The holiday season comes with a hefty price tag. Between holiday shopping, family get-togethers, and travel, costs rack up quickly. With inflation rising, half of the U.S. population (51%) is cutting back on other areas of spending to save for holiday gift shopping this year, according to a recent Survey Junkie poll.
Now that the season’s biggest sales are behind us, you might still be looking for other ways to cover costs. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of ways to save money or earn a little extra this holiday season so that your gift list doesn’t swallow your savings. And you’ve come to the right place for them!
Through these little-known ways to cover holiday costs, you can cross off the last item on your gift list with confidence and spend your holiday season with a little less financial stress.
1. Download Cashback and Coupon Apps
With cashback and coupon apps, you can reduce your bill while placing a little money back in your wallet . You’ll rarely find yourself paying full price for gifts. Here are a couple you might want to check out.
Gone are the days of coupon clipping, but Coupons.com comes with an app where you can essentially link your store loyalty program to their coupons. They manage the grocery store coupons for you so that you’re done with paper. It’s that easy!
RetailMeNot is another great coupon finder when you are shopping online or in-person. I use their app all the time while holiday shopping. Not only can you unearth 20% – 30% coupons, but you can also get larger and more expensive free gifts with purchases at stores like Sephora.
2. Take Paid Surveys
Another way to earn holiday savings for your family gift list, get-together groceries or train tickets is to join a survey site. These companies pay you to take surveys for them and your answers serve as market research for some of the world’s most popular brands and products..
To ease the stress of holiday spending, try Survey Junkie. It’s one of the most trusted brands for paid surveys and has a community of more than 20 million members. While people rely on Survey Junkie to earn extra cash and gift cards all year long, many members use their rewards to cover holiday expenses.
It’s free to join and all you need to do to get started is create an account and fill out your profile with your demographic information. Your daily survey matches appear on your dashboard.
You can earn as much as $40 monthly if you complete three surveys daily, adding extra cushion for your holiday shopping. You can redeem for cash via PayPal or bank transfer, or get paid via gift cards to major retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Sephora, and more to buy presents for your family.
Taking paid surveys in your spare time is a great way to earn extra cash for holiday expenses.
3. Buy Gifts in Bulk
If you keep an eye out while shopping, you can spot amazing deals, many of which come in bulk. I just bought three packages of five hand lotion tubes at Costco for $11 each with a great coupon deal. That’s almost $2 per tube.
And I’m not alone. The majority of Survey Junkie members with wholesale club memberships (71%) said they’re planning on using their membership perks during the holiday shopping season to save money.
Here are some bulk items sure to come in handy during the holiday season:
- Hand lotions
- Lip balm
While not exactly the kinds of gifts you’d wrap up with a big bow and give to your spouse or children, these items make great stocking stuffers. These items are also great for last-minute gift bags you may need to whip up for coworkers, your mail person or a neighbor.
4. Leverage Brand Loyalty Programs
There are actually companies that will reward you for a membership or for spending money with them. Your brand or store loyalty means a lot to them.
Yet even though 81% of people are in brand loyalty programs, less than one third of consumers plan to use these programs to save money during the holidays. It could be that they’re unaware of the savings and deals available through these programs. Whatever the case, now is the perfect time to check the websites and apps of your loyalty programs to learn how you can take full advantage of your membership.
I recently got a $35 off coupon card for any pair of shoes under $50 at DSW. That means I can get a pair of shoes for $15. That’s a major steal!
Here are some great companies that offer loyalty programs:
- Sephora Insider
- Starbucks Rewards
- Amazon Prime
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Bed Bath & Beyond
If you would like to keep your holiday expenses down, consider devoting your entire gift budget to one store to maximize the benefits of their brand loyalty program!
5. Sell Items in Your Home
It turns out, your own home may be a treasure trove of extra cash to help with the many expenses of the holidays. Unused or lightly used items that you no longer need may be of great value to someone else. You can sell these items to raise extra cash for your holiday shopping.
Here are some items you might sell for some profit:
- Home decor
- Bikes and trikes
- Camping equipment
- Exercise equipment
- Pet supplies
List them on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and/or eBay with thorough descriptions and well-lit pictures.
