Saving money over the holidays seems impossible, but I’ve found some great tricks that really work. Let’s face it, many of us aren’t just stressed around the holidays, we’re running out of funds. It’s the end of the month, and the expenses have piled on. Holiday parties, travel and buying all the gifts for friends and family can drain your bank account. By the time the First comes around, budgets for many of us are getting pretty slim.
Whether you’re still shopping for the perfect last-minute gift or just looking to treat yourself before New Years, here are some of my favorite tricks for saving money during the holiday season.
My Simple Tricks for Saving Money
Saving Money While Shopping
1. Download That App. Many stores have great apps that give you discounts upon checkout. Target’s Cartwheel, Kirkland’s Spin to Win, or Urban Outfitter’s UO App to just name a few can easily help you pay less for normally priced items and save on your holiday shopping. These apps are always quick to give you crazy discounts on your purchases just by downloading them. Also, don’t forget Shopkick that gives you money back just for walking to places you’re already visiting or scanning your receipt.
2. Keep the Coupons. You know the direct to mail coupon books sent to your home? Take a quick look through them. You’d be surprised! Likewise, subscribing to mailing lists is awful (I just spent way more time than I’d like to admit unsubscribing from mailing lists yesterday.) A great idea is to create a specific email that you use for subscriptions. Some of the deals and coupons that stores send can be opened on your phone and used on the spot. Many larger stores like Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and Bath & Body Works send monthly coupons straight to your home. Use SnipSnap to put these coupons on your phone and carry them with you. Don’t forget the holy grail of coupons, RetailMeNot! I always check my RetailMeNot app before I pay at any store. Download Honey to your browser for coupon codes you may not even know are there.
3. Go for the Gift Boxes! Many stores offer gift boxes during the holidays that give smaller samples of many products together. Many of these gift boxes have a great value and give you more than you pay for. Whether you’re buying last minute gifts for loved ones or just treating yourself, try saving money during the holidays investing in some of these great gift boxes! Sephora, Ulta, and many other stores let you try out smaller samples of their great products for a much cheaper price. Don’t wait too long.
4. Check Out that Store You’ve Never Heard of. When walking through the mall or a shopping district, don’t ignore the store whose name you’ve never heard or the tiny boutique you’ve never put a second thought into. These stores often offer great deals and amazing customer service. We’re all guilty of shopping at Forever21 or H&M, but let’s face it. These pieces are inexpensive, and they look and feel it. One wash, and they’ve shrunk and lost their color. Instead, spend time looking through lesser known stores. The quality of clothing might be only slightly better, but they offer clothing for different body shapes, pieces everyone else does not have, and sometimes amazing locally made designs. For me, my hips and waist are nowhere near the same size, and shopping at major fast fashion stores leaves me feeling down when dresses are too big on the top and too small on the bottom. I love walking into new stores that might not look that fancy but offer great pieces that actually fit!
5. Wait for the Sales. Throughout the year, many companies offer amazing deals, and not just during Black Friday which is actually more expensive. Hold off until the large sales. If you aren’t seeing friends til after the new year, wait for post-holiday prices to buy your gifts. Some of my favorite stores offer discounts multiple times throughout the year, not just semi-annual sales. Still looking for a great holiday outfit? Tobi.com give 50% all first orders, 30% all new arrives, and offers amazing discounts every couple weeks. I got my holiday party AND New Years Eve dress from there!
6. Know the Difference Between Thrift and Vintage. Most of the time, these are not one and the same. When you go to a vintage store, you are paying for a finding fee. The perfectly curated store is that way because someone carefully went to thrift stores and found the pieces well kept enough for them to sell at a much higher price. Of course, there are exceptions, with some reasonably priced vintage stores in every city, but you’re better off going to your local thrift store when money is low. Wednesdays are the best days to thrift. Local thrift stores as well as Salvation Army and Goodwill offer amazing Wednesday deals. Antique thrift stores are often great gems for beautiful house decor at very reasonable prices. The less hip the place, the more amazing finds you get. There’s a Goodwill near my parent’s house in Miami that sells name-brand dresses, pants and suits, with the price tags still on them for $5 or under.
