The holidays are coming quicker than you think, and it’s time to start getting ready for them, especially when it comes to budgeting and finance! Saving for the holidays is a great practice to begin in early Fall so that by the time they roll around at the end of the year, you’re not hurting your bank account so much! Here are a few tips for saving for the holidays that you can start right now!

10 Ways To Start Saving For The Holidays Right Now

1. Stop Dining Out

Do you buy lunch out every day? Start taking your lunch to work and you’ll notice huge savings in no time. Use the Lunch Savings Calculator at FeedThePig.org. Are you also dining out a lot? Then use their Benefits to Spending Less Calculator to see how skipping dinner out and other small lifestyle changes can quickly grow your holiday funds.

10 Ways To Start Saving For The Holidays Right Now - Use the Brown Bag Calculator to Find Out How Much You'll Save By Taking Your Lunch instead of going out.
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2. Make Handmade Gifts!

If you’re a crafty person, handmade gifts are the route to go this year in saving for the holidays! They are sometimes cheaper than buying gifts, and if you’re going to be giving handmade gifts this year, it’s a good idea to get a head start and begin making them now, especially for lengthier projects like crochet or knit projects.

10 Ways To Start Saving For The Holidays Right Now - Homemade Gifts
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3. Use an App

There are lots of little apps like Acorns that help you save money. Every time you spend money, it rounds up the change and deposits the excess into a savings account. For example, if you spend $5.51, it will round up to $6.00 and put the extra $0.49 into savings. It’s a great way not to feel like you’re losing out on any money when you deposit it into savings, and it does it automatically so you won’t even notice it’s gone!

4. Develop a Spending Limit

If you’re doing work gifts or gifts between friends, it’s a good idea to keep it to a certain spending limit. Usually, $15 or $20 is a good limit for gift exchanges. It may also be time to approach the family about limiting the amount spent on gifts each year. Suggest drawing names, having a White Elephant gift exchange, or giving to charity instead.

White Elephant gift exchanges can be a lot of fun. Amazon is my favorite place to find unique options that are sure to make the recipient laugh.
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White Elephant gift exchanges can be a lot of fun. Amazon is my favorite place to find unique options that are sure to make the recipient laugh.

5. Shop Ahead of Time!

Hit up Black Friday sales and pre-holiday sales to maximize your savings. Don’t wait until the weeks leading up to Christmas to buy all your gifts; things will be marked up then, and you’ll be paying more than you would earlier on in the year. If you watch the price trends, you’ll find prices are lower in August and September than they are closer to the holidays. Use a free price tracker tool to watch the trends. My favorite is Price Zombie. It’s a browser add-on that lets me see comparison prices between stores in addition to price changes over time. But the best feature is that I can set a price alert for a product and Prize Zombie emails me when the item reaches the price I’ve set. This free program takes just a few minutes to set up and can save you so much money! Sadly, Prize Zombie is having issues with Amazon and it’s been rumored to have closed, however, as of 9/21/16, it’s still up and running. An alternative is Camel Camel Camel.

Price Zombie - Price tracker and comparison shopper with price alerts - spend less and know when the best time to buy is!
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6. Find Cheap and/or Free Holiday Activities and Entertainment

Check your local paper or your city’s Chamber of Commerce for a list of free or inexpensive activities for the holidays. Sometimes you can find great things like Christmas light displays, Christmas caroling outings, and more for free! Many events are already listed on local calendars. Pick your favorites and add them to your calendar so you don’t miss them.

10 Ways to Save Money for the Holiday - Free Entertainment - 2016 Seattle Holiday Entertainment Calendar
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Inexpensive or free 2016 holiday entertainment calendar of events for Seattle

7. Don’t Spend What you Don’t Have!

Try not to use credit cards for your holiday shopping. Use only what you have saved up for the holidays! Using credit might sound like a good idea, but if you can’t pay it off by your payment date, you’ll have interest tacked on, and you’ll be spending a lot more in the long run. Want to see the sobering reality of what it will cost you to pull out that credit card? Use the Cost of Credit Calculator from ConsumerCredit.com.

8. Plan a No-Spend  Month!

Leading up to the holidays, plan a no-spend month. Don’t spend any money during that month except for what you absolutely need (i.e., bills, loan payments, and groceries). A no-spend month is an excellent way to start saving for the holidays, and you’ll be surprised how much you can save in a month with no excess purchases! Use our free No-Spend Month Tracker Log printable to set and track your goal.

10 Easy Ways to Save Money for the Holiday - No-Spend Month Tracking Log - Free Printable - Little Changes Mean Big Savings
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9. Use Rewards Based Apps

You can get cash back for the purchases you make with programs like Swagbucks and Ibotta. When you buy through their links, you’ll earn points which are paid out via gift cards. I prefer a program that pays in cash. My favorite cashback program was FatWallet. I became a member in 2004, and just a few months ago, FatWallet became part of eBates. With their free membership, you shop online at your favorite stores like Amazon, Best Buy, drugstore.com, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Target and thousands more through their links or mobile app. By doing so, you’ll earn extra Cash Back on top any coupons and promo codes you use. By using these programs all year long, you can create a little Christmas fund to purchase stocking stuffers or gifts which you’ll also earn cashback for! Start using them now and save up!

10 Easy Ways to Save Money for the Holiday Use Cash Back Apps
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10. Move the holiday!

While Christmas is traditionally celebrated on December 25th, there’s no shame in moving it to the first week of January to save some money, especially if everyone could use the savings! Buy all your gifts after Christmas to take full advantage of the sales and maximize your saving for the holidays! It’s also a way to take some of the stress out of the season since you won’t be trying to squeeze too many events into just a few days.

10 Ways To Start Saving For The Holidays Right Now
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What other ways do you start saving for the holidays early? Let’s discuss in the comments below!