With summer behind us and autumn activities beckoning, it’s reality: Holiday shopping season is just weeks away.
Saving an extra $500 now will add to your festivities while keeping holiday debt hangover at bay. It doesn’t have to be painful. Put $72 a week away now, and you’ll have $504 by Black Friday (Nov. 23).
By contrast, charge $500 in holiday purchases on a credit card with a typical 15 percent interest rate and pay only a minimum of $20 a month, and it will take you two years and seven months to be rid of this year’s holiday debt.
By then, you will have repaid more than $600, including more than $100 in interest that could have been invested instead.
Saving ahead is a much better choice. Here are 11 ways to make it happen:
1. Check your everyday spending
PKpix / Shutterstock.com
Track your spending with a paper and pen, or a free service, such as You Need a Budget, a partner of Money Talks News. Seeing where your money goes will help you find places to save.
Need more help? Check out “4 Rules for Creating a Painless Budget.”
2. Declutter for dollars
Kellis / Shutterstock.com
Sell that stuff you don’t use anymore and is just taking up room in your home, garage or, worse, in a rented storage unit. Clear a room every week — and your basement, attic and garage — and you might make enough to pay for all your holiday shopping. When the holidays roll around, you’ll also have a tidier home.
You may also want to seek a local consignment shop to sell your goods for you. While many consignment stores specialize in clothing, some focus on antiques, baby items or furniture.
3. Pocket insurance savings
Nyanza / Shutterstock.com
Increasing your deductible from $250 to $1,000 on your car or homeowners insurance policy could put a couple hundred bucks in your pocket. A deductible is the amount of money you agree to pay on an insurance claim before your coverage kicks in.
Savings vary by state and depend on how much you raise the deductible.
4. Pare monthly payments
Aleksander Markin / Shutterstock.com
Drop a gym membership and instead get cheap workout equipment, or just walk, bike or jog your way to fitness. Curtail your cable bill by cutting out premium channels or cutting the cord altogether. In the age of smartphones, see if losing your landline will save you money.
5. Withhold less
Idutko / Shutterstock.com
Do you get a big income tax refund every April? If so, you’re letting Uncle Sam hold on to more of your paycheck — interest-free — than you need to. You can file a new W-4 with your employer so the company will withhold less each pay period, letting you save more sooner.
You might put to good use money you normally wouldn’t see until next spring.
6. Bank your savings
pogonici / Shutterstock.com
Make a goal, like figuring out how much in total you want to spend for each person on your gift list — then divide that figure by the number of weeks left to save and deposit that amount weekly into a savings account set up just for the holidays. Some banks and credit unions let you set up a sub-account in your regular savings account to accumulate your holiday cash.
You might also boost your automatic payroll deductions at work and have them sent directly to the savings account, or have your bank automatically transfer a set amount weekly from your checking account to your savings account.
7. Get crafty
Agnes Kantaruk / Shutterstock.com
Cash in on the handmade gifts craze by selling your creations. From yard sales and local holiday craft fairs to selling online to a global audience, opportunities abound.
8. Get a gig
Kzenon / Shutterstock.com
Let a new revenue stream flow your way by taking advantage of the gig economy, which affords you great flexibility.
9. Get a seasonal job
Marcin Balcerzak / Shutterstock.com
Major retailers are already advertising for seasonal workers. These jobs typically include many salespeople in the stores and many warehouse workers to fulfill orders. But they also may need loss-prevention specialists, merchandisers, customer service reps, equipment operators and delivery people.
Also, look for signs in stores around your town. Holiday festivities mean cafes and pizza shops will need to staff up, as well as hire more people to deliver pizzas and hand out take-out menus and fliers.
Check out: “11 Tips to Get Hired for the Holidays”
10. Take online surveys
Rasulov / Shutterstock.com
Companies looking for feedback are willing to pay for your thoughts in online surveys. Some companies, including Swagbucks, offer surveys and pay in reward points, gift cards and money.
For much more on that topic, read: “Earn Up to $2,700 a Year Watching Videos, Answering Surveys.”
11. Dine in
Nadya Lukic / Shutterstock.com
Why not let your wallet get fat while you make your own dinners? And don’t forget lunches — brown bagging could save you about $5 a day. And while you may not have to forgo all your tall Pumpkin Spice Lattes, each time you make coffee at home instead of ordering from your favorite barista means you could instead put about $4 in the bank.
Share your holiday savings ideas with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.