't want to host a potluck Christmas party, you can at the very least make it a bring your own booze party. Not everyone drinks, so this way guests can do whatever they prefer.
Go informal if hosting
Instead of an extravagant formal sit down Christmas Eve dinner, do a tree trimming party! Especially if you have a strong desire to do a potluck, but feel weird about it; an informal gathering is a great way to have it match the vibe you're creating. Bring out board games, set up cozy seating areas, play some music and just have fun. People won't always remember your holiday tablescape, but they will remember how they felt afterwards!People won't always remember your holiday tablescape, but they will remember how they felt afterwards! Click To Tweet
Figure out where to spend holidays
Another major area that breaks the bank during the holidays: Christmas travel. Instead of feeling obligated to fly across the country or burn through tanks of gas driving all over town, figure out where YOU actually want to spend the holidays here.
Plan your travels early
If you do plan on traveling, book as early as possible. Airfare tends to go up as we get closer to your travel date.
Travel on the holiday if you can
One of the best ways to save money on Christmas travel is to travel on Christmas Day. I know that may not be ideal for everyone, but if you're the type looking to go on a Hawaiian vacation instead of home for the holidays, Christmas Day is a great option!
Get an accountability buddy or some other motivator
Like I said at the start of this, motivation is key in giving yourself the gift of financial well being this holiday season. Stay on track with your financial goals by enlisting an accountability buddy to keep you motivated. Another option is to create a rewards system. For instance when creating your holiday spending budget, give yourself a line in the budget for a gift to yourself if you stay on track and hit a specific goal.
If one of your goals is to repair your credit, hiring the professionals at Lexington Law may be the added motivating factor you need. For example, I know I'm far more likely to work out if I'm spending money on a gym membership because I don't want it to go to waste. If I try to do it myself, I tend to fall off track because no one is looking.
Credit impacts so many areas of our life and having poor credit can actually cost you money! Lexington Law is passionate about helping their clients repair their credit. If you've had medical or student debt, a recent divorce or identity theft, or been on military leave you're even more susceptible to inaccurate, unfair, and unsubstantiated negative items on your credit report. Click here to receive your free credit repair consultation with the trusted leaders in credit repair, Lexington Law!
Catch up on the rest of the Money Savings Series here:
SAVE FOR LATER:
List Of 39 Money Saving Hacks You Need This Christmas Season
- Create a gift giving philosophy and communicate it clearly
- Create a budget and a plan
- Get discounted gift cards
- Check social media
- Subscribe to store newsletters
- Find discount codes online
- Barter with retailer support
- Set up price alerts
- Don't shop for yourself
- Beware of holiday scams
- Unfollow or mute “influencers”
- Shop early
- Stick to a shopping list
- Skip the Holiday cards
- Ditch the traditions that no longer resonate
- Dig through your drawers and pockets
- Opt to only shop at a few great retailers with great return policies
- Sell your stuff
- Skip gifts and do experiences
- Pass on gift-exchanges that aren't essential
- Say no to store credit cards
- Get price adjustments
- DIY your decor
- Go thrifting
- Explore nature
- Shop at the Dollar Store
- Shop after Christmas for next year
- Black Friday & Cyber Monday
- Use credit card rewards points
- Stick to free shipping
- Sell old gift cards
- Have a potluck
- Make it B.Y.OB
- Go informal if hosting
- Figure out where to spend holidays
- Plan your travels early
- Travel on the holiday if you can
- Use an RFID protecting wallet
- Get an accountability buddy or some other motivator