Written by Bernie Carr
Christmas is almost upon us, which means additional expenses for gifts, food and other holiday related expenses like decorations. When you are already on a tight budget, it’s hard to find new ways to save.
Here are a few ideas:
Pare down your gift list
Now is a good time to review your recipient list. With the pandemic continuing to spread, many states are on the verge of locking down again. There’s a good chance you won’t see everyone you normally see during the holidays – would a nice Christmas card suffice?
A lot of people are cutting back, and may feel pressured to come up with a gift for everyone even though they can’t afford it. They may be relieved to have the conversation about holding off on exchanging gifts this year, you know, because of COVID. Everyone will understand.
Call your utility company
I was surprised to find out that in many states, utility companies offer discounted rates for households below a certain income level. If you’ve lost your job, or have had financial set backs this year, it doesn’t hurt to contact your utility company to see if you qualify.
Negotiate new plans and rates
My discounted rates with my internet were scheduled to expire a month ago and my bill went up. I called the internet company and explained the new rate would cause difficulty on the budget. They readjusted the rate and it was actually lower than the original discounted rate.
Review your cell phone plan and data plan usage. If you find you are using much less data than your plan provides, perhaps you can go to a lower cost tier.
Compare prices on car insurance – all too often, we get used to renewing with the same company year after year without thinking about whether another company may be able to over the same coverage at a lower rate.
A couple of years ago, we did just that. After being with one insurer for over 10 years and getting higher rates every year, we decided to shop around. When we ask our current insurance company if they can beat the rate we were being offered in consideration of our 10 years of loyal service with them, they said no, they do not offer anything for current clients, only new clients. We switched and we never missed the old insurer.
If you get discounts, add the amount to your savings.
Refinance your car loan
If you have a car loan and decent credit, shop around other banks and see if you can refinance your auto loan. Not m
Cancel services you’re not using
Evaluate all your recurring expenses for services and ask yourself if you have been utilizing these services in the last few months:
You may have hundreds of channels but don’t have the time to watch. Call your cable company and reduce your channels down to a lower priced option. My Dad was spending $120 a month on cable channels – he recently decided to switch to free channels with a Netflix subscription. We got rid of our cable service years ago – here’s what we switched to.
Do you have various subscriptions to magazines and subscription services such as music, apps you don’t use? Sometimes we get used to the charges month after month and the charges just appear on the credit card.
Do you have a gym membership that you are unable to use due to the pandemic? Perhaps it’s time to review your contract and see if you can cancel the membership and find another way to exercise. Read the fine print though, some memberships will charge you a large penalty fee for cancelling before the term is up. So read your contract carefully and make a note of any penalties for early cancellation.
Shop less often
We switched our grocery shopping schedule to once every two weeks instead of weekly and we stick to the budgeted amount. Shopping less often helps you avoid picking up impulse items.
We needed to replace some juice glasses that had broken over the years. Both Target and Walmart were low on stock for these glasses, and Amazon was too expensive. We went to our local Goodwill and found the perfect replacements at $0.69 each, a fraction of what we would have spent for a new set.
Cut down on meat
Meat has gotten more expensive lately so we started planning meals using no meat or less meat. You don’t need to become a vegetarian; instead, make meals where meat is not the main ingredient. Instead of a steak dinner, opt for stir fry dishes, stews, soups, pasta or tacos.
Use cash only for a month
A while back we went on the debit card diet. We switched to using only cash for a month. By having the exact amount available, we challenged ourselves to not only stay within budget but have some cash left over at the end of the month.
Compare gas prices
Use an app such as Gasbuddy to compare gas prices in your area or while driving.
Even when money is tight, there are areas you may not have considered. Hopefully this gave you a few ideas on saving some money.
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About the author:
Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.
Staying out of debt and saving money is critical. Excessive debts will lower your credit score, and that can hurt your chances of being selected for a new job, when you are unemployed. Bad credit scores also will not help your chances of being promoted or of being retained during cutbacks.