The holidays are quickly approaching, which means big spending for many. Don’t end up with a huge credit card bill in January, instead, use these tips and tricks to help make Christmas more affordable.
Ah Christmas. Is there anything better? I have 3 young children and their joy and excitement for the holidays has made Christmas such a blessing for me. But of course, with Christmas comes a price tag.
It can be quite easy to spend, spend, spend, leaving you with a hefty credit hangover in January. This is certainly something that I’ve been guilty of in the past, but with more money saving and making tricks up my sleeve, the holiday cash drain is a lot less.
Here are my best tips for making Christmas more affordable!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure here.
Shop Year Round
I start my Christmas shopping on Boxing Day. No word of a lie. All year long I watch for sales and promos on items that I know my kids will love, and then stash them away for the next year (or birthday, or Easter, or just because). Not only do I save items for my kids, but everyone on my shopping list. This has been a life saver for saving money, and for taking some of the pressure off of last minute shopping. It’s also been super helpful when I’ve needed a quick gift in a pinch for whatever event, as there is usually something on hand.
Not only do I buy gifts early, but also decorations. Having just decorated the house, I have a pretty good idea of what items need to be replaced or added for the next year. Then I simply pick them up on clearance and store them away for the next year. This not only helps save money by paying less, but also by making informed purchases based on what I know I need.
There are always clearance sales – even during the busiest shopping time of the year! Don’t shy away from clearance deals thinking they aren’t up to snuff! Many items on clearance are overstock and attempt to make room for what stores think will be the big sellers this holiday season.
This goes for food too! When preparing your holiday feast, be sure to checkout clearance food items. While food is often marked down due to expiration dates, it can also be marked down as a result of ordering too much or even a change in packaging!
My favourite way to shop clearance food is through the Flash Food app! Learn all about how this innovative app is keeping food out of the landfills here.
Christmas time is huge for businesses. It’s typically the highest grossing quarter in their fiscal year and they know this is because people are shopping. Businesses also know that they have competition and as such, will offer many great sales (Black Friday anyone?) and add many bonus point opportunities with their loyalty programs.
If you’re not a big couponer, you’d be surprised at how many things you can get coupons for! It’s not just cleaning supplies and food anymore! Watch for special packaging on various products where you may find coupons for movie theater tickets, clothes and even toys!
Are you new to couponing or want to beef up your skills? Check out this ultimate guide to couponing in Canada!
Use Your Rewards
Anytime a company asks me to sign up for their loyalty program, I happily oblige. These programs are designed to reward shoppers for spending their money at a particular store. The idea is to get people coming back and spending more money, by rewarding them for their loyalty at each visit. With so many stores offering loyalty programs, it can be a little overwhelming (want to save room in your wallet, download the UGO app to store your loyalty cards digitally), but totally worth it.
When it comes time to buy gifts or stock up on holiday food, check your reward balances. You might just find enough points to cover some, if not all, of the cost!
Just the same, don’t forget to collect reward points on your purchases to save more down the road!
I’m really not a fan of shopping in stores. I don’t like how busy they are, wandering around looking for things and having to track down sales associates to help. As such, online shopping is an absolute blessing for me. Especially during the busy Christmas season when stores are absolutely nuts. No driving in circles around a parking lot or standing in line for 45 minutes to pay, instead, I can stay cozy in my PJs and pick up all my gifts right online.
Not only is shopping online more convenient, but it offers the potential for great savings too!
Save Money Shopping Online with Cash Back Apps
The first way to save money shopping online is using cashback sites like Ebates and Swagbucks. These two sites are unbelievably easy to use and when you use their shop feature, you earn cash back for each purchase! Wondering how cash back works? Well, these companies get paid an affiliate fee for having someone shop through their link. So, the entice people to use their links by giving the consumer a portion of the affiliate fee. It comes at no cost to you and is completely legit!
Be on the lookout for double or triple cashback as the holidays near. These companies want you using their affiliate links this season and will try and convince you to use their programs by offering bigger rewards.
Here’s how to get cashback for shopping through Swagbucks:
Save Money Shopping Online with Coupon Codes
When most people think of coupons, they think pieces of paper that you hand to a cashier. But coupons aren’t limited to brick and mortar stores, you can use them online too! Each and every single time I shop online, not only do I check Ebates and Swagbucks for their cashback offers, but I also check RetailMeNot and the Honey Chrome extension for coupon codes to reduce my total.
RetailMeNot and Honey both offer great coupon deals, but don’t forget about companies themselves. They want people to shop with them and one of the best ways to do that is by sending ads into consumers’ inboxes. How do they get their consumers’ email addresses? With discounts and promo codes! If you’re going to shop a particular store, check out what they offer you for subscribing to their mailing list. Quite often it will be well worth the hassle of a few extra emails!
Earn Money for Your Receipts
Marketing agencies want to know your shopping habits, trends and where you spend your money. So much so, that they are willing to pay you for simply sharing your receipts. No word of a lie! After you shop, upload your receipts into Receipt Hog, Coinout (Canadian registration currently on hiatus) and Swagbucks Answer. These three apps will pay you for your receipts – no matter what you’ve bought! While it is literally pennies for each receipt, it’s a quick and easy way to make a bit of money that can be used towards Christmas gifts!
While the generic receipt apps pay a few cents for your receipt information, Caddle and Checkout 51 are apps that will pay a bit more for your receipts. However, these two apps require users to upload receipts that act as proof of purchase. Each Thursday, Caddle and Checkout 51 refresh their offers, listing specific items for users to purchase. After purchasing the items, users upload the receipt proving the purchase (sometimes scanning a barcode is necessary) and then the listed reward amount is added to their account. Payment can be requested once account balances reach $20.