Decluttr or Amazon Trade-In are also excellent websites to trade your used electronics for cash or an Amazon gift card. You can get the valuation of your items instantly online, and print a free shipping label on their websites.
6. Earn with Credit Card Rewards
Most credit cards offer rewards and they can help you get a bit more mileage out of your holiday budget. Two highly rated credit cards for cash back are the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card has a rewards rate of 2% with an intro offer of $200, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited card gives 1.5% – 6.5% back. If you do a lot of holiday shopping on Amazon like I do, you can earn 3% on all your purchases on Amazon with Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.
7. Make Your Own Gifts
If your budget doesn’t allow for gift-shopping this holiday, consider giving gifts that you can make yourself. You can save money by shopping the sales or buying your supplies in bulk. Here are some ideas:
- Knit scarves, beanies, or blankets
- Etch beautiful letters on wood
- Make a homemade cocoa station
- Personalize ornaments
- Package cookie or bread mix in a mason jar
- Bake cookies or yummy food
- Make scented candles or bath bombs
- Create beautiful stationary or bookmarks
If you have a Cricut, you can make your own personalized t-shirts, socks, towels, or hats for family and friends. People might even think they’re professionally made.
My family once made Asian pickles for Christmas gifts, and friends asked non-stop for the recipe long after the holiday. People love delicious food, especially if it’s well-made.
8. Cover Travel with Gas Rewards
For people who travel a lot to visit family during the holiday season, one thing you can do is conserve your holiday expenses on gas. There are many ways to do this.
With Shell Fuel Rewards, you can earn $0.10 per gallon for every $50 you spend at a restaurant, $0.20 per gallon for shopping online, and so forth.
Most of your markets also have rewards on gas. You simply have to shop for groceries and then input your rewards card info at the pump; your gas discount will be dependent on how much you spent at the grocery store. Kroger’s Fuel Points Program and Safeway Just for you Fuel Rewards are two excellent options.
If you have a Costco membership, you can typically pump gas at any local Costco for an average of 21 cents less per gallon than other gas stations.
9. Spend Less on Regular Expenses
Though it may be painful at first, one of the best ways to save money is to pull back on expenditures. Holiday budgeting is a great way to jump start smarter budget management in the new year.
You might be pleasantly surprised at how easily you acclimate to more mindful management of your expenses, and you may keep up the good habit! Here are some simples ways you can cut down on extra expenses:
- Cancel your cable.
- Make your own coffee at home.
- Make your own lunches to take to work.
- Turn off your A/C and heater more often.
- Get rid of your gym membership and exercise at home.
- Alter your meal plans based on what’s on sale at the market.
- Unplug electronics that are not in use.
- Carpool to work.
Even if you commit to doing these things for a couple months, it could save you hundreds of dollars that will come in handy for holiday shopping and paying off those credit cards after the last gift is opened.
10. Shop in Dollar Stores or Thrift Stores
You might balk at the idea of buying gifts from the dollar store or at the thrift store, like I initially did, but you might also be surprised at what you can find.
My family has been able to give some very beautiful $1 mugs as gifts that would normally cost $15. At the very least, turn to the dollar store for gift wrap, bags, and boxes. Here are a few other gifts that you can find for $1:
- Coloring books
- Holiday decor
- Markers, crayons, paint
- Office Supplies
At Below Five, I have been able to buy a lot of $1 practical joke gifts for children:
- Snap gum
- Fake money
- Fake insects
- Squirt gum
- Snake in a can
These are excellent stocking stuffers or small gifts for your kids’ friends. Kids really do love these inexpensive, fun gifts and they enjoy using them on others. Don’t be surprised if they become the highlight of the holiday gathering.
Have a fantastic holiday season!
If you stack these ways to save money with ongoing holiday sales, you’ll be able to knock a lot off of your holiday spending.
With these tools in mind, I hope you can enjoy your holiday season without the stress of holiday expenses weighing you down. You and your loved ones can keep your holiday spending in check while enjoying one another and the magic of the season.