As the holiday season approaches, now is the time to figure out how to pay for all those holiday gifts on your list. Honestly, setting aside savings earlier in the year would have been better, but unexpected expenses and life generally can take precedence over saving enough for the holidays.
So, don’t waste time beating up on yourself for not having a holiday gift fund. If you’re in a position where you’re looking at putting holiday gifts on credit cards that you can’t pay off the next month, don’t despair. You may be able to cut back enough on monthly expenses to scrounge up enough to swing paying for holiday gifts without going into debt.
Next year, you’ll do better at saving, but for now, here are six temporary budget cuts to free up more money this holiday season.
1. Buy snacks at the grocery store
It may be tempting to raid the vending machine at the office or stop by a convenience store on the way to work for some snacks. What you might not realize though is that those high prices can eat away at your cash little by little until your bank account is depleted or your credit card balance is out of control.
Instead, stock up on snacks and drinks next time you shop for groceries. When you see how much money you can save, you may even make this a permanent solution for saving money.
Monthly savings: $100 to $200
Find out: How to Make a Holiday Budget
2. Pause subscriptions
You don’t really need all those streaming subscriptions. Chances are, you don’t even use them all regularly. Hit pause on all but one or two streaming services to eliminate that cost for a few months. While you’re at it, take a look at how much you’re paying for music or app subscriptions and temporarily pause some of those too.
Monthly savings: $20 to $100
3. Pause your gym membership
This is a tricky one since working out is a great way to boost immunity and push back the winter blues with feel-good endorphins. If you’re going to be so busy shopping and socializing over the holidays, though, you might not even have time to visit the gym.
Work out with dumbbells at home or follow along with an online group exercise class to stay in shape until your membership resumes.
Monthly savings: $30 to $150
4. Prepare meals at home
We all love going out to lunch and dinner, yet preparing at least some of your meals at home is probably the biggest way to save money each month. So, come up with a plan to make most of your meals at home and take your lunch to work during November and December.
Plan weekly meals around some of the same food items. For example, use a rotisserie chicken (or your own baked chicken) for a meal, chicken salad, and protein for salads.
Monthly savings: $200 to $600
5. Enjoy free entertainment
You may not mind spending $100 to $200 for a ticket to see your favorite artist perform, but there will be plenty of time for those kinds of indulgences later. For now, enjoy the abundance of free holiday concerts, light festivals, and other holiday entertainment. Invite your friends, too. That way, they can also free up more money for gifts.
Monthly savings: $100 to $400
6. Trim your gift list
Do you really need to buy holiday gifts for your coworkers? Nobody likes to be the office cheapskate, however, chances are that they’ll just end up being regifted anyway. Save on this expense and spend the money on gifts for people you actually care about.
If you get sucked into the dreaded Secret Santa gift exchange, take time to shop around for the best deals and sales. You’ll come through on your office holiday obligation, and no one will be the wiser.
Monthly savings: $20 to $100
Why stop with the holidays?
Now that you know how to save money over the holidays, you can take your new money-saving ways into the new year to save every month in 2022. Then take the money you save and build up your emergency fund, pay off debt or save for a big purchase.