23 Ways To Save For The Holidays

 

 

The holidays, or Christmas, is coming up quick, and with that will be some hefty bills if you do not plan accordingly.

Here are some ways to save money quickly for the holidays!

 

SAVE FOR HOLIDAYS

Save Money

  • Make a budget. Start by deciding how much you think you can afford to spend, and work from there. Make a list of the people you need to buy for, and establish a value within the budget.

 

  • Change banking institutions or change banking plans: do you really need the premium plan with free everything? When was the last time you used any of the specialties they charge you for? Consider downgrading your plan and bank the savings for the holidays (pun intended!).

 

  • Do you have a credit card that offers cash back, or cash refunds for particular stores? In Canada, our credit card hacking is more difficult, but some stores that offer credit cards for use anywhere and give you a percentage back to spend at their stores are Canadian Tire, Walmart, Costco, etc. Others offer reward options that you can redeem for gift cards. Gift cards make great gifts, or you can use them like cash at those stores.

 

  • Do a luxury audit. Do you watch TV or movie channels during the fall/winter, or are you too busy at work? Do you use the cross-border or international calling on your cell phones? Do you need all the gigs of internet you are paying for? Can you cut back on a service or two for a few months (or for good!)? Bank those savings for the holidays.

 

  • Make your gifts this year. Think about an assortment of baking goods, gifts in a jar, an event in a bowl (like popcorn, drinks, chocolate, and a small gift card for the movies or a movie network), or other creative ideas instead of spending big bucks on something that the stores would overcharge for.

 

  • Double up on your gifts: make a donation and gift the donation to your recipient. Calendars for charities are popular – it’s an inexpensive gift that donates to charity and still provides something for the recipient to open and look at throughout the year.

 

  • Have a few challenge weeks leading up to the month you need the savings for: Meatless Monday, Soda-free week, bring your own coffee to work week, bring your own lunch to work week, etc. Make it a game and set aside the extra grocery savings.

Make Money

  • Do you have an extra room in your house? The next few holidays are centred around family (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, etc). Consider listing a room in your house as an AirBnB rental. If you are planning to be away for a week or more in the upcoming months, you could also rent out your home to a family on AirBnB. With the right insurances in place, you could earn more than your Christmas budget.

 

  • Drive for Uber or Lyft. You can make up your own shifts (choose times that are safer for driving strangers, if you are concerned), and make a few bucks while carting others around.

 

  • Sell old and unwanted items around your house. Electronics that no longer have a place in your life might be welcome in someone else’s (think replaced cell phones, iPods, etc.). Do you have clothes that you no longer wear and could be sold? Bridesmaid dresses can often be repurposed into Christmas party gowns, prom dresses, convocation parties, etc.

 

  • Watch for great sales or clearance at your stores. Check places like eBay, Craigslist, and Kijiji for current values, and try selling them online. (Check the return policy in case they don’t sell, or repurpose into a gift!)

 

  • Sign up for survey sites, like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks or PanelApp. You can earn cash from some, and others you can earn Amazon dollars. With just a few hours a week, you’d be surprised how much you could earn.

 

  •  Write a book and self-publish. By using Kindle publishing, you can have your work of art online and selling within 72 hours. Choose a niche that is popular and write. Fiction may take you a little longer than non-fiction, but it may sell better.  Want to learn more about self-publishing? Read this.
Here are some of the books I’ve published on Kindle:

MLM & Network Marketing: 30 Days of Tips, Tricks and Hacks, How To Grow Your Brand

MLM & Network Marketing Book 2: 30 MORE Days of Tips, Tricks and Hacks on How To Build Your Brand

Love Reconstructed: Love in Pine Meadows

If I can do it, so can you!

 

  • Direct Sales. Sign up for a company like Avon, Arbonne, Scentsy, Pink Zebra, Thirty-One Gifts, Stella and Dot, J.R. Watkins, Melaluca, etc. Many of these companies do not require a kit for start up, and if you are thinking about gift giving, that means others are as well. Why not be their source for gifts? The days of signing up your families to sell, or being designated sales areas are virtually over, and you can sell anywhere to anyone.

 

  • Get a part-time job. Now is the time that stores are looking for seasonal help. Some stores will work with your schedule without complaint, and the added perk is a discount for most stores you work for! Make money and pay less for the items you buy. Win win!

 

  • Sign up for a service on demand site, like Fiverr or Upwork. Do you have special media skills, design or editing prowess? People are always looking for affordable matches to help them out.

