5 Tips to Save Christmas Cash

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's not even really beginning to look like Christmas around here, but judging by the amount of holiday catalogs stuffed into our mailbox on any given day, the Christmas season is nearly upon us. Indeed, the merriest day of the year is a mere 45 days off. (Gasp, shock, HORROR!!) With Thanksgiving being so late this year, I have a sneaking suspicion that Christmas shopping might get a little hectic this year, so I thought I'd give you a heads up and share some of my favorite ways to make the holiday season easy on you and your wallet.   

1) Ebates. I just discovered Ebates this spring and am wondering where it's been all my life. Basically, it's a cash back online shopping site. Companies contract with Ebates to promote themselves. When you access those companies' online stores through Ebates, you get cash back on your purchase. Every quarter, Ebates pays out the cash back you've earn. We're talking real dollars which are deposited into Paypal, or you can have an old-fashioned check sent to you if that's how you roll. I don't do very much online shopping outside of the holidays, and I've already earned nearly $20.00 using Ebates. My only gripe is that Cabela's is not associated with Ebates, because if they were, Ebates would owe me about a gazillion dollars right about now.  It seriously takes seconds to sign up for Ebates, so what are you waiting for? Sign up!

2) Swagbucks. Swagbucks is another kind of gimmicky website that allows you to earn gift cards buy earning points (aka Swagbucks) on their site. You earn Swagbucks through searching the internet, interacting with the website (participating in polls, viewing advertiser offers, finding codes, etc.), and making online purchases through Swagbucks. If you're the sort of person who is pretty impervious to advertising, it's worth your while to check it out. I haven't spent a dime through Swagbucks, yet have earned more $50 in Amazon gift cards. And who couldn't use some Amazon cash, immaright? Go earn yourself for some Swagbucks.

3) Christmas fund. It's no secret that I'm a little obsessive when it comes to making sure I have enough cash on hand for the holidays. Here's the thing: last year, I started setting aside just $10.00 a week towards a "Christmas fund" to spend on presents and other holiday expenses. And do you know how much money I had on-hand for Christmas stuff last year? Over $500! Now, just imagine if you were setting $15 or $25 a week - whew! Setting up a Christmas fund is a really painless way to make holiday finances go a little smoother and although it's a little late to fully utilize this tip for Christmas '13, it's worth keeping in mind come New Year.

4) Don't buy presents. Not to sound all Scrooge like, but I don't really buy my friends Christmas presents anymore. Unless you're immediate family, fugetaboutit. Over the years, it's just become clear that none of us need another Yankee candle or Bath and Body Works body wash. Our income levels vary significantly, so although it is fun to give and receive presents, we find it much more satisfying (and less stressful!) to enjoy a game night or a nice dinner out together in lieu of a gift exchange. This Christmas, consider spending time with your friends, not money.

5) Shop Cyber Monday sales. It sure is nice that there's a whole day devoted to online holiday discounts, especially if you're like me and think that Black Friday sounds like hell on earth. While I don't do my holiday shopping exclusively on Cyber Monday, I do think it's worth checking out the sales to see if anything you were already (key word here) planning to buy will be on sale. Why pay more for something than you have to, eh? 

6) Bonus: Check up on your credit card. If you earn rewards on your credit card, November is a great time to log in and see where you're sitting with those points. If you can get cash back, you can pocket a little spending change. If the points are redeemable for merchandise or gift cards, see if any of the items might be appropriate for people of your gift list. It's a great, free way to give your Christmas budget a little stretch. 

What are your money saving tips for the holidays?

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