10/22/11

How to Save for Christmas

Christmas is coming and you need to save for gifts, travel, and holiday expenses.  Here are the top three ways how to save for Christmas so you will have enough to enjoy the holidays, without going into debt.

1.  Limit Extras

What non-essentials can you cut from spending these next weeks?  This will be different for every person, but some of these could be cut while you are saving for Christmas:

  • Eating out pig_bank_sm
  • Take-out drinks, vending snacks
  • Movies, cable TV
  • Magazines, books, video games
  • Lottery tickets
  • Manicures, salon visits
  • Clothing, shoes, dry cleaning
  • Hobby or sports expenses
  • Non-essential driving (save gas by grouping errands together)

What would be on your list – where can you save?  Put the money you save into an envelope marked “Christmas Savings” (collect spare change too).

2.  Save on Home Heating

Heating your house or apartment is the biggest home energy use (highest expense) according to the US DOE.  The weeks before Christmas are cold, so if you can reduce heat costs, you will be ahead in saving for Christmas:DOE_energy_use_categories1_sm

  • Break out sweaters, long-underwear, wool socks.
  • Keep blankets on couches, chairs.
  • Only heat in-use areas (but don’t let pipes freeze)
  • Turn down heat at night and when you are out.
  • Let sun in through south windows.
  • Lower water heater temp to 120 °F.
  • Reduce use of kitchen/bath vents (only until condensation is gone).
  • Save hot water (short showers; cold washer settings).

3.  Save on Groceries

Grocery costs are high around the holidays – there are family meals to cook, cookies to bake, and food-based Christmas gifts to make.  Here are tips on keeping grocery costs low, so that you can still save for Christmas.

  • Check out weekly grocery ads (look for low prices). apples
  • Learn how to coupon (we’ve got a slew of articles with advice).
  • If you don’t coupon, save by shopping at low-price stores like Aldi, Winco, or Save-A-Lot.
  • Use up what is already on your shelves.
  • For everyday, focus on low-cost, healthy foods (eggs, beans, nuts, sardines, tofu, apples, bananas, broccoli, greens, brown rice, oats, pasta, milk, etc.).

Now you have some ideas on how to save for Christmas, but that is only half of having plenty for the holidays.  The other half is finding low-cost (but still awesome) Christmas presents for all. We’ll cover these ideas next.

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