Check out how to use Checkout 51 here:
Pay with Gift Cards
Using discounted gift cards to pay for just about everything is my newest favourite saving hack.
The idea is just as it sounds, you buy gift cards at a discount and then use them to pay for whatever product/service, giving you instant savings!
But where do you find discount gift cards in Canada?
There are a few options:
This is my least favourite way to go about getting discount gift cards and frankly one that I don’t use often. Simply because it’s not overly trustworthy. Yes, most people are good and honest, but there are always some out there willing to take advantage of a situation. Nevertheless, it is an option and one worth discussing.
A quick search of gift cards will bring up gift cards people are selling. There are many reasons why people are trying to unload gift cards, some may have received them as a gift and won’t use them, some may have received them as payment or a prize and would prefer cash, and some may simply need money now more than a gift card. Whatever the reason, these sources can be a great place to find discount gift cards. However, due diligence is extremely important to ensure that there is in fact a balance on the gift card. Buyer beware, that more nefarious people may keep the gift card information and then use it after you’ve paid for the card! While it’s unlikely, it is a very real risk.
Canadian Discount Gift Card Sites
This is one of my favourite ways of getting discounted gift cards! Sites like Ebates, Swagbucks and CardSwap all have options to buy gift cards and then get a percentage of the price added to users’ account balances. Depending on the site, the discount value is rewarded in the form of money or points to be redeemed for more gift cards!
Store Gift Card Promotions
As the holidays draw near, watch for gift card promotions in store. Not only is using gift cards a great saving hack, but gift cards are also a very popular present. As such, many stores will lure people in with discounts on gift cards or by rewarding large purchases with gift cards! This is a great way to save more if you’re already planning to shop these events. Just be sure to pay attention to whether it is a gift card or a promo card. A gift card is a gift card and will not expire or have any conditions attached to them. A promo card, however, does not have to abide to the laws around gift cards and can in fact expire or have certain conditions attached (i.e. spend a certain amount, or valid on certain products, etc.).
Cash Back Credit Card
If you have a cash back credit card, you can get instant gift card savings when you shop at various stores! I have the Scotiabank Infinite Momentum Visa, which gives me 4% cash back every time I shop at grocery stores. This has been an absolute game changer for me!
Now, whenever I plan to shop at a non-grocery store, I take a quick trip into the nearest grocery store and buy a gift card for the non-grocery store. From restaurants, to clothes, to travel, if I can’t get more than 4% cash back by buying a gift card from Ebates, Swagbucks or CardSwap, I buy the gift card at my local grocery store. This has saved me hundreds of dollars and I kick myself for having had the card as long as I have and not connecting the dots.
Connect Your Card for Automatic Savings
The Ampli app is a great tool for adding extra savings to your shopping without any extra work! It’s so easy and it actually automates your savings. All you have to do is connect your preferred payment card to the app and when you shop at one of Ampli’s partners, you get cash back and/or contest entries! There is nothing for you to do after the initial set-up and once your account reaches $15, simply request an Interact E-transfer which will be paid out within 3 business days! Learn more about Ampli here!
If you’ve got some time, or if your savings is worth more than your time, then DIYing Christmas is a great way to save! From decorations to gifts, get your craft on and make a really special Christmas. You certainly don’t need a Cricut to come up with gorgeous designs – simply head over to Pinterest and check out all their great home made Christmas ideas!
While you’re over there, be sure to subscribe to MoneySavvyMe’s Pinterest account for lots of great tips and tricks for saving and earning more money!
Make Extra Money
One of the best ways to make Christmas more affordable is to simply make more money. Of course, this is easier said then done! However, when there is a will, there is a way!
Here are a few ways to earn extra money for Christmas
Sell Your Stuff
If you have young children (like me) and your house is overflowing with stuff (like mine) than selling some of those things is a great way to pocket a bit more Christmas money AND make room for all the new stuff that they’ll undoubtedly accumulate. When kids understand that their stuff is leaving to make room for all the great new stuff they’re going to get, they will likely become happy participants in the money making decluttering event! Then simply take some pictures and post them on Kijiji/Facebook and make some more money and space!
Get a Part Time Job
An oldie but a goodie. If you’ve got some time to spare and want to fill your wallet up, then a part time job could be the solution! Many retail locations are desperate for people to staff the busy holiday season and will happily take on fast learners and hard workers!
Get Your Hustle On
If you need a bit more flexibility than a part time job can offer, consider a side hustle. Babysitting a few nights or cleaning a couple of houses or walking a few dogs can be fun and flexible ways to earn a bit of cash. If you don’t mind heights or the cold, hanging Christmas lights and shoveling snow are great side hustles that often pay well. Put some feelers out in your network to see what kind of help people are looking for and offer your services.
Answer Surveys/Complete Tasks
Get Paid To sites are my main go to year round for extra money. If you follow my monthly Extra Cash Reports, you will be able to see what sites I’m being paid out by each and every single month. I try to complete a survey or offer a day on any given platform, just to add some money into each account. Some sites payout in Paypal or cheques and others you can accumulate points for gift cards (and many offer both)! Just be sure to pay attention to the survey length and reward to ensure that it’s actually worth your time.
Using all or any combination of these money saving tips and tricks will help make Christmas more affordable this year and for those to come!