The festive season – however fun – is not exactly a prosperous time of year. Although the joys of giving is one that can bring immeasurable joy, a not so enjoyable side effect is the state of our bank accounts. We’ve devised a few creative money-saving tips that will help you get you through the holidays without despairing on how your financials will come out the other end!
1. Pick a bank that gives back. Look for a bank that makes the most sense for you. Seek out perks like no ATM fees, high interest on savings accounts, and no overdraft fees. Smaller banks often offer better interest rates and perks. If your bank doesn’t offer these perks, call them and ask if they will.
2. Get your hair done for free. Search online for local beauty schools. An appointment with a student in training may mean a majorly discounted (or even free) haircut.
3. Troll exclusive deals sites. For deals on everything from haircuts to brow waxing, head to sites like Groupon, Yipit, and Living Social. If some deals seem too good to be true, check out Yelp reviews of specific restaurants or salons before purchasing in order to prevent the meal or haircut from hell.
4. Stream fitness classes online. Stream fitness classes for free or for a small fee. Some monthly subscriptions to fitness video sites are cheaper than one in-person class. We like YogaToday, Daily Burn and Gaiam TV. Get friends involved to stay accountable.
5. Choose energy-efficient appliances. The math is easy on this one. Less energy used equals less money spent. If your fridge works perfectly fine, it may not be in your best interest to chuck it; but when you do decide to buy new appliances, it’s worth the extra moolah to purchase an Energy Star model.
6. Find happy hour drink specials. Fiddle with Foursquare to find drink specials at local bars and restaurants. Dirt-cheap drinks and no cover charge make the moniker “It’s five o’clock somewhere” all the more appealing.
7. Whip up your own greeting cards. From “thank you” notes to birthday cards, all it takes to make a classy-lookin’ DIY card is some cardstock and a little creativity. In contrast, store-bought cards can cost around $5.99 and chances are they’ll be tossed in just a few days.
8. Eat in, outside. Eating in doesn’t have to mean chowing down inside. Bring a picnic to a park, a beach, or even your backyard and make dinner just a little more special (without having to tip).
9. Make your own gifts. When it comes time for birthdays and holidays, peruse Pinterest for homemade gift ideas such as DIY candles, face scrubs, baking mixes, and home goods.
10. Go to the movies during the day. Hitting up a matinee can save a few buckaroos per person. And smuggling in a few healthier snacks can save a ton (both in terms of money and health) compared to over-priced boxes of candy and cartons of popcorn.
11. Sign up for rewards cards. Having a rewards card can save money on everyday items such as shampoo or toilet paper (If the emails from drug stores bother you, immediately unsubscribe.). To make things even easier, there are apps that consolidate cards so you don’t have to carry them all around
12. Wait for sales. Visit retailmenot.com to search for discounts for a favourite item or store. Added tip: Wait until the end of a season to buy clothes when they’re all half-off or more.
13. Buy generic. Try out generic brands of some of your most commonly purchased items. Oftentimes, it’s hard to notice a difference. Certain purchases, such as medications and organic food, are especially smart to buy generic because they’re regulated by the FDA and the USDA, respectively.
14. Buy in bulk. Buy personal care items, such as deodorant and hand soap, in bulk (so long as you’re confident you’ll actually use it all). Buying bulk almost always saves money on the unit price.
15. Go grocery shopping on a full stomach and alone. Don’t let a rumbly tummy or a picky spouse influence your grocery list. Head to the supermarket after you’ve eaten— studies show that shopping with hunger pangs may mean more food in the cart.
16. Double your recipe. Cook multiple meals at a time—double a recipe, or cook a few recipes at once—and then freeze some for later when you’ve got no time for meal prep (saving you from the expense of take-out food). If once-a-month cooking is too daunting a task, stick to once a week or a couple times per week.
17. Make your own snacky foods. Snack bars, quick-cooking oatmeal cups, and individual hummus cups all come with a price—and it’s almost always higher than a homemade version. Spend a little time in the kitchen to make healthier, less-processed versions of packaged snacks.
18. Walk and bike whenever possible. This one is as simple as strapping on a helmet or lacing up a pair of sneaks. Not only will a bike or walk commute to the supermarket or to work provide health benefits, but it’s also more cost-effective (no gasoline required!).
19. Don’t leave junk in the car. Get rid of the junk in your trunk; it’s jacking up your gas mileage. The more a car is carrying, the worse its gas mileage. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk cuts a typical car’s fuel economy by two percent. Dropping the weight can save nearly $40 in a year.
20. Take advantage of public transportation. Opting for a bus ride rather than driving yourself to work each day could easily save over $100 per month (factoring in the costs of parking, fuel, and car maintenance). If a bus isn’t a viable commuting option, try it out as a cheaper (not to mention less stressful) option than driving to a vacation destination or to visit family. Shoot for off-peak times (after 10am) and book in advance if possible. And of course, if you’re a city-dweller, the subway is much cheaper than owning a car or frequently taking a cab.