Trim the trimmings
Not one of my favorites cost-saving tricks – I love the aroma of a real tree – but artificial Christmas trees are definitely cheaper than live, especially in the long run. Spend $100 every year on that perfect, needle-strewn and eventually dried-out real deal, or $100 on a fake noble fir that you can use for many years.
Sell it online
Getting rid of old items can be a great way to put new gifts under the tree. Whether it’s a stash of unused gold and silver items, or a broken gerbil cage (I know someone who actually sold one for $30), there’s no time like the present to see what your unused items might generate in quick cash. We all know about Craigslist, but there are plenty of other online sites to choose from. Do a search online for the item you want to sell and see what pops up.
Cash and carry
The case for shopping on a cash-only basis is clear, but the top two reasons for avoiding plastic during the holidays are high-interest rates and controlled spending. Not only will you avoid exorbitant fees if you forsake the credit cards, you’ll most likely spend less by carrying cash, because when the green is gone the shopping’s done – game over.
Cut the landlines
And maybe the cable cord, too. Let’s face it, most of us use our cell phones 99 percent of the time, so getting rid of your “home phone” seems like a slam-dunk that could save as much as $500 a year. And while you’re at it, look at your cable bill. Do you really need all 450-plus channels? Dumping your landline and trimming your cable contract could net you an extra hundred dollars or so in time for the holidays. And once the season is over, you can use that extra money on a Netflix subscription or a few hundred trips to Redbox.
Purge your pantry
Admit it, we all have items tucked away in the back of our cupboards and pantries that have, shall we say, been there awhile and now’s the time to use them. Get creative and see what delicious dishes you can concoct from a can of white beans or a bag of rice. Add a few fresh ingredients and you’ve got dinner. Try this culinary adventure for a few weeks, and you’ll save some serious bank at the grocery story.
Make a list
And check it twice. While the importance of making a gift list and sticking to it seems obvious, it’s easy to let logic fly out the window as the shopping days grow short and the lists remain long. So before you head out the door to the mall, draw up a gift list, choose a price range, and stick to it. You’ll come home a lot faster, more successful and infinitely less stressed.
OK, sales are everywhere this time of year, but how do you know if you’re getting a truly good deal? Do your homework. The only way to know if an item is priced low is to know what the other guys are selling it for. So before you click, sign or hand over the cash for that flat screen or laptop, shop around. And if you order online, remember to figure in shipping charges. Sometimes it’s cheaper to just go to the merchandiser in person.