7. Visit Outlet Stores Mindfully. Okay, real talk. It’s exciting to walk into an outlet store and see normally expensive pieces for half off or more. The reality is, you’re getting things MADE for those outlet stores, which are often of lesser quality. That doesn’t mean that the things are terrible quality; it just means that they are worse quality than the normally-priced counterparts. I’ve visited outlets before, but I’m mindful that the quality is not the same. If you choose to shop any department store’s outlet, know that those articles of clothing are not last season’s finds but really stuff made for the outlet. There’s still something to be said for the amazing home decor and other finds at discount retailers like Ross Dress for Less, TJMaxx, HomeGoods and Marshall’s.
8. Pause Before Your Shop. Before you swipe that card this holiday season, stop for just a second. Ask yourself, Is this something I really need? Is this something I can wait on? Emily says that she often puts things on hold and comes back after a walk around the mall or a few minutes outside the store. Why? “Because we get sucked into the deal or sale and often buy something just because we feel pressured to. So take time to get real with yourself instead of giving into the impulse.”
Saving Money When You Travel
9. Use Royalty Rewards. With loyalty programs, the more you buy, the more you get. Whether you’re looking for airline programs like TrueBlue by Jetblue (my favorite) or AAdvantage by American Airlines, the more you book, the more miles you get. Connect your card to their loyalty programs, and you’re getting double the points. This means points back on your credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the newer Chase Reserve and accruing miles whenever you buy something. Likewise, with the Reserve, you’re automatically allowed into any airport lounge, no matter the airline. Royalty rewards don’t just get you your tenth coffee free, they give you a huge discount on travel. Travel apps such as Orbitz and Expedia offer rewards based on how frequently you book, sometimes making them cheaper than my go-to, Kayak. If you have to eat out, try OpenTable 1000 point tables and earn $20, $50, and $100 for dinners. You can also reserve tables with Seated to get gift cards back for every meal.
10. Hack Your Flights. Apps such as SkipLagged, SkyScanner, or Momondo offer great deals on flights, so you can fly home for the holidays! Likewise, check out shuttle planes that fly between larger airports. You have to book weeks before, but you can get great discounts on flights between major cities, such as with the Delta Shuttle.
11. Book Hotels Last Minute. At first, this might seem counter-intuitive. Don’t hotels get more expensive the closer to the date you get? Actually, no! Some of my favorite stays have been booked that same week or day. Download HotelTonight ASAP for great deals on weekend getaways, destination trips, and amazing hotels. They also have a Royalty Reward program called HT Perks, where the more times you book, the more discounts you get! Other hotels, such as The Standard Hotel chain offers discounted same-day rooms for crazily discounted prices on their OneNightStandard App which has now changed to the One Night app. One holiday, I surprised my parents with a last-minute hotel stay in South Beach using HotelTonight, and it was surprisingly inexpensive. Many of these tricks can also help you give an unforgettable gift to those on your list.
Tricks For Saving MORE
12. Do Your Research. The same article of clothing or gift can be very different prices at different stores. Before buying, make sure it’s not at a better price elsewhere! Always be mindful of what you’re paying so you know if you’re saving money.
13. Save On the Little Things. A great way to save during the holidays is by trying to eat in. Cook meals at home, meal prep, and try to limit your daily Starbucks coffee. These little changes seem small but they can seriously help saving money during the holidays. Five dollars a day adds up in a month.
14. Remember Homemade Gifts are Awesome. If you’re really in a tight spot economically, homemade gifts are great and personalized ways to tell someone they mean a lot to you. You don’t have to be the best DIY expert. Gift baskets, a bag full of homemade cookies or muffins, hand-painted frames, and a lot of other inexpensive gifts can go a long way. Your loved ones know that what you spend on them is not equivalent to how much you value them. Show them that they matter instead by spending time with them and personalizing a homemade gift.
How do you practice saving money during the holiday season? Try one of these tips today and see how much you can save.
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