Ahh, the holidays! It’s one of my favorites times of the year, but can quickly become one of the most expensive. Between gifts, travel, entertaining and the fact that we have a new addition in our home, things add up really fast! Whenever I’m trying to cut back, I employ these simple tricks on how to save money and simply pay attention to my credit card statement on a daily basis. It’s crazy how many little things I buy throughout my day that I forget about!
These money savings tips will are great for saving during the holidays, but will work just about anytime of the year! Ready to start saving?
Make Coffee at Home: If part of your morning routine includes a stop at your local coffee shop, this one is an easy way to save money. Simply wake up a few minutes earlier and make your coffee at home. It’s worth buying a travel mug that holds the heat in too so your coffee stays warm during your commute.
Pack your Lunch: I work from home. So, I typically do make my lunch at home. However if you work in an office, this probably isn’t the case for you. It’s tempting and convenient to pop out of the office and grab lunch next door. Or order takeout. But packing a lunch in advance will save you a ton of money each week. Plus, you can guarantee that your lunch is healther (depending on what you pack) than what you’d get at the deli.
Happy Hour: If someone suggests happy hour, it’s tough to turn down! I have two tricks for this. One, host happy hour at your place. Wine is much cheaper to buy at the grocery store and serve at home than it is by the glass at a restaurant. Two, go to happy hour, but skip the drinks. If you feel weird not drinking, order a club soda with lime. After being pregnant I know how much it stinks to just have water. Mocktails and club soda were my best friends!
Entertain at Home: Instead of making plans for dinner and drinks out on the town, plan a game night at your place. Dining out is where we spend a good chunk of our money each week. Staying in or entertaining at home just one night of the weekend can make a big difference in your overall spending!
Carry Cash: Credit cards are wonderful things. They’re easy to use and I won’t lie, I love the miles that we get from using them, but if you’re really trying to cut back, this tip is gold! Decide what you want to spend in a week, go to the bank and pull that much out in cash. Do a little planning for your week. Figure out which things you have to do and which things you can cut out. Physically paying in cash makes it easier to see how much you’re spending. It will make you more conscience of your habits.
Take Public Transit or Carpool: I’m lucky enough to live in a city with great and affordable public transportation system. I rely on Uber way too much and that adds up. Planning extra travel time into my schedule is not that hard. Plus, taking the train or bus cuts costs a lot. If you don’t have public transit in your city, try carpooling with a friend to work and you’ll save on gas money.
Make Brunch at Home: It’s tempting to get friends together on the weekend and head out for brunch, but making it at home can be just as fun! Have everyone bring a dish or chip in a few bucks for your groceries and host at home!
Meal Plan: Yes, planning meals can be a bit time-consuming, but if you sit down on Sunday morning and figure out a few simple, healthy dinners for the week, make a list and shop that afternoon, you’ll save a lot! Cooking dinner at home is always more affordable than going out. Its also usually healthier as you have total control over the ingredients. Meal planning makes grocery shopping more efficient. You don’t end up with stuff you won’t end up using. Your grocery bill might be higher than normal this week, but if you eat most of your meals at home, or bring them to work, you’ll save a lot more than you’d spend buying your lunch everyday or ordering takeout for dinner.
Look for Sale Items: While you’re at the store, look for sales and deals! Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s always seem to have random wines, veggies, fruits, meats and more on sale! It’s a fun way to try something new and save at the same time!
Eat More Vegetarian Meals: If you’re a meat eater, this one might be tough to swallow, but every time I serve a vegetarian dish, Rob is always surprisingly full. Vegetables are cheaper than meat, poultry or fish and are more affordable. Plus, it’s good to let your body have a break from animal protein every once and a while!
Ditch the Gifts: Instead of doing a gift exchange with friends, just get together with your for appetizers and wine (and serve that wine you found on sale!). The older I get, the less stuff I need, and the real reason for parties like this are to see my friends! When it’s not the holidays, the same goes for birthdays—just treat the birthday girl to lunch and write a nice heart-felt card instead of doing a gift!
Do you find that you spend more this time of year? Do you have any tips and tricks on the best ways to save money?