It’s ridiculously easy to dig yourself into debt during the holidays. Between meals out, sumptuous feasts and gifts galore, you’ll be whipping out your credit card far too often. We have some less-standard suggestions for saving money this holiday season.
Evaluate Your Subscriptions
Do you have a paid Spotify or Pandora account? It’s easy to forget that those monthly subscriptions add up. Now, we’re not saying that you need to completely ditch music — that would make life boring. But the question is, do you use these services enough to justify the cost? If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, have you checked out their free music selection?
Same goes for Netflix, Hulu, cable & premium channels. Maybe you’re a big Game of Thrones fan, or you need your fix of easily accessible Christmas movies. Try getting only what you’ll actually watch for a month or two, and then cancelling the subscription. Let’s be honest, you’re probably bingeing it anyway. And if you’re traveling too much to make much use of these services? See if you can cancel and sign up again in the new year. Who knows, you might just find that you don’t miss it as much as you thought.
If you’ve been using a paid workout app on your phone, companies are constantly coming out with newer (and free) options. We’re not say to cancel everything, just to a little bit of a check-in.
Stop Clipping Coupons
Yep, you heard us right. It’s true, there are some really fierce couponers out there who have taken this to the next level. Honestly though, unless you have the time and the resources to make it into your main hobby, many people find they’re not saving a ton of cash. Store brand items are often cheaper than name brand, even with a discount. You might find yourself trying to figure out how to use that jar of fancy pasta sauce that you picked up because it was just so cheap. All of a sudden you’re buying ingredients for a meal you never intended and don’t even have space for in your weekly rotation.
Get Ahead of the Entertainment Curve
Your family or friends are likely going to want to get the most out of the holidays with some seasonal outings and meals. Be proactive about planning to attend free events, like holiday lights in a nearby neighborhood or a potluck dinner. Cookie exchanges are festive, and pretty much everyone agrees that the recipe on the back of the package of Toll House chocolate chips is the best.
The key here is to get the excitement brewing instead of having the kids get their hopes up over an expensive train ride. It helps with that feeling of FOMO and disappointment for you, too.
Don’t Buy Gifts
We don’t mean cut down on gifts, or cut back, or reduce spending. We mean a flat-out moratorium on gift buying for a year. You can let everyone in your friend circle and all family members know in advance what the deal is so that there isn’t the awkwardness of unreciprocated gifts. If you have children, they might need to have this broken to them gently (and they’ll likely complain quite a bit) but stand your ground. There are so many more long-term benefits to getting out of debt (or not getting into it in the first place).
Buy the More Expensive One
Have you ever heard the piece of advice to get 3 quotes for a repair and choose the middle one? The idea there is to avoid getting price-gouged or accidentally hiring a low-quality professional. In general, an item that will show wear in looks or performance can really benefit from some real quality assessment in your purchasing process. Sure, the cheap boots cost less, but they only last for a single season (if that). While this option isn’t available to everyone, see if you can choose a single item each year or 6 months to prioritize.
Washing your dishes by hand for an extra few months to save up for a better dishwasher will suck, but you could get years’ more use out of the final product. Taking your clothes to the laundromat one every few weeks may cost quite a bit less than replacing your washer with a poor model in the long run. Basically, the trade off is a difficult time now in favor of less stress in the long run. If you can handle that, future you will thank you.
Remember, that chestnut praline latte is temporary, but financial security is forever(ish).