 

  • Become a freelance writer. More and more content will be consumed with advertising and discussion of the best of the best this holiday season. Seek out advertisements online, like ProBlogger, to see who needs writing assistance.

 

  • Start picking up odd jobs. Call friends who have businesses, and ask them if they need an assistant for a day or two. Offer to babysit (for money), walk the neighbour’s dog, and housesit for the snowbirds (people who go somewhere warm for the winter). Think like a teenager who needs cash: all the little jobs are still out there, and waiting for you to ask to do them!

 

No-Spend Ideas

  • Offer to provide a service for your time: babysitting, cleaning, or something else that the recipient could use. Oftentimes, the idea of a “coupon” is deemed as cheap, but sometimes a gift of time or doing something for the recipient is priceless. A single mom would love a couple hours to herself, a senior would appreciate a couple hours of cleaning (moving furniture for a vacuum for example), or a friend who is tight on cash would appreciate an indoor spa day at your house, or dinner made for them.

 

  • Consider making a date of it instead. If you regularly go for manis or pedis, consider making a deal with a friend that you two will go together and spend the day/afternoon together instead of spending money on each other. Memories are more special than things.

 

  • Regift. I know this option has an “icky feeling” attached, however if you have something that you do not use or like, and and it’s brand new, why let it sit and be wasted? So long as the giftee was not the one who gifted it to you, no one is the wiser, you have not spent any money and cleared out some space in your house, and they are happy.

 

  • Give with love: do you have coveted items in your home that you no longer care for? Example: My mother-in-law has a beautiful Christmas tree with all glass ornaments that I drool over every year. If she decides she doesn’t want those ornaments anymore, I would appreciate that gift so much more than anything store bought.

 

  • Check the free section of your local classifieds, Craigslist, Kijiji, etc., for re-givable gifts. Sometimes people just give perfectly good things away because they are moving, don’t have the time to sell it, or simply can’t be bothered.

 

There’s Still Time

I hope some of these ideas come in handy for you, especially since the holiday season can creep up on us really quickly! Good luck, and remember to stay on budget.

 

 

Do you need a few extra dollars each month? Try a direct sales avenue, like Avon, Mary Kay or hundreds of others. Learn where to start with my MLM & Networking books, now available on Amazon

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This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites. 

Collect-me-not: This Girl Isn’t Going Down Without A Fight.

April Showers bring May Flowers…

Spring isn’t arriving very quickly here in Ontario. We are in the tail end of what we are hoping will be the final blast of winter. The beginnings of tulips and daffodils are starting to pop through the dirt, and the birds are singing. We are still inside, though, waiting for the sunshine and warmer weather.

There have been a few changes lately. I read that mortgage rates will continue to rise in Ontario. I’m personally seeing the stress test affect buyers, and house sales seemed to have slowed down. (Some say it hasn’t, but here’s an article that spends more time debating it then finding out the facts.) Plus, the standardized lease for residential tenants and landlords takes effect in a couple of weeks.

Life As I Knew It…

As you know, I’m battling an old student loan debt with a collections agency, and I can’t say it’s going well. A couple weeks after I reached out to the company, I still had not received my statement of loans. I did, however, receive a letter from them. Inadvertently, I may have made a comment about income. Bad move! The letter said, “we have learned that you are employed. If we do not hear from you within 10 days with a repayment plan, we will be recommending legal action be commenced against you.”

I called them immediately. How dare they send me a letter threatening me, when I am still waiting for them to prove authenticity of the debt!

My (Not So Humble) Opinion

When you are in collections, it seems like the rule of thumb is to not contact them until you have means to pay. While that may not be the right thing to do, it seems the safest.

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Do Your Due Diligence

I can say I did my due diligence. I called the government. I called student loan centres. I’m satisfied that I owe this debt, but that doesn’t lessen the desire to see a statement.

When I had spoken to the supervisor at the collections company, he had recommended a few different ways to pay off this debt. It seems to be a standard list of suggestions, most of which made me inwardly laugh. If I had access to most of these suggestions, I wouldn’t be in that position in the first place!

Payment Suggestions

Suggestion: Pay it in full. Great idea. I don’t routinely keep $10k sitting around, so that’s not so much a thing.

Suggestion: Borrow money from family. Gee, why didn’t I think of that? Sorry, not an option in my family. We don’t mix money and family unless your life is hanging in the balance.

Suggestion: Get someone to co-sign a loan. Umm… see above.

