Can you believe we’ve already covered 12 days of holiday ideas that won’t break the bank?
Welcome back to Day 13 of 100 Days of Debt Free DIY Holiday Ideas where our goal is to help you have a debt free Christmas by showing you the most budget friendly DIY gifts, decorating ideas, projects, recipes and budgeting solutions.
If you’re just now getting around to thinking about the holidays, and you haven’t put any money away to pay for Christmas, you might find that you have more people to buy for than money on hand.
Of course, I’m a big proponent of trimming your gift list. There’s no shame in cutting people off your list because you just can’t afford to buy them a gift. There’re many other things you can do that won’t cost upwards of $50. Sometimes just spending one on one time with someone you don’t get to see often is better than some store-bought present.
Please, (I’m begging here) consider trimming your list down if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Don’t incur more debt just because you think you need to buy someone a gift this year.
Believe me, more people than you think are struggling, and often they are people with sufficient incomes who consistently live above their means in an attempt to keep up with someone they barely know or worse someone they don’t even like.
15 Easy Ways to Increase Your Christmas Budget
1. Seasonal Positions
Stores are looking for seasonal help every holiday season. Granted the jobs will be scarcer and many people will be vying for this work, but you may know a friend who works at a retail establishment that can fast track you into a seasonal position. Better yet, before retail establishments begin to advertise, identify stores you would enjoy working at and go and ask them now if you can fill out an application for a holiday job. You may get put on the top of the list for your take charge attitude!
2. Sell Your Stuff
We all have stuff around the house we don’t use and can toss. I recently had a yard sale at my home and got rid of over 2K worth of stuff I no longer wanted or needed. That money can now go into my Christmas fund. Additionally, I posted several higher end items on eBay and had sold a couple of things adding another $700 to my savings pot.
Consignment shops are another great way to unload clothes that have been sitting in your closet collecting dust. Additionally, there are hundreds of local on-line yard sale sites on Facebook and selling apps are your disposal that can help bring in extra money. I’ve sold many items on these sites. I bet you have stuff you can get rid of too. Look around your house and sell these items to add to your holiday savings account.
I’ll admit the most controversial idea is “re-gifting.” We all claim we don’t do it, but you know, and I know that’s not true. Sometimes you get a gift that isn’t’ terrible, but you just don’t need it. For example, several years ago one of my staff gave me a back massager. Lovely gift, but I already had one. It went into my re-gifting section in the basement where I later used this item as a Yankee Swap gift. Win-win for everyone! Re-gifting is not a bad idea if you have items that you don’t want, but someone else would enjoy.
4. Stop Eating Out
Eating out is by far the biggest variable expense for many people. If you’re serious about having a debt-free holiday, then I highly suggest you stop eating out immediately.
Let’s look at the numbers. If you eat out weekly and spend on average $100, and had started to save this money in July, by the time holiday shopping is in full swing, you will have amassed $1500.00 by November. That is a lot of money and probably enough to cover everyone on your holiday shopping list. Even if you stop eating out in November, you could still save $400 by Black Friday and a total of $700 of extra cash by Christmas.
If you insist on eating out, and I hope the numbers convinced you otherwise, at least, look for restaurant coupons in the paper or online with sites like Restaurant.com.
5. Save Money On Groceries
Coupons – I know, I know a lot of people hate to use coupons but guess what? You save money using them as long as you use them strategically. Don’t know where to start? Read my post on Why You Should Use Coupons and my Coupon Lingo and Abbreviations post to help you out.
Money Saving Apps – There are so many great money-saving apps out there I barely know where to begin. My two favorite food related apps are Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon. Both are super easy to use. Just take a picture of your receipt for the promoted products and they’ll drop money on your account. You can even get money back on items like milk, bread, and produce – things where you never see a coupon.
6. Save The Change
Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a change jar? I don’t. I’ve got one, and you know what I use it for? You got it – Holiday Shopping.
