The following post is from Tiffany of Mommy Goes Green:
Every year my husband and I write a budget saving a little each month for Christmas and when November comes around, there is nothing in the Christmas coffer. There is always a need that ranks much higher now than the ones waiting for us come winter.
After many years playing that game, we’ve taken a different approach and so far, it seems to be working: we have saved 25% towards our Christmas budget.
Every month we accumulate small amounts of money earned in different ways and stuffed into a wallet to spend frivolously, because a couple of one dollar bills does not seem to add up to much and a latte-to-go is so much more fun.
Our new method is simple: with a few exclusions, anything that isn’t from a paycheck goes in the Christmas fund, even if it’s just a couple bucks.
It’s easy to keep track, we’re just using an envelope stashed away in the kitchen and once we meet our goal, it will be deposited until it’s needed. This is where my bits and pieces of cash are coming from:
Like many guys, my husband doesn’t have a wallet full of change. They are promptly deposited into a dish we keep in our kitchen. The cash from the contents are now earmarked for Christmas.
2. Shopping Rebates and Cash Back
Several times a year, I get a small rebate check in the mail for buying a new toothpaste or most recently, a box cutter. I also do quite a bit of our shopping online, making sure to go through eBates and ShopatHome to get a few bucks back.
I am piling up checks for a couple months and will cash them all in. (Note: Make sure to check for an expiration date on all checks.)
3. Phone Apps
Several new shopping apps will give you cash when you purchase specific items. My favorite, Endorse, has given me $29 for going to my local coffee shop. I’ve also scored money for buying diapers, paper towels and get this, GAS! I just leave the money in my account and will request a transfer to Paypal before Christmas.
4. Sell Your Stuff
Clutter is not my thing and if it’s not pretty or useful, I’m selling it. I’ve hit up Craigslist, eBay, consignment stores and our local Facebook swap groups to get rid of things. When the weather warms up, I will be hosting a garage sale. Check out these 13 great ways to sell your excess stuff.
5. Found Money
Ever find a $5 in your coat pocket or change at the bottom of the washing machine? That goes, too. Straight into the Christmas stash.
6. Gift Cards and Merchandise Credit
I have a knack for storing, but not actually using, gift cards. I’ve decided to throw those in the Christmas fund, just make sure to check for expiration dates. I might also sell them for cash. Instead of wasting time trying to find an item for exchange, I’m also putting merchandise credits I receive into our savings container.
When I used Swagbucks regularly, I earned one or two Amazon gift cards per month. I usually cashed them in for toilet paper or something equally boring. I’m trying to use it more often now and will hold on to my points until the holiday to cash in for gift cards to spend on gifts.
8. Mystery Shopping and Focus Groups
I do a few mystery shops a year and usually deposit the checks never to be seen again. This year, I’m adding them to my pile-o-checks and will cash them in for Christmas cash. I also hope to get on a focus group panel as they can pay well. I got $125 last year for spending about 2 hours of my time.
Here’s a tip that does double duty: get $50 now and have a place to stash your cash. Open an online checking account at Capitol One 360 (formerly ING Direct)! We’ve had one for several years and love their service.
What other small chunks of change do you get that can be saved now for Christmas?
|Tiffany is a wife and mom of two, living simply to indulge her family’s love of outdoor recreation and travel. You can find her contributing at Simple Homemade, The Creative Mama and her personal home on the web, Mommy Goes Green.|