Before you know it, the holidays will be here. If you need a plan to avoid going broke, you aren’t alone. Giving feels amazing, but if you aren’t careful, the financial aftermath of indiscriminate spending can be a disaster.
Here are seven strategies to save money and enjoy a debt-free Christmas this year.
1. Identify a Monthly Savings Goal With This Easy Formula
Relying on the paycheck before Christmas to cover your holiday spending isn’t going to cut it. Preparation is the key to staying debt-free this Christmas. Decide now how much you plan to spend on gifts, and make a plan to save that money.
For example, if it’s early September and you decide your Christmas budget is $500, then you need to save $125 per month for the next four months. When Christmas rolls around, you’ll have the $500 ready to go — no credit required!
Automate Your Savings With Empower
The best way to follow through on socking away your monthly savings goal is to make it as easy as possible. Empower’s AutoSave feature does exactly that. Calculate your weekly savings goal for Christmas (maybe it’s $30/week), plug it into the Empower app, and have your savings goal carried out for you.
When you have enough money in checking, Empower will transfer your savings goal into your AutoSave account. If you don’t have enough money to complete that week’s savings goal, Empower will skip that week and try again the next week. You’ll reach your Christmas target without even thinking about it.
Banking services for new accounts provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.
- Related: Ultimate Guide to Saving Money
2. Use Money-Saving Apps
Another way to ensure you hit your Christmas savings goal is to make your money go further with money-saving apps.
When you score cash back on everyday purchases, you get more for less. The money you save on groceries and gas? That can help pay for Christmas!
Earn Cash-Back on Groceries with Ibotta (and Get a $20 Bonus!)
Saving money on groceries is easy with Ibotta. Before you shop, simply check out the app’s cash-back offers and add them to your cash-back grocery list. When you’ve completed your shopping, upload a picture of your receipt to earn cash back on the offers you added to your grocery list.
Ibotta is a simple way to save on groceries. Try it for yourself. Download Ibotta for free and score a $20 welcome bonus.
Need more info? Check out our helpful Ibotta explainer video.
- Related article: Ibotta App Review: Is Ibotta Legitimate?
Save at the Pump with Checkout 51
Checkout 51 is another money-saving app that earns you cash back on gas and groceries. It works pretty much the same way as Ibotta: Select the offers you want, make your purchase, and upload a picture of your receipt to get paid.
Over 5,000 gas stations offer cash back through Checkout 51. Download the free Checkout51 app and start saving at the pump today!
3. Lower Your Bills
Another great way to stockpile Christmas cash is to spend less money! It seems obvious, but if you’re like most people, it’s a struggle to actually cut costs.
What if you already use cash-back apps and you’ve already ditched your latte habit? You may think your remaining expenses are fixed, but you could be wrong. You might be able to lower your bills.
Get a Better Deal on Internet, Phone, and TV with Bill Shark
According to Billshark, 80% of people overpay on their monthly bills. So chances are, that includes you.
If you’d love to score a better deal on your internet, phone, or TV but don’t have the time to wait on hold with every provider, Billshark can help. They’ll contact your providers and negotiate a better price on your behalf.
Best of all, you don’t pay unless they save you money. If they do save you money, you keep 60% of your savings for the first year, and 100% of your savings every year after that!
Save on Home and Auto Insurance with Gabi
Gabi is your one-stop shop for lowering your home and auto insurance expenses.
Head to Gabi and plug in your home or auto insurance information. The Gabi price comparison tool will search for the best price on insurance coverage you need. See something you like? Gabi is a fully licensed insurance broker, so you can close the deal then and there.
Pay Less For Electricity
Being mindful of how you use electricity can help reduce your bill, but did you know you might be able to get a better rate, too?
Many people don’t realize there may be more than one electricity provider in their area. Why not check out what the other guys offer? Electricityrates.com has the details. The user-friendly comparison tool quickly shows you the plans and providers in your area to help you make an informed choice.
Head to Electricityrates.com and find a better deal on electricity to power up your savings!
Explore Debt Consolidation and Credit Counseling to Save Money on Interest
Are you paying high interest rates on credit card debt? You may be able to reduce your interest costs by consolidating your debt, leveraging balance transfers, or negotiating a debt settlement plan with creditors. Check out Debt.com
A Debt.com certified consumer credit counselor can review your financial picture and identify ways to reduce your costs and pay back your debt faster. They’ll explore your options and help you choose the one that best fits your unique needs.
Visit Debt.com to learn more about non-profit credit counseling and connect with a certified credit counselor.
- Related article: 7 Habits of People Who Destroy Debt
“Help me stop being poor!”
Here are the facts. The *only* way to save money is to spend less than you earn. There’s no way around it.
So what does this mean for you? It means you need to either decrease your expenses or increase your income.
We want to help you do both. Join our 6-day Savings-Account Accelerator Workshop. We’ll send you expense-lowering tools and techniques (and even a few tips on how to boost your income). These frugal-living hacks will help you accomplish the cardinal rule of personal finance: keep your income over your expenses.
When you can spend less than you earn, your money will grow. You will build your savings, pay down debt, and save for retirement.