All year long, I throw all my loose change into my change jar. Come November, somewhere around Black Friday, I roll it up and deposit in the bank. I could take it to Coinstar™ and cash it in there, but Coinstar™ does charge a fee to cash in your coins unless you get the money as a gift card. Gift cards are ok with me considering it is the Holiday’s, and I will likely give some this season.
7. Ask Yourself, “Can It Wait?”
You might want a new pair of shoes or to own the latest electronic gadget, but can it wait? You should be asking yourself this question every time you shop, but if you’re not, now is a good time to start the habit.
If you can wait to make some purchases, consider holding off until after the holiday season is over. Who knows, someone might buy it for you as a holiday gift.
8. Sell Your Electronics
Don’t leave smartphones, tablets, computers or game consoles you’re no longer using in a desk drawer or the back of a closet. You can easily cash in on your unwanted electronics — even damaged items — by selling them online.
Sell used smartphones and Apple products at Gazelle.com and get paid by check, PayPal or an Amazon gift card. You can sell smartphones, tablets, laptops and video games to NextWorth.com for cash or take items to one its partner stores, such as Target, and get store credit. At uSell.com, you can sell smartphones, tablets, game consoles, video games and textbooks. You get paid by check or through PayPal. Shipping with all of these sites is free.
If you have a particular skill — whether it’s the ability to play an instrument well, paint like Picasso or explain calculus in a way anyone can understand — you may be able to make money sharing it with others. For example, you could earn about $15 to $30 an hour tutoring several kids or college students if you speak a second language or have great math, science or writing skills.
Or teach a full class. For example, I started teaching at my local college several years ago as a way to bring in additional income. Ten years later, that gig is still going strong, and although I don’t ‘need’ the money like I once did, I get an enormous amount of enjoyment out of teaching adult learners.
Advertise your services on school, campus and community bulletin boards or online classifieds site Craigslist. And take advantage of social media sites, such as Facebook, to let people know about the lessons you’re able to teach.
10. Redeem Reward Points
Did you know $16 billion dollars of credit card rewards goes unredeemed each year? That averages to $205 of unclaimed points per household. That’s an enormous untapped source of cash just waiting for you!
Check your credit card rewards statements and other banks and institutions where you get rewards and cash them in for general purpose gift cards you can give this holiday season.
11. Sell Used Books
When I think of all the used books I’ve given away to charity or those used bookstores, I could kick myself. I never knew about this option until recently, and so I share it here, so you don’t make the same mistake I made.
Dust off those old books you no longer want or need and start selling them online. BookScouter.com makes it easy for you to get the best price for your books. Just type in the ISBN from your book, and BookScouter.com scans prices from more than 40 book-buying sites to show you which ones are offering the most.
12. Profit from Your Garden
I have several friends who profit this way, year after year. I have one set of friends who sell flowers each spring and early summer resulting in a net profit in the thousands. My other friend sells his overabundance of produce to his neighbors, friends and at his local farmer’s market. If you have an overflow of eggs that you don’t want going to waste, or you can sell them for a profit too.
13. Rent Out That Extra Room
If you have additional rooms you don’t use, consider renting out a room or two. It will bring in a significant income. Make sure you do a thorough background and credit check on anyone you consider renting too.
14. Become a Uber or Lyft Driver
If you’ve never heard of Uber or Lyft, you use your vehicle and provides rides to riders looking to be taken to a destination. You earn money from each fare, plus tips. I know someone who is making GREAT extra money being a Uber driver. If you’re sitting around time on your hands, this may make a great money making alternative for you!
15. Become a Rabbit
If you can do errands, cook a meal, hang a picture, move furniture, pick up something at IKEA and put it together then you’ve got what it takes to be a TaskRabbit. You sign up, fill out a profile, the company runs a background check, and you list your services. People hire you to do jobs, and you get paid for the services. Again, if you have time on your hands, this may be an excellent way to make some extra money this holiday season!
There are countless ways to bring in extra money. I’ve given you a good sample of ways to accomplish this, but I’m sure you can find other ways that might work better for you and your circumstances.
No matter what ways you chose, you’ll be adding to your holiday spending account, ensuring a debt-free holiday.