The average holiday shopper spends around $600 each year on holiday gifts. For some, that’s an entire month’s rent or mortgage payment. Since holiday shopping isn’t mandatory like paying taxes or health insurance bills, it’s something we can forget to put money aside for. Here are 10 tricks that, done together, could help you put aside $500 by the holidays, so you’re not handing out clearance-bin gifts (perfectly good gifts, but they don’t come with a gift receipt…so the recipient gets tipped off!)
Phone and cable
Your plan is probably broken up into minutes, data and texting. You’re probably not that active in one of these areas. If you’re not using all your minutes, don’t text often or don’t surf the web, lower your plan—you could cut $20 a month. As for your landline, cut it altogether and save $25 to $50 a month.
Be smart about groceries
Check coupon sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCode to find coupons on regular grocery store brands. While you’re at it, choose generic over brand names, and create recipes around the foods that are on sale or in season. If you don’t mind making an extra stop, salvage grocery stores sell dented cans up to 50 percent off.
Most of us assume the price listed is what we absolutely must pay, but that’s just not true. You can haggle on just about anything from taxi fares to hotel rooms, and even your wireless bill. You can haggle on a takeout order if you’re buying for a large group, and you can haggle on clothes in private boutiques.
Take a break from credit cards
If you limit yourself to paying cash, you’ll probably end up spending less because, A) You realize that it is real money you’re handing over when you buy something, and B) You just might not have all the cash on you that you need for that extra drink, sweater or appetizer.
Use your bank’s ATM
You tell yourself it’s just a $3 fee, but if you’re taking out cash once or twice a week, that’s $12 to $24 a month in fees alone. And some ATM’s have even higher fees! Walk the extra two blocks to your bank, or stock up on cash next time you’re there.
Stop drinking bottled water, and anything other than water
As far as hydration goes, you don’t need any beverage besides water. Juices, sodas and even electrolyte sports drinks come with unnecessary ingredients. Skip the juice with your breakfast when eating out, or the soda with your lunch. And as for water on the go, use a reusable bottle, or wait until your destination and ask for a glass—it will be free. You can save up to $100 by Christmas.
Do your own nails
If you’re a regular manicure or pedicure customer, you probably spend around $25 each time and go twice a month. Cutting it out and simply doing your own could save you $50 a month, or nearly $150 by Christmas.
Pack your own lunch
Even if you’ve found a deli near your office where you can get a $5 sandwich, for $5 you could also buy a loaf of bread and a package of deli meat. And there you have your sandwiches for a week. Just get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning and pack a lunch.
Do NOT buy a Halloween costume
Halloween costume prices rise every year it seems, with the average adult costume costing around $50. Swap last year’s costume with a friend, or buy a used one from a thrift store for around $10. Better yet, make your own. You could save $40 to $70 (depending on how into Halloween you are) on your costume.
Buy cheap beer
Even the cheaper brands run between $7 and $9 for a six pack, and if you buy one a week you’re already spending $30 or more a month on beer. But be real: you probably splurge on the $12 six-pack you like, telling yourself, “It’s just $2 a beer! It’s $5 at a bar!” Here’s how to actually save on beer: visit Saveonbrew.com to find the cheapest deals in your area, as well as coupons.
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