‘Tis the season to run up your credit card bill. While you love the act of giving, it’s pretty simple to go overboard for throughout the month of December — and that’s why it’s always good to rely on easy ways to save money that don’t require a lot of thought. Because, aside from money, you’re lacking a lot of brain power around the holidays — especially when the holidays fall after a year of bad news.
The first thing you might want to do is get a little real with yourself. Do you have any bad financial patterns you want to nip in the bud? Do you tend to buy things when you’re having a rough day? Or, do you shop every sale like there’s no tomorrow? These patterns are tough to change overnight, but they’re worth focusing on. Shopping can be addictive, and if you’re having trouble going a day without putting something in your virtual cart, it may be a bit trickier for you to save money.
Still, it’s always good to get a few tips on saving that you might not have thought of before. For example, sometimes we forget to shop around for better deals on things like insurance, or cable, or cell phone plans. Here are a few ways to save money that are even easier than sorting through contracts.
1. Save your change
It’s an old method, but it really does work. If you primarily use cash, there’s a good chance that you have a bunch of dimes and quarters floating around the bottom of your purse.
2. Try an automatic savings app
Apps like Digit and Acorns are around to help you save money — and with the latter, invest as well. As for Digit, it helps you save by adding a little to your account over time, without fear of an overdraft. You’ll have money in the bank before you know it.
3. Create lists before going grocery shopping
Makes sense, right? Well, here’s another thing — you’re going to need to stick to that list. That means no spontaneous purchases or temptations. Sure, those marshmallows look good, but your brain already told you they aren’t necessary this week.
4. Take advantage of your store savings cards
You’re used to scanning them in after every purchase, but do you ever take a look at your receipt? Some convenience stores offer free products, and some grocery stores offer discounts on gas or other items. Stores often run promos you might very well be blissfully unaware of. Use them, since it’ll help you save money.
5. Start DIYing your holiday gifts
Sure, it’s a bit late for it this year, but at least you can get a good idea on how much you’ve spent this year without having to dig too far into your credit card history. Since it’s great to start up a new craft at the start of every year, consider learning how to knit or crochet early on, and you could potentially be finished with your “shopping” before Halloween even hits.
6. Make your own coffee at home
Listen, we love Starbucks. We love Starbucks a lot. But we also know that a lot of our favorite specialty drinks aren’t the most cost-effective, especially if we get them on a weekly basis. Try making coffee at home for a month and see how much you’ve saved. (Then, feel free to treat yourself to a frappuccino.)
7. Consider buying the store brand
Some products may seem a little different, but most of them are exactly the same. If you don’t really care about brand names, you can save money on groceries in a pinch. Even better, the store brand items are located right next to the regular kind, so you won’t need to get reacquainted with your grocery store.
8. Invite friends to your place
Socialization often requires a lot of money. Instead of hitting up a bar, where drinks and tips and appetizers can get out of control, consider inviting the gang to your place. Whether you choose to enforce a BYOB or a potluck situation (or maybe both) it’ll help you save money. Plus, maybe you’ll be inspired to bust out a board game that’s been hiding in your closet for years, thus starting up a new tradition with your buddies.