Raise your hand if your bank account has ever been personally victimized by the holiday season…

Photo Credit: Mean Girls by Paramount Pictures

Same. You’re not alone, my friend. There’s so much hope for my bank account, until right after Halloween. That’s when the brainwashing begins. Retailers douse red and green everywhere, sprinkle a couple of snowflakes, elves, Santa Clauses’, and “up to 40% off” signs around the store. I swear I heard ‘Jingle Bells’ playing in Nordstrom Rack the other day… It was the beginning of October.

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time with our loved ones, not stress and overspending. I know Christmas comes every 365 days, but it seems to sneak up EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR. Not this time, Baby Jesus. Here are some  surefire ways to save during the holidays:

Tip #1: Try the Envelope Method

I’ve been saving for Christmas since last Christmas. Figure out how many people you plan on buying gifts for. Set a reasonable goal for yourself, say $300-500, then divide it by 12. Take that amount of money and place it in an envelope every month.
Here’s a friendly tip: place the money far far away from yourself, like under your bed or drawer. Out of sight, out of mind ’til it’s gift-buying time. If you’ve got hot hands and think you’ll spend the money, ask a relative or friend to keep it safe for you.

My Christmas Envelope 🙂

Tip #2: Secret Santa/Pollyanna/White Elephant

Switch it up and have some fun this holiday season. See if your friends and family would be interested in taking an alternative route to gift-giving this year. Each of these methods have their own spin, but they have one thing in common: ONE GIFT. The ground rules usually include a spending limit or minimum. Use this time to be creative. Even if you spend $50-100 on one gift, that’s usually cheaper than buying for an entire group of people. Not to mention, buying one gift is quicker than buying multiple gifts. The only thing better than saving money, is saving time.

Tip #3: Set Spending Boundaries

Let’s say your family and friends would rather not do Secret Santa or Pollyanna. No prob, Bob. The holidays are a season of giving. So, how about we give our expenses a limit? Have an honest conversation with your loved ones (and yourself) on what a reasonable dollar amount should be. “Reasonable” varies by individual, so be sure to converse and agree on an amount that’s comfortable for everyone. My family has agreed on $25-40 for gifts, nothing more, nothing less. Setting a limit may also prevent what I call “gift resentment”, where you feel like the gift you received wasn’t as good as the gift you gave.

Tip #4: Track Your Spending

A budget is just a bunch of numbers and topics if you don’t follow it. You should already be tracking every penny that goes in and out of your wallet, so the same rules apply to holiday spending. It’s easy to get caught up in the music, bright lights, and gift-giving. Brainwashing is all part of the marketing scheme. The more money you spend, the more profit retailers reap. They’re getting richer while you’re maxing out your credit card. There’s nothing wrong with spending money, but be mindful by keepinig track of your finances. Remember, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” –Dave Ramsey

Tip #5: Take a Rain Check

Most of us get paid biweekly. Yet, it always seems like Christmas swoops in just in time to take your entire paycheck. And, it just so happens that rent/mortgage is due seven days later 🙂 . Ask your friends and family if it’s okay to exchange gifts after the holidays, say maybe the middle of January. Not only are stores having post-holiday sales, but lines are usually shorter and less crowded. Plus, you may be able to use the gift cards or cash you received and buy a gift for someone else, so technically you won’t be spending your own money 🙂

Tip #6: More Jobs, More Money

Your frugal friend is debt-free, but I still work three jobs. Three jobs equal three paychecks. Holiday Season is in full swing, so damn near every single retailer is hiring: Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, Nordstrom Rack, McDonald’s… the list goes on. You could potentially make an extra $300/month just by working 2-3 shifts a week. That extra cash could go to paying off bills, increasing your savings, or you can spend it all to gifts.

Frugal Fun Fact: If you work retail, you can get some KILLER DISCOUNTS. You also get first dibs on all the new merchandise coming in. When I worked at Kohl’s, we received 20% off everything, plus we had family and friends day where we would receive an additional 15% off (including clearance). 35% off is hard to beat!

Tip #7: Shop Year-Round

The best time to shop is at the end of the season and during the off-season. For instance, buying a sweater in the summer is a fraction of what it costs to buy the same sweater in the winter. The same rules apply for bathing suits once summer comes to an end. The end of the season is when retailers mark down merchandise like CRAZY. I went to Victoria’s Secret about a week after Christmas when they have their Semi-Annual sale, and bought four brand new stockings for a total of $28. The original price for ONE was $28, but they were discounted to $7 each. I got four for the price of one. They’re quality stockings that can be reused for years to come. They will going to look great on the fireplace, and my nieces will love them. Don’t forget about Black Friday, Prime Day, Tax-Free Weekend, Cyber Monday, and Back-to-School sales. These are also great times to take advantage of some pretty good deals.

Tip #8: Send subscriptions

Ever think of gifting a few months of a Hulu, Spotify, Netflix, or an Amazon Prime subscription to anyone? Each subscription is under $20, and you have 30 days to save more money. You can gift an increment of one month to an entire year if you’d like. Alternatively, you can purchase a subscription box that will be delivered right to their doorstep. Subscription boxes cover everyday luxuries like coffee, clothing, vitamins and supplements, fitness gear, jewelry, craft beer, etc. The list goes on for days.

Tip #9: Stimulate Your Mind

Use this time to think outside the box and let your creative juices flow by making something crafty. You could make a FREE photo book, knit a blanket, make a pillow, paint a picture, make a calendar… the list goes on. Refer to websites like Pinterest, Groupon, or Google for a plethora of DIY ideas. Your loved ones will truly appreciate you going above and beyond by creating a personalized gift.

Tip #10: Regifting is REAL

I have regifted before, and will 100% regift again. Ain’t no shame in my frugal game. Plis, what’s the point of letting something you’re never going to use sit around and collect dust? Especially when you know someone that will cherish the gift way more than you do. I’ve received super cute clothes, but they were too small, so I gave them to my neices. I’ve also gotten gift cards, socks, or gloves that I’ve regifted to homeless people. They always appreciate the gesture. Once something is yours, you have the right to do with it as you please. The only exception to this rule is personalized gifts. Like if someone took the time to knit you a quilt, don’t give it away (even if it’s ugly).

Tip #11: Donate Plasma

Guess who makes $300/month just by sitting in a chair with a needle in their arm? Okay, I guess it doesn’t sound as appealing when you put it like that, but whatever! Donating plasma is my JAM and an easy way to make extra money.

“You can expect to be paid anywhere from $20 to $50 per donation. The range in compensation is related to the volume of plasma you‘re able to donate. The FDA sets the guidelines and the ranges are 110-149 pounds, 150-174 pounds, and 175-400 pounds. The more poundage, the more plasma, and the more cash you‘re paid”

Source: wallethacks.com

$300 can pay for quite a bit of Christmas gifts in CASH. If you’re interested, simply Google “how to start donating plasma” or “plasma centers near me” or read this detailed article about donating plasma.
Disclaimer: If you don’t like needles, this may not be the best option for you. If you don’t mind needles, go for it!

The list doesn’t have to end here. Please share some of your holiday saving tips in the comments below. Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!