Suggestion: Cash advance on credit cards and pay off loan. Yikes! This option is not a good one. Borrowing to pay off debt is never a good option, and cash advances are not like your regular charge on a credit card. Cash advances are charged daily interest, and are the last segment of debt paid off when you make payments against your balance. Most cards have a limit as to how much can be “cash advanced”, and its usually lower than the limit of the card.

Suggestion: Play the balance transfer option on credit cards until it’s paid in full.  SMH.

Suggestion: Fill out a transparent budgeting sheet, complete with account numbers, institutions and whatever else they desire, and make a repayment plan. I gave my permission for the company to send me the form. This was the only option I could take.

I started to work on the form, and decided I was not comfortable disclosing all of the information they requested. I called up the company, and she said I could block out the account numbers. Their only interest was to receive confirmation that the numbers on the budget were in fact accurate.

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When the Hustle Isn’t Working

Here’s the part that really got me.

Once I had completed my due diligence, my intention was to hustle like I’ve never hustled before. I wanted that debt paid off in full as soon as possible. That blemish was holding me back, and in combination with other debts I am paying off, it was keeping me up at night, and distracting me during the day.

I started throwing as much money as I could at it. The payments that were once directed at credit card debt were now covering the minimums and going towards this account. I had made four different payments in two weeks, paying off a whopping 3% of the amount owing.

She said they still want an agreement because of my history.

I wanted to shout. Scream. Cry. What history? The history of the collections company saying there was no statement to provide? There was no history, as I had no idea this debt existed! But it did. And I hadn’t been paying. I suppose that makes sense. If I was the creditor, I’d be even more aggressive. But I’m a person.  So naturally, I was offended, and yet, I understand.

Hey, You. Yes. You.

There’s a big part of me that hopes this post is never useful to you, because that means you have not, or are not, going through debt problems. I am only human, which tells me it’s more likely I am not alone. I know, however, that many people will not talk about these problems as they are embarrassing, humiliating perhaps, and entirely annoying. Don’t let your pride or your perceived pride get in the way of taking care of your debts. You can’t run from them, and there’s no way to make them disappear. There’s no bankruptcy from Canadian student loans.

Don’t let your pride or your perceived pride get in the way of taking care of your debts. You can’t run from them, and there’s no way to make them disappear. Click To Tweet

The Plan

With that said, I am still on the hustle to get this paid off. I started my first freelancing writing gig (I write for a retail gift site). I’ve applied to positions that allow me to work from home (more work, less transit time). Some sites offer payment for use, and there’s aways surveys, mobile apps and affiliate referrals. I am saving up as best I can, and I am cutting spending at the knees.

Have you noticed my Virtual Assistant page? I started a new course to help me build up my side hustle business. It’s called $10k VA with Kayla Sloan. She is so friendly, helpful, and really supportive. Now is the time to start if you are thinking about it, because her prices are going up. As they should – so far I’m loving the material.

Staying On Top Of Finances

I track my spending in a planner, much like an Erin Condren Life Planner. It’s dedicated to finances only, and I mark each bill or authorized withdrawal in it. Every two weeks, I get paid, and I look at the calendar to see what is coming up for the next two weeks. I deduct those expenses, and I write down every transaction that has gone through my accounts over the last two weeks.

By writing each transaction down, I can see if there are any fraudulent entries, and I can take note of any spending issues or habits forming. It’s great for lifestyle creep as well.  I also make note of how much interest I was charged on my credit card balances, if I carry one.

Every two weeks, I also have a chart that I fill out. It lists my main accounts (chequing, travel, emergency fund, all credit cards). I write in the balances of each account, and monitor that they are going in the direction they should be.

The travel account is added to automatically each payday. This is my saving grace of accounts. I know I could be directing this money to debt. I also know that a vacation helps my sanity. I have a small amount going to the travel fund so that my partner and I can go away to a budget-friendly resort at least once a year. It is comforting to know that, while I am giving up spending and hustling so hard, I will be rewarded by that vacation no matter what happens.

The emergency fund is an account that just sits and collects dust interest.  My emergency fund is low, usually around $1,000 – $1,500. This account is for the true emergency. (I am going to admit: Worst case, I rely on credit while I am paying off the debt.)

This is my life right now. I hustle at work, and then head home to try to find more hustle opportunities. Malls and stores are visited on a need-only basis, and the only shopping I’ve done lately is for cat food, litter and toner for my printer – which died right in the middle of printing my tax return.

Do you have any recommendations? What do you do for side hustles or extra income? Tell me in the comments, or join me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. What the heck, click a few ads or two, that would be fun too!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.