Do you find yourself scrambling every November or December trying to figure out how to pay for Christmas? Do you find yourself wondering how to save money for Christmas when you have no extra money?
There is a lot of wisdom in scaling back to only the necessities, giving gifts that don’t cost anything, and focusing on important elements of Christmas like family, serving others, and Jesus Christ. If you are feeling led to do this, please follow that.
If you are simply wanting to take some strain off your finances at the end of the year by planning ahead, I’d like to help you with that.
How to Save Money for Christmas
The simplest way to save money for Christmas is to figure up a budget (how much you want to spend on Christmas) and then divide it up by the number of paychecks you have left before you will need the money. That will give you the exact amount you need to save each paycheck in order to have the cash you need on hand when the time comes.
If you are just looking for some general how to save money for Christmas ideas, you could try one of these ideas:
- Change jar. Collect all your change throughout the year in a jar.
- $5 bill challenge. Save every $5 bill that comes through your hands. (My Dad does this.)
- Try a graduated savings plan. Save $1 this week, save $2 next week, $3 the week after. OR try doubling it each week: week one is $1, week 2 is $2, week 3 is $4, etc.
- Use coupons and save the money savings in a Christmas account.
Apps & Websites for Saving Money
If you don’t want to or can’t use one of these systems, or if you want to do more, then giving a savings app or website a try could be worth it. What is great about a lot of these is that you can earn cash back on things you are already purchasing. Here is a list of some that I know about and/or use:
Walmart’s Savings Catcher
Walmart has an app where you can scan your receipts and they will automatically price check for you. It is super easy to use and is free in the App store. I’ve used this since the last week of December and have accumulated $6.69 in money that I would not normally get back because I never price matched things before. I also do not do my grocery shopping at Walmart currently so I am not a frequent shopper. If you are, I’d expect your savings to be more.
Ibotta is another smart phone app where you scan your receipts to receive cash back incentives on grocery shopping items. You scan through the list of available rebates ranging from $.25 on milk or paper towels to $10 for a TOMS purchase. Some of the offers are for specific stores or websites, but some are available for multiple stores and even brands (like milk).
There is a teamwork aspect to Ibotta, as well. When you connect with friends on the app, you can earn bonus rebates. If you do sign up, please use my referral code to join my team and we can work together. My referral code: nciuuwm. You get a referral code when you sign up to refer friends, too.
I’ve sung the praises of Ebates before (websites every frugal shopper needs). Basically, if you shop online, you need Ebates. You receive cash back on purchases when you first click through the link on Ebates. Not every store is on there, but there are a LOT that are. Be sure to check those out. If you use your smart phone to shop online, be sure to download their app so you get the rebates still.
They also have a referral program where you can earn bonuses for telling your friends about their service.
Swagbucks is another website I’ve recommended before and there is good reason I still recommend it. The very basis of Swagbucks is that you use their search engine instead of say Google or Yahoo to search online. Randomly you are rewarded Swagbucks. You can then redeem these Swagbucks for gift cards at various stores.
Swagbucks has two apps in addition to the website: the main app is where you can answer a daily poll (and earn 1 swagbuck) and manage your account; and the SBTV app where you can watch videos to earn Swagbucks.
A few other ways to earn Swagbucks (there are more):
- Printing & using coupons
- Watching videos
- Taking surveys
- Playing games
Swagbucks also has a referral program, so you earn Swagbucks for referring friends.
Snap by Groupon
Snap is from Groupon, which is an awesome site, too. This is a new one for me. You scan through the offers before you shop, selecting the ones you will be purchasing, and then snap a photo of the receipt to redeem the offers. When you hit $20, you can request a check. The thing I like most about this one is that you can shop at any store! The thing I did not like is that the offers that I was interested in were “All Gone” so we’ll see how often they update those.
I have the app, but you can also use it on your desk/laptop via the website. Again, there is a referral program.
This is another new app for me, but I’ve already earned $3 in 24 hours. I don’t think that will likely happen every day, but it’s off to a good start. These offers update every Thursday and you have to purchase the items and upload your receipts while the offer is still live.
Tips for Using Money Saving Apps
You’ll not likely amass large quantities of money with these apps and websites, but you can definitely put a dent in your holiday shopping budget. Here are a few tips to make the most of your time.
- Read the rules for each app and offer. You don’t want to waste your time picking up items only to find that you needed to buy them at a different store to get the rebate.
- Stack offers. The great things about the apps is that you can use your coupons and sale prices in the store, then stack the rebate from the app on top of that.
- Don’t buy things you don’t need, want, or use just to get the rebate. That isn’t savings. If you ever find yourself tempted to buy something just because there is a rebate, put the money you would have spent on it into your savings account or Christmas fund. You’ll save more money than the rebate and not have something hanging around that you don’t need (clutter!).
Don’t let this list overwhelm you, let it encourage you. Now you know how to save money for Christmas (or any other need) and not even feel it. Just pick one and learn how to use it well. Once you are able to use it without really thinking about it, try another. Those savings will add up!