Don't think "holiday season" and "saving money" go together? It's time to forget about that ethos. Keeping more green in your wallet or a higher balance in your bank account is simpler than you think this time of year—so long as you have a few savvy tips in your arsenal. Dana Marineau, VP and financial advocate at Credit Karma shared her best tips for saving money during the holiday season with Southern Living. Read on and save up.
1. Plan ahead with a budget.
You may have heard it before, but it bears repeating if you're looking to save money: "A budget can be a helpful way to keep your holiday spending in check. Once you create a budget that includes paying off your existing debts, you can plan to set aside a certain amount for holiday expenses," says Marineau.
2. Audit all your subscriptions.
Do you really need Hulu, HBO GO, and Netflix? Probably not. But that doesn't mean you've canceled one or more of them. "Today, there are endless subscriptions you can sign up for—TV, music, clothes, books, and more—that may seem to make your life easier, but monthly subscriptions can add up quickly, especially if you’re automatically paying for these services each month," says Marineau. "Be honest with yourself about how much you actually these services and trim down where you can. You can always sign up again if you end up missing it down the road."
3. Start saving for your future self.
"Let your money work for you. Consider opening a high-yield savings account, where your money can earn interest and grow over time. Credit Karma Savings is one great example of high-yield savings accounts, which are 100% free and help you start saving in minutes," says Marineau. In addition to earning interest on your money for the future, putting say, $100 a month into your a high-yield savings account, can help you budget to spend less this winter when you put the funds directly into savings.
4. Carry cash.
"This may seem simple, but carrying cash can help limit your card use and curb your spending. Each time you go to pay for something, you’ll have to pull out the exact amount and pay in the moment, which may make you think twice before spending," says Marineau. Take out a designated amount of money each Monday for your cash purchases, and challenge yourself to make it last until the next week.
WATCH: 5 Browser Tricks That Will Save You Money
5. Organize a gift exchange with family and friends.
'Tis the season...to overspend on holiday gifts. Not anymore: "Instead of buying dozens of gifts for every friend and family member, ask if anyone is willing to do a group gift exchange. This way, everyone agrees to only buy one or two gifts total. You can set a cost limit, too, to keep things fair," says Marineau. For some inspiration, check out Christmas Gifts Under $10 (That Look Anything But Cheap).
6. Take advantage of loyalty programs.
"If you shop at specific stores often, loyalty programs can help you save in a big way year-round. From free shipping to exclusive sales, being a part of a loyalty program can help you save that much more around the holidays," says Marineau. Of course, you'll have to be careful that joining such a program doesn't inspire you to spend more than you otherwise would, so again, setting and sticking to a budget proves key.
7. Sleep on it.
"Often times, impulse spending can cause serious buyer’s remorse down the line. If you hesitate at all before buying something on the expensive side, consider giving it a day and thinking about it. If you wake up the next day and still feel strongly about buying it, and it won’t cause you to overspend, go for it," says Marineau. The majority of the time, however, you may realize you really don't need that third pair of black boots or that digital picture frame, after all.
What are your favorite tips for saving money during the holiday season? We'd love to know your best strategies for keeping holiday spending in check.