25 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays

The holidays are no longer around the corner—they are here!

Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are three major holidays celebrated in the month of December that emphasize the importance of spreading kindness and sharing.

Unfortunately, this desire to share holiday cheer often goes unchecked, and can take a serious toll on your savings if you are not careful. Instead of settling for debt, there are ways to save money during the holidays you can utilize to lessen your financial burden this month. Next year, you can start the new year on top!

Below are 25 simple ways to save money during the holidays. Although you certainly do not need to practice all of them, it is essential you keep in mind this perspective while conducting your official holiday activities.

1. Make (and keep) a list of holiday purchases and gifts before you go shopping. By making a holiday shopping list, you do two important things. First, you virtually guarantee you will not be tempted to buy any last-minute gifts that are unimportant and costly. Second, you can easily tally up the total amount before you begin purchasing—allowing you to balance your budget and change items if necessary. This is always much better than surprised with a huge bill at the end of the month.

2. Don’t feel obligated to show your affection by purchasing a gift. Although we are taught that we must give gifts this holiday season, the truth of the matter is not all gifts have to be bought. Instead, show a loved one you care by simply spending quality time together, or making your own gift out of materials laying around. Purchased items not necessary.

3. Purchase and trade-in clothing at local vintage/thrift stores. Not only will purchasing clothing and goods at vintage stores save you money, but the gifts you will be getting will be one of a kind. You can also bring your unwanted goods in and get cash or trade-in credit. Say goodbye (at least for now) to expensive retail, and say hello to big-time holiday savings!

4. Re-gift items. We all know that feeling of receiving a gift we don’t love. Instead of just having it lying around the house gathering dust, dust it off and wrap it in a package for a loved one to enjoy. Not only will you be saving the cost of purchasing a new gift, you will be spreading kindness while helping out the environment by recycling.

5. Throw a community pot-luck. Eating at restaurants over the holidays can be ridiculously costly. Instead, host community pot luck for your friends, family, and neighbors. This way, everyone can contribute food and enjoy it in each other’s company, all whilst saving everyone money.

6. Organize a Secret Santa gift exchange. Instead of buying gifts for all of your friends or family, instead have a Secret Santa gift exchange take place. This way, you only need to worry about one gift per exchange, not one gift for each person.

7. Volunteer your time instead of purchasing a gift. If you want a gift to really be meaningful, help out around your community instead of purchasing a gift. You can also get your friends and family to do the same. Not only will this save everyone money, it will also make your community a better place to live in.

8. Offer your services for free. If you operate your own service-based company, work freelance, or have any special skills, give out free services to your friends and family as gifts. Say for example you are a photographer. Instead of buying your friends and family gifts, instead offer them free photoshoots!

9. Make a coupon book. In the spirit of giving, instead of purchasing costly gifts for loved ones, present them with homemade coupon books. You can give them vouchers for free back massages, help cleaning up, offer to be their running partner, or anything else you can think of. Use your imagination—your friends and family will love you for it!

10. Pet sit or babysit for friends over the holiday. Undoubtedly you will know somebody who is going out of town or would like to have some time away from their children. Offer to help watch their children, or pets they are gone. You don’t need to charge a lot, and every amount of savings will help you this season!

11. Have a garage sale or sale your unwanted goods online. The end of the year is a perfect time to eliminate clutter in your house. You can make money selling this unwanted junk at a garage sale or on online websites such as eBay. The money you get often can pay for a holiday season entirely.

12. Collect loose change around the house. Dimes, nickels, quarters, and pennies are everywhere. All you have to do is empty your pockets, look in cabinets, underneath sofa cushions and they will appear. Most banks provide free paper coin rolls that you wrap your coins in and then deposit the funds directly into your account—or get cash for future spending.

13. Purchased refurbished electronics. Most companies and vendors offer factory-refurbished products that are guaranteed to be in excellent condition. The only thing is, the price is cheaper! This way, you can save large amounts of money while still getting the product you want.

14. Bake or cook a present! Instead of buying a gift, if you have a gift for baking and cooking, use it! Just makes sure you know of any relevant food allergies before you begin preparations. Your gift will be most appreciated.

15. Recycle goods. Although it might be a little late now, you can make a lot of money throughout the year by recycling cans and bottles at recycling centers. This money can instead be wisely used to cover your holiday spending.

16. Buy an older model product. Although advertising campaigns might tell you you need the newest, most expensive product, guess what? Next year they’ll be saying the same thing about the newest, most expensive product too. Break the cycle, get a previous, awesome model, and your wallet will thank you.

17. When making purchases, use a rewards card. Many credit card companies offer benefits to cardholders such as 1% money-back or rewards spending at certain outlets. Although the discount might not be massive, your savings will certainly add up.

18. Brew your own coffee. Instead of spending four or five dollars per cup, invest in a cheap coffee machine and brew your own. This will save you money in the short and long-term, and can be enjoyed by all your family.

19. Kick your costly vices. For many, the holidays are a stressful time. As a result, people heavily turn to alcohol and tobacco. Not only are these habits costly, but they are also serious health hazards. Instead of spending your money and good health on the consumption of these items, instead turn over a new leaf and find a natural way to reduce your stress. Instead of drinking alcohol, drink juice. Instead of smoking cigarettes, try quitting and finding a healthy replacement, like carrot sticks.

20. Rent a movie for free from the library. Instead of bringing your family to a movie theater, instead rent a movie from the library for free and stage your own viewing party. Not only will you save lots of money on tickets, but you can also afford such home-made luxuries as chips and popcorn for a fraction of the price.

21. Eat smaller and save more. Whether you are at a restaurant or having a home-cooked meal, do not eat beyond excess. The leftover food you can save as leftovers to be reused another day.

22. Make alternative travel arrangements. It is no secret, traveling between Christmas and New Years is among the most expensive times to travel. After early January, prices teeter off greatly. If you are able to delay a vacation for another month or so, you will save a massive amount of money by doing so.

23. Make use of a community holiday events. Join the holiday cheer and attend a holiday event in Los Angeles. Whether it is a free viewing of Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills or ice skating in Pershing Square, there is no shortage of free or low-cost holiday events going on.

24. Make a holiday playlist! If you want to show you care through music but are unable to spend the time or money on purchasing albums or making your own(!), instead make a holiday playlist on such sites as Spotify and YouTube to share with your loved ones. Although unorthodox, it will be a gift they will long remember.

25. Eliminate meat from your diet. Although traditionally consumed this time of year, meat is expensive to both produce and to purchase. Consider eliminating it, and in its place cook lots of vegetables, legumes, and comfort foods. You won’t even notice it’s gone.

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