The holiday season is quickly approaching, and Christmas is coming up in just a few short months. If you’re like most of us, you remember chaotic Christmas shopping, and never having enough money to satisfy all the gifts you want to give.
This year will be different because we’re planning in advance as a result of lessons learned.
We’ve created a 10-week plan to help you save an extra $500+ for Christmas… and it’s much easier than you think.
Imagine Christmas with more money saved for gifts, no new credit card debt, and the peace of mind that you’ve done your due diligence, and can enjoy the added family time.
How to Save An Extra $500 For Christmas in 10 Weeks
This 10-week plan is pretty simple. The way it works is our goal is to save $50 per week for 10 weeks so that by Christmas, we have an extra $500 saved ($50 x 10 weeks = $500 savings). The real value is found in following the savings strategies listed below.
For this plan to work, you need to start implementing it by October 16th because that’s exactly 10 weeks before Christmas Day on December 25th. To further aid you in your plan, we’ve created a 10-week goal tracking sheet to help you maintain motivation and stay on track. Download it here and print it for your own use.
Following this program requires understanding two vital concepts that will save you a lot of worry and debt. They are avoiding debt at all costs when preparing for Christmas shopping, and understanding the value of saving a little each week with enough time in advance.
Why You Should Avoid Debt at All Costs for Christmas Gifts
Most Christmas shopping debt comes from credit card spending. To illustrate the effect of using debt for Christmas shopping, consider this following example. Follow along…
John & Jane Smith have 3 children in their family and expect to spend $100 on Christmas gifts for each of their three children and $100 on each other, totaling $500 for their Christmas budget.
They didn’t plan as early as they should have, leaving them with no savings for Christmas shopping, and thus they decide to put $500 on their credit card for Christmas shopping.
With an average credit card interest rate of 17.61% (according to CreditCards.com) and a minimum payment of $15 (which is calculated by most credit card companies by totaling the interest due that month +1% of the principle, for a total minimum payment owed), it will take them 3 years and 11 months to pay off their $500 credit card balance. Furthermore, they will have paid an additional $191.61 in interest, for a total of $691.61. In other words, their $500 Christmas shopping actually cost them a total of $691.61 and an added minimum monthly payment to add to the budget of $15.
And that’s just for one year. If they go through this cycle every year, the results will be compounded.
Avoid Santa’s Naughty List by Starting Your Savings Plan Early
As you can see, the benefits of using cash to pay for Christmas shopping are worth planning for. Almost as important as avoiding debt at all costs is planning for Christmas shopping as early in the year as possible (and at least 10 weeks in advance, in this case).
With the same Christmas budget of $500, and a whole year of preparation, it would take you just $9.62 per week to save $500 for Christmas if you plan a year in advance. From a different perspective, that’s skipping out on just one lunch out per week and you have saved more than enough to meet your $500 Christmas budget!
9 Easy Ways to Save An Extra $50 Per Week
Perhaps your weekly lunch is more of a sentimental value to socialize with long-time friends. And that’s ok! Here are 10 ways to save an additional $50 per week to aid you in your 10 week Christmas shopping budget…
1. Cash Out Existing Credit Card Rewards
The average household carries about $6,803 in credit card debt according to a 2018 report done by NerdWallet. It’s safe to say most of us have some credit cards already, and little did you know you had a balance of rewards points!
All you have to do is log onto your credit card online banking account, and it should show you details of how many rewards points you have and how much cash that equals. For some, this may even be your entire $500 budget saved already!
2. Apply for A Credit Card That Has A Sign-On Bonus
Many credit card companies offer a signup bonus that’s worth considering. Some to consider are:
- Capital One Savor Card: $300 Cash Bonus
- Capital One Quicksilver Card: $150 Cash Bonus
- Chase Freedom Card: $200 Bonus
Most cards require you to spend a certain amount to obtain the bonus, say $500 within the first 3 months. The trick to not going into debt here is simply using your new card for already planned expenses, such as groceries and gas, and pay the balance immediately. Then get your bonus and it’s free money!
3. Take Advantage of Free Money with Cashback Apps
Cashback apps are programs that offer free money when shopping at partnered retail stores. In other words, you get cashback for expenses you already make each day! Some of the best cashback apps are:
- Ibotta: Ibotta partners with thousands of retailers and allows you to upload your receipts to the app, automatically applying and approving cashback offers available.
- Rakuten: Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten works in the same way that Ibotta does, and even offers a $10 sign up bonus. They work with over 2,500 stores, and some offers are as high as 40% cash back.
- TopCashback: TopCashback is an online only cashback program that guarantees to offer you the highest cashback available among online purchases. By logging into your TopCashback account and click through to your favorite stores from your account, TopCashback can track your purchases and offer your cashback.
- Dosh: Dosh connects to your banks debit card and offers you local cashback offers. When purchases are made at their partner stores, you get paid cashback rewards.
- Drop: Drop rewards you points for shopping at partnered retailers, which can later be turned in for cashback.
4. Take Online Surveys in Your Spare Time
Did you know you can make money in your spare time just by taking paid online surveys? Similar programs to cashback offers, you can get paid just for completing quick surveys. Just open a free account and start taking surveys! Here are the best places to earn free cash from surveys:
Each of the above suggestions allow anyone to set up a free account and provide a variety of options to take surveys for money (and often times other activities like playing games, watching videos, and providing feedback too).
5. Sell Unwanted Household Items
We all have household items that perhaps we haven’t touched or used in years. How about making some extra cash by selling those items?
There are multiple ways to sell your unwanted items, such as selling them on eBay, Facebook, or other selling apps like OfferUp. Even websites like Raise and CardCash will pay you for unwanted gift cards with a balance! For more ideas on what to sell, take a look at our list of things you can sell for extra money.
6. Get A Temporary/Seasonal Job
Getting an extra job for a few hours work per week is especially needed during the holiday seasons. Good ways to earn extra money with a temporary job are:
- Wrapping gifts at department stores
- Working as Santa or Santa’s Elf
- Working for a local Christmas tree lot
- Working at a local Amazon warehouse
- Finding seasonal work at local retailers whose workload increase during holiday seasons
7. Donate Plasma
For both the satisfaction of helping other people and saving lives, as well as making a decent amount of money, donating plasma is second to none. You can visit your local plasma donation center, and in an hour or so, you can spend reading a book while you give plasma. You can make up to $400+ per month! Take a look at our guide for more info on how to get paid to donate plasma.
8. Walk Dogs
Believe it or not, dog walking is a service in high demand. Thus, the birth of Rover, a dog walking/caretaking app that allows people to pay you for walking their dogs and even watching them overnight. It’s like the Uber ride sharing app, but for dog walking! You can set your own rate and work your own hours making money side by side with “man’s best friend.”
9. Rent Your Stuff Out
We’ve all got extra stuff, and sometimes we don’t always use it to the fullest extent. Renting out owned items is a great way to make some quick money, and its great pay for the time it takes. Websites that allow you to rent your stuff out like Fat Lama, Loanables and Rentah are great starting points that allow you to rent out just about anything you can think of. Furthermore, you can even rent out extra rooms in your home with apps like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. See our guide for a list of 20 things you can rent out for extra money.
How to Double Your Savings for Next Year’s Christmas Season…
If you can save an extra $500 in just 10 weeks that easy, imagine how much easier it will be when you start planning your Christmas budget for next year, starting December 26th!
Now that you have a large list of ways to make more money, you understand the importance of avoiding debt for Christmas shopping and the benefits of saving for Christmas as early as possible, perhaps next holiday season you’ll have double the spending power from a well-planned savings strategy.