My 4 Favorite Holiday Saving Hacks

Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away and the rest of the holidays follow in quick succession. I love the holidays, spending time with loved ones and celebrