The holidays are almost here and odds are, your wallet is already feeling the crunch. Between buying Christmas gifts and cooking Thanksgiving dinners, what we call “the most wonderful time of the year” can often leave our bank accounts low and our stress levels high. One way to make sure the holidays don’t drain your cash fund is by saving up before they actually arrive. This month is No-Spend November – a month dedicated to saving money by cutting out things you don’t need.
If you want to take the challenge to live thrifty this month, here are a few tips to get you started.
1) Stick to the Essentials
Obviously, No-Spend November doesn’t mean that spending any money is off the table. There are essential items we have to pay for in order to survive – food, gas, electricity, (Netflix?) – but this month, try to keep your budget focused on those things. Buy groceries at the beginning of the week, meal prep and plan to only eat food from home. That means bringing your lunch to work and cooking dinner every night instead of ordering out. Avoid buying that cup of coffee from Starbucks every morning and make your own at home. Leave your credit cards behind when you go out so you’re less likely to splurge at the mall. Keep it simple and see how much you save.
2) Unsubscribe From Mailing Lists
It’s hard to save money when your email inbox is screaming at you to spend it. To avoid the temptation to online shop, unsubscribe from those mailing lists that always try to get you to buy their products. The deals aren’t worth it and, odds are, they’re offering you things you probably don’t need.
3) Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle
Respecting the three R’s is crucial for a successful No-Spend November. When it comes to decorating for the holidays, repurpose old materials around the house (wine corks, old Christmas cards, even holiday-themed junk mail can be used as ornaments, garland and wreaths) to save money; reuse decorations from years past; as long as they aren’t in tatters, they’ll do the job. Recycle materials like wrapping paper for next year.
4) Clip Coupons
You don’t have to be one of those extreme TV coupon clippers to recognize the value of a voucher. Before you head to the grocery store, check out your local paper or go online and search for deals you can use to save on everyday items. Sometimes this means buying in bulk (which isn’t a bad thing if you’re purchasing cleaning supplies and non perishables) but there are always hidden deals to be found if you take the time to look.
5) Stay In
The holidays are a time for gathering with friends and family but if you’re not celebrating a specific day or event (like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas) consider changing up your social scene and spending a night or two in for a change. You don’t have to fill your schedule up with dinner parties and cocktail hours to enjoy good company. Invite friends and family over for a potluck or plan a date night with your significant other and Netflix; play board games with the kids; read that new book you’ve been meaning to crack open. There are plenty of reasons to stay in during the winter besides the colder weather; take advantage of them.
6) Find Ways to Make Extra Money
This may be the hardest item on the list, but making extra money is possible if you just think outside the box. Maybe you’re already de-cluttering your house in anticipation of hosting family get-togethers. Take those items you’re getting rid of and have a yard sale. Bring old clothes to consignment stores. Maybe take on a side job like driving for Uber on the weekends – bonus: you get to choose your own hours – or offer to house sit for a neighbor for a small fee. There are plenty of options for additional incomes around the holidays and keeping busy doesn’t just mean you’re making money, it means you’re probably saving it too.