If you’re anything like me, holidays tend to sneak up on us. I love holidays. I love the thought of planning them out, but implementing those plans never seems to work out so well. The last few years have become more and more hectic around here as I’ve taken on more responsibilities. That means that holidays are usually thrown together at the last-minute. I don’t think we even finished decorating the whole tree last Christmas! (That weird spot in the back just stayed bare.) Sure, I do enough so that my kids have a great holiday but I know I’m capable of doing more.
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One of the things I need to work on is saving for Christmas so that we don’t put it on our credit cards. There are people out there who save all year for Christmas. I’m not at that point yet but I am getting a head start on saving for the holidays this year. Luckily we still have 8 weeks until Christmas; plenty of time to save up some dough. I’ve worked out a system for saving $1,000 dollars by December 17th. It involves some side hustle hacks that I’ll explain below. I also created a free Christmas savings printable that you can download. Just grab it in the box at the bottom of this post. You can adjust it to fit your time frame and amount you want to save.
In order to have $1,000 by December 17th we’ll need to save $125 a week for 14 weeks. That’s a hefty price tag for me. I certainty don’t have an extra 125 bucks floating around every week.
If you can spare that amount every week then you’re good! Just stick it away and have a debt-free Christmas.
For those of us who need to get a little creative with our Christmas savings, here’s how we are going to do it:
• Grab any container that you can store your money in. I use a large mason jar. You could also use a cute piggy bank like this little guy. 🙂
• Use the five dollar bill saving plan. Every time you get a five dollar bill, put it in a jar. You’ll be surprised at how much cash you can rack up just by saving your five dollar bills.
• Do some flea market flips. Read 5 Ways to Find Free Items to Sell For Profit.
Find items at flea markets, thrift stores, and garage sales that you can re-sell for profit. I’ve had good luck flipping baby items on Craigslist. Used strollers, carriers, swings, large Fisher Price toys all do really well on Craigslist. You can also sell items on Ebay fairly easily but you need to take shipping costs into account. Sell bigger items on Craigslist, smaller items on Ebay.
• Dump ALL your loose change into your container. When paying with cash and the bill is $10.13. Instead of fishing for the 13 cents, give the clerk $11 and put all the change you get back into your container. At the end of each week take the change to a Coinstar machine or other coin counter (usually found at grocery stores). You could also save it all up and turn it in at the end of the 14 weeks. This is the most cost-saving way because the machines do take a small percentage of the total amount. This is also a good time to go through the couch cushions and old jacket pockets.
• Take surveys on Swagbucks. Payouts are high and fast. I like to take surveys while I’m binging on Netlix. 🙂
• Make your own Pumpkin Spice Latte at home. I found a great recipe here. If you can cut your coffee habit for the weeks leading up to Christmas, you can easily save $20 a week. I luuurv my Rtic stainless steel tumbler because it keeps my hot coffee HOT and my iced coffee cold. (I love coffee if you can’t tell.)
• Take advantage of the Thanksgiving holidays and offer to pet-sit or house-sit for people who are going out of town.
• Check Ebates for special sales. Often Ebates will post sales that are unavailable anywhere else. Plus, you’ll get a monthly check each month. Ebates is best used early in the 14 week savings plan so that you can put your Ebates check towards later weeks. Sign up through my link (it’s free!) and get $10 in your Ebates account.
• Go nuts on Swagbucks. Each $25 gift card costs 2,500 Swagbucks. It will take commitment but it is possible to earn 2,500 or more Swagbucks each week. Install the Swagbucks search engine and use it often every day. For every ten or so searches you do, you’ll earn swagbucks. Also, let the TV app run on your phone or computer ALL DAY. It’s possible to earn 50 Swagbucks a day by doing that. Then, take as many surveys as possible. These are worth 10 – 500 swagbucks. All of the Swagbucks credit to your account immediately (except for shopping purchases.) The gift cards you earn from Swagbucks are digital so you don’t have to wait for them to be mailed. It does take a few days for them to process though so make sure you leave yourself enough time to order your goodies before Christmas. Sign up for Swagbucks, it’s free and easy.
• Use the Amazon trade-in program. Do this towards the beginning of the challenge so that you have enough time to get your gift cards and use them for Christmas. Trade-in any new or gently used media in exchange for Amazon gift cards. I go into more detail on the trade-in program in this post.
• Babysit! December is full of adult holiday parties. Offer to babysit for friends and family that need an adults only night.
The Christmas savings plan worksheet has a space for your goal amount each week, how much you actually made or saved, and a place to write down what form the money is in (cash or gift card). The second page is for gift card tracking. It has a space for the store, the amount, and then a blank space where you can write it what you will use it for.
So LET’S DO THIS! I’m aiming for a no credit card Christmas! Wanna join me? Grab the worksheet below.