Join our free 6-day Savings-Account Accelerator Workshop, and start growing your wealth today.
4. Pick Up a Side Hustle to Earn More
If cutting costs isn’t enough to get you in financial shape for the holidays, you still have the option of earning more money. The right side hustle can be the difference between just getting by and crushing a savings goal. The good news is you have a lot of options at your fingertips.
Become an Instacart Shopper
Instacart shoppers (a grocery delivery side-hustle) have never been in higher demand. During the COVID-19 pandemic, high-risk people can’t grocery shop for themselves. Instacart solves their problem by dispatching personal shoppers to pick up and deliver their groceries.
Get paid to help someone get their groceries — join Instacart today.
Teach English to Kids with VIPKid
If you’re looking for a fun, engaging side hustle with reasonable pay, VIPKid might be for you. The VIPKid program allows you to teach English to children in China from the comfort of your home. They do all the lesson plans for you. All you need is a computer with a mic and camera, a stable internet connection, a Bachelors’ degree (it doesn’t need to be in English), and a willingness to help. Teach off the lesson plan provided, and earn $20+ an hour with VIPKid.
- Related article: Make Money From Home with These 7 Side Hustles.
5. Use These Apps to Save on Gifts
Cash-back apps are an easy way to earn free money when you shop for Christmas. These are some of the best:
Want to save time and money when shopping online? Wikibuy is for you! It’s a price comparison tool, coupon code finder, and rewards platform all in one. My favorite feature is the browser extension — when you shop online, Wikibuy automatically finds you active coupon codes and prompts you to activate loyalty credit offers (credits can be redeemed for free gift cards to Amazon, Walmart.com, and thousands of other retailers). When you shop Amazon, it will look for better prices, so you can be confident you are getting a great deal.
- Related article: Save Money with Wikibuy: Is It Legit and Safe?
Dosh ($1 Bonus)
With Dosh, earning cash back is easy. You don’t upload receipts, select offers, or anything else. You just download the app, connect your cards, and shop normally. Dosh earns cash back when you shop (Walmart, Thrive Market, Sephora, Finish Line) , dine (Instacart, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’) and travel. Once you’ve accumulated $25, you cash out via PayPal or Venmo.
It’s time to stop leaving free money on the table. Sign up for Dosh and nab a $1 bonus.
Rakuten ($10 Bonus)
Rakuten pays you to shop at hundreds of retailers. You’ll earn cash back on purchases you make through the online portal, but the browser extension removes that step, making it dead simple. Whenever you visit a partner retailer’s site, you’ll get a notification reminding you to activate your cash back offer. Rakuten also has in-store offers. The savings really add up!
Join Rakuten and earn cash back on your Christmas purchases. You’ll get a $10 welcome bonus when you make a $25 purchase within 90 days of joining.
6. Grow Your Money with a CIT Savings Builder Account
Now that you know how to design a Christmas savings goal and find the money to fund it, you need to decide where to put it. Why not stash it in a free high interest savings account? You’ll earn higher-than-average interest (APY) on your deposits, giving your savings a little boost. Remember, every cent adds up.
Open a CIT Savings Builder Account with a $100 deposit. Set up an automatic $100 monthly deposit to grow your savings fast and earn a competitive interest rate. See CIT’s live banner below for the current rate APY.
Ready to ramp up your savings? Open a CIT Savings Builder Account today.
7. Talk to Your Kids — and Really Listen
As Christmas draws closer, find out what your kids want. As parents, we sometimes assume that the route to a happy holiday is buying the biggest and most expensive gifts. But that might not be what our children really want.
If your kid wants a paint by numbers kit instead of the Xbox you thought you had to buy, then go with that and consider yourself lucky! A bigger price tag doesn’t always mean better. Don’t feel like you need to spend more, and whatever you do, don’t go into debt.
If that means this will be a smaller Christmas, it’s OK to talk to your kids about that, too. Use it as an opportunity to teach them about money and the power of being debt-free.
Earn Credit Card Rewards, Debt-Free
Rewards credit cards are a fantastic way to earn cash back on every purchase. Of course, it only works for people who will pay off the card in full every month. Interest charges cancel out the value of any reward.
But since you have a strategy to stay debt-free this holiday season, you can confidently make all your purchases on a rewards card that earns cash back.
Check out Credit Land to find the best rewards credit card for you and get more value for your money.
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Save More Money! Check these out next…
- 8 Ways to Drastically Cut Monthly Expenses
- 7 Habits of Women Who Always Have Money
- 43 Hacks to Live on One Income & Never Be Poor
- 7 Hacks to Make Your Home Look Expensive (on the cheap)
*Wikibuy compensates us when you sign up for Wikibuy using the links we provided*
No Money in the Bank?
If you struggle to save money, it’s because you don’t know how to do it. Start growing your wealth every month with our 6-Day Free Workshop.
Sandra Parsons is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, travel, and health & psychology. Her work has been featured on sites like Club Thrifty, MoneyTips, and Credit Knocks. She also freelances for Wooster Media Group LLC. Sandra lives in Eastern Canada with her husband and son.