15-day Holiday Money Saving Challenge

a planned list for holiday spending with holiday decorative objects surrounding the list.

Saving money before the holidays is a challenge. The demand to spend increases, but chances are, your paychecks are the same amount they’ve always been. That said, there are ways to save a bit more by making a few simple lifestyle changes. Join our 15-day holiday savings challenge and rack up some extra change! The sooner you start, the more you’ll save.

Day 1 Challenge: Avoid Personal Shopping

This is one of the most important rules to set before you start holiday shopping. While you’re gift hunting for family and friends, it’s easy to get caught up with your own wish list.

Avoid trying on clothes and shoes, and don’t buy anything that isn’t a must-have. Check your online cart before checking out and remove anything that doesn’t cross out someone on your list. This rule can easily save you hundreds of dollars throughout your gifting season.

Day 2 Challenge: Take Advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Some Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are worth skipping, but there are many ways to take advantage of these national savings days. Some of the deals to look out for are brand-specific products on that brand’s site. For example, get the best deal on any Amazon products – like an Amazon Fire TV Stick –  during Cyber Monday by shopping on Amazon’s site. The same likely goes for most technology and popular clothing brands.

Pro Tip: Some stores will have even steeper sales after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events. If it’s not a must-have gift and you’re willing to take the risk, consider waiting to see if the price drops.

Day 3 Challenge: No Drinks December

You’ve heard of – or even participated in – “Sober October”. The idea of this trendy challenge, which has really taken hold in the past few years, is to avoid drinking any alcohol for the whole month.

Not only does this help save money, but it also improves your health in many ways. Whether you enjoy a glass of wine in the evening or a couple of beers with dinner on the weekend, cut it out for December and save what you’d otherwise have spent.

Day 4 Challenge: Strategically Budget Your Holiday Gifting

It’s easy to get carried away when gifting for your loved ones. Consequently, it’s incredibly important to set a per-person budget and stick to it. You might spend a bit more on your kids and a bit less on your nieces and nephews. Either way, set the budget and only allow yourself to buy gifts that won't break the bank.

Learn More: Creating a Budget 101

Day 5 Challenge: Make Minimum Payments

While we would never usually recommend this, save the extra cash this December and drop your debt payments to the minimum.

Keep in mind, if your payments are already at the minimum, that’s a sure sign of debt problems. We have real people available to help you manage your finances. Contact us today for a free debt analysis and find ways to get out of debt faster.

More Resources: 10 Ways to Get Out of Debt Fast

Day 6 Challenge: Get a Library Card for Movie Rentals

Rather than renting on Redbox or Amazon, head to your nearest public library and explore their movie rental options. This will save you money and also give you the opportunity to rent multiple movies for more than 24 hours. Plus, the library often has a great variety of new releases and older, classic films.

Day 7 Challenge: Sell Clothes or Home Items to Consignment Stores

Get a kick-start on spring cleaning and make some extra cash this holiday season by cleaning out your closets. There are plenty of consignment stores that buy clothes on the spot.

Some require the items to be seasonal or trendy to hand over any cash. Other stores will pay you after your items sell. Dig through your drawers and see if you have any trendy items that don’t fit your lifestyle anymore!

Day 8 Challenge: Contain the Temptation to Host Friends

Holiday-themed dinners and parties go hand-in-hand with the festive season. That said, hosting these parties can cost a pretty penny by the end of the night. Unless you’re traditionally obligated to host a party, consider skipping it this year. You’ll save at least a hundred dollars – probably more – and your friends will likely pick up the slack.

You’re halfway through the challenge! Gauge your financial success by hopping on the phone with one of our counselors:

Gauge your success.

Day 9 Challenge: Limit Who You’re Gifting To

The holidays aren’t all about gifts, but it can be easy to get caught up in the giving spirit. While you might like to give a gift to all your friends, neighbors, and coworkers, the cost of doing so will really add up.

If someone gives you a gift, you will likely feel obligated to return the gesture. Something simple will do the trick, and many stores have great deals on unique, inexpensive items like candles and soaps.

Day 10 Challenge: Plan a White Elephant or Secret Santa

Rather than giving gifts to all your close friends and coworkers, consider organizing a white elephant or secret Santa gift exchange. Not only is this a great way to reduce the number of people you feel obligated to buy a gift for, but it also provides the opportunity for a great event! Make sure you set a reasonable cost limit for gifts – $20 should suffice.

Couple your gift exchange with a holiday potluck or cookie exchange and embrace the holiday season at its finest. Plus, save a ton of money by buying one gift rather than a dozen.

Day 11 Challenge: Gift Something Small Yet Personalized

Homemade items bring a special warmth to the holiday season. Spend a Sunday afternoon making festive cookies, candied nuts, or flavorful snack mix. Then, box them up in jars or tins that you can easily purchase at the nearest dollar store.

Make these items a yearly tradition and your friends and neighbors will always appreciate your signature holiday gift.

Day 12 Challenge: Keep Christmas Dinner Simple

Even if each member of your family has different holiday dinner preferences, keep your menu simple. Choose one meat for the main course – whether it’s prime rib, turkey, or ham. If you’re hosting and cooking most of the meal, it’s acceptable to choose whichever you prefer to cook.

Plus, most of your guests will offer to bring something. Let them know what you’re planning on making, which gives them the opportunity to bring something else if they wish.

Day 13 Challenge: Price Match all Gift Purchases

Almost every store's price matches with competitors for the same item. During the holidays, stores are competitive with prices. That said, some stores are inherently more expensive than others. Make sure to look at online prices and do a bit of shopping around before committing to an item – especially an expensive purchase like electronics.

Day 14 Challenge: Capitalize on Coupons

Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, look for coupons. Many stores have coupons in the paper, and some – like grocery stores – have apps dedicated to digital coupons.

Especially during the holidays, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a coupon for the store or items you’re looking for. Save a little extra money by taking the time to dig for savings!

Day 15 Challenge: Ship Your Gifts Early

The longer you wait, the higher the risk that you’ll have to pay for expedited shipping. Rather than waiting until the last few days, get to the post office a couple of weeks before you would like the gifts to arrive. This also allows your giftees the opportunity to organize the gift under the tree or in the house before the big day.

The Challenge Continues!

Congratulations! If you’ve made it through the full 15-day Holiday Money Saving Challenge, you’re probably ready to relax and enjoy the holidays. Take a few minutes to reflect on the money-saving tips that worked best for you. Then, subscribe to our newsletter to get financial advice sent right to your inbox!

If you need help with credit or debt, or want to learn more about budgeting or personal finance, get started with free, confidential counseling and education right here at Credit.org.

Article written by
Melinda Opperman
Melinda Opperman is an exceptional educator who lives and breathes the creation and implementation of innovative ways to motivate and educate community members and students about financial literacy. Melinda joined credit.org in 2003 and has over two decades of experience in the industry.

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