With the summer months winding down and the kids back to school, Christmas shopping may be the last thing on your mind. However, by saving money now, you can skip the stress and headaches of holiday shopping later.
Here’s how you can save a thousand dollars in just a few months:
Start Planning Now
You can’t really save money until you know how much money you have and how much you’re spending. You’ll need to make a plan for getting to that $1,000 by Christmas.
Create a Budget - and Stick to it
If you don’t have a budget, it’s time to make one. Make a list of all your income channels and how much you bring in on a monthly basis. Next, make a list of all your expenses. Some of these, like your rent or mortgage, utilities, and insurance will be roughly the same each month. Categorize your necessities and your non-essentials , such as entertainment, shopping, and gifts.
Add Holiday Shopping to Your Budget
Once you have your budget set up, add a category for “holiday shopping.” This will ensure you are accounting for your holiday spending each month and saving up for the season.
Decide How Much to Save Monthly
Make a goal for how much you want to save each month. The easy way is to divide it by how many months you plan to save. For instance, if you want to save a thousand dollars by Christmas and you’re starting in September, you’d need to save $250 a month.
Now that you know what your aim is each month, here are a few ways to save and earn that amount in just a few months.
Trim Your Spending
If you’re looking to save $1,000 by Christmas, you may be surprised to find it right in front of you. All it takes is some cutting back. You may find that saving a few dollars here and there adds up to a large sum or you can do a more extreme financial fast. Here are a few places to look for extra money:
Cutting your cable can save quite a bit of money a month. Depending on your plan, you could save anywhere from $40 to more than $100 per month. Consider going on a cable/internet fast for a few months to unplug. If you can’t go without cable or internet, shop around or negotiate your rate. Chances are, you can find a cheaper plan. Depending on your needs, you can even merge your internet with your cell phone data plan or hotspot options.
Cut Your Subscriptions
You may not think you have any subscriptions, but go through your credit statements to see if there is anything you are missing. Is there a gym membership you aren’t using? Can you switch to home workouts or your community fitness center? Check to see if you are paying for any cell phone apps, magazines, game or movie rentals, software subscriptions, or websites like LinkedIn Premium, dating sites, Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. Cutting these services may be difficult, but think of how much will add up over just a few months.
Eat at Home
Eating out can eat a serious hole in your wallet. To avoid big expenses on food, start meal prepping at home. Buy a loaf of bread for sandwiches to bring to work and freeze leftovers to make your groceries last. Just remember, don’t go overspending at the grocery store either.
Avoid Unnecessary Costs or Fees
Are you paying unnecessary banking fees or too much for insurance? Start shopping around for other options. If you are paying fees for banking, consider switching banks or going with a credit union. Look at different auto insurance, homeowners’ insurance, or healthcare insurance to see if you can negotiate a lower rate. If you’re spending too much in interest for your home or your auto loan, consider refinancing.
Minimalism is a movement growing in popularity these days. For you, maybe this means cutting down on the non-essentials or simple luxuries. Skip buying coffee every day or getting your nails done or spending your cash on clothes. Find entertainment and activities you and your friends can do for free - go for walk in the park or to the beach. Take a trip to the library and read a book. If you really want to save a lot of money quickly, consider a financial fast. Implement a “no-spending” weekend where you choose not to spend money for a few days.
Create More Cash
Now that you have a few ways to save money, do you need to make more money? There are few ways to bring in additional cash without changing jobs or careers.
Sell Your Stuff Online
Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Amazon Prime or eBay are easy ways to make additional cash. These websites or apps make it really easy to sell your stuff fast. Just snap a photo of the gently used item you want to sell and post it with your price. Anything from bikes, lamps, electronics, or furniture can earn you a little extra money.
Have a Garage Sale
If selling online isn’t your thing, consider a garage sale. You can throw your own or join with a friend to raise some money on your old clothes, furniture, or gently used kids’ toys.
If your job has an option to work overtime, talk to your employer about taking a few shifts. Even a few hours of overtime could make a big difference in your budget.
Find a Side Job
Finding a part-time job may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t have to be a ton of time. Maybe you can take on a few extra shifts at a retail store, a restaurant, or bartending. If that’s too much, think about driving for Lyft or Uber or finding opportunities to babysit, house sit, or pet sit. There are even apps to help you find house sitting and dog walking jobs. Think about what your natural abilities are and how you can monetize them. Maybe you can offer music lessons, tutoring, blogging, or play gigs.
Earn More with a CD
Placing your money where you can earn at a higher interest rate is an easy way to bring in more money. Learn more about opening a Certificate of Deposit and other investment options.
Still have questions about how you can save money or better leverage your financial resources? Talk to us about your options.