According to the American Research Group, in 2016 the average American planned to spend $992 on Christmas gifts. Add food, drinks, decor, parties, and extras like wrapping paper and cards, and you can easily see why so many people end up with a giant credit card headache along with their hangover on Jan 1.
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The key to avoiding credit card debt at Chrismas is to plan ahead and prepare to spend. Accept that you will likely get caught up in the Christmas spirit and want to buy gifts and special treats. By preparing for the holidays in advance you can find an extra $1000 in your budget that will help you pay for Christmas in cash!
How to Save $1000 by Christmas
I’m making this plan 12 weeks long, assuming you are starting on 1 Oct but if you can start even earlier, all the better.
To save an extra $1000 by December 23, you only need to come up with an extra $83 dollars a week for 12 weeks.
There are two ways of doing this, either spend less or make more. As time is of the essence, the best thing to do is take a double pronged approach and do both things starting today.
First of all, eliminate all the low hanging fruit that you won’t even notice.
Cut the frivolous spending
One less coffee and muffin each week can save you $5 a week painlessly. Brown bag your lunch every Friday or walk instead of taking the bus.
You can try working with a cash envelope system to keep your spending in check. It’s been proven that we spend more when we use plastic as it doesn’t feel like “real money”.
Cut your grocery bill by $5 a week
Shave $5-10 from your grocery bill by meal planning or using the tips in my post on 30 ways to slash your grocery spending.
$5 a week is a couple of packets of cookies or buying the cheaper no-name brands for few months but in 12 weeks it will have saved you an easy $60.
Another way of cutting your grocery bill is to challenge yourself to only spend a certain amount. Once you reach your limit, you can either put some things back or head to the checkout. No extras!
Save on eating out
- When eating out, pick the cheaper option (EG. appetizer instead of an entree) and drink water instead of soda. There are more restaurant saving tips here – 15 easy ways to save money at restaurants. Potential savings – $5-10 a week
- Eat at home more often and skip one meal out a week. Invite friends over for a potluck or appetizers instead of meeting at a restaurant. Potential savings – $30-50
- Pack snacks from home when going on a day trip or outing with the kid to avoid having to shell out for overpriced treats. Potential savings $10-15
Potential weekly savings – $50+
Time is on your side when it comes to making a little more money for Christmas.
The earlier you start, the more chance of reaching your goals. If you really flex your earning muscle, you can make a lot more than $1000 in 3 months and be well on your way to a debt-free holiday season.
By completing some quick surveys or watching videos, you can easily make enough points for a $25 gift card. That’s a cool $150 to spend on gifts.
I normally pay for the majority of my Christmas gifts with Swagbucks that I have accumulated over the year. It really takes the stress off of the holidays.
If you join Swagbucks through my link you can earn a $10 welcome bonus to get you started.
If you have a lot of time to spare, consider joining some other survey sites for even more gift cards and cash. You can find a complete list on these posts:
US Surveys: 10 Online surveys that pay big
Canadian Surveys: 11 Survey sites for Canadians
Go on a selling spree.
Purge the house ready for the influx of Christmas items and make some cash.
Places to sell your unwanted items for cash:
- Neighborhood Facebook BST groups
- Craiglist, Kijiji or equivalents. Good for large items like furniture.
- Consign your unwanted clothes
- Sell textbooks at used book stores or online at Amazon.com
- If you have a bunch of kids stuff, consider getting a table at a Mom 2 mom sale.
- Host an online garage sale and advertise it on your neighborhood groups
- If the weather is warm enough, hold a yard sale.
Market your skills
If you have a full-time job that is in high demand, consider doing some odd jobs on the side. Plumbers, HVAC technicians, and IT specialists can all make a lot of money by working evenings and weekends on the side.
Skills you can sell for instant cash:
- Handyman/odd jobs – from installing light fixtures to taking junk to the dump.
- Tutoring kids for extra money after school
- Electrician/Plumber – dishwasher installs, toilet repair, leaking taps
- Mechanic – winter tire install (a guy in my neighborhood makes a killing doing this in his driveway every evening in the fall).
- IT specialist – Cell phone screen repair, WIFI set up, trouble shooting.
Get paid for what you do spend
Make you sure to use apps like Checkout 51 when you go grocery shopping. These shopping apps will pay you a cash rebate for purchasing certain items (the list changes every week). You can easily make $20 a month just for doing your regular groceries.
In addition, use Ebates or TopCashBack for your online shopping. They pay a % cash back whenever you make a purchase using their link. You can earn cash back at Amazon, JP Penney, Booking.com and more. I make around $60 a month using these sites.
Snag Special offers and deals
Look for special offers and take advantage of them.
Some insurance companies will give you a free gift card when you request a quote and car dealerships often offer prizes or gift cards when you test-drive their new models.
Another source of gift cards and incentives are banks and credit card companies. My bank (TD) is currently offering a $350 bonus for anyone willing to switch their checking account to them. A competitor is offering iPad minis.
If you are in Canada, check out Tangerine Bank. If you open an account and deposit $100 using my referral key 19759763S1, you will get a $50 bonus – for free! That’s a 50% return.
Tangerine (formerly ING Direct) is one of the easiest banks to work with in Canada and I use them for all my savings needs.
Potential weekly earnings: $50+.
By implementing some of all of these ideas for saving and making some extra cash fast, you will be able to save a cool $1000 by December 23 and start the new year debt-free!
Check out more money saving ideas here:
And more ways to increase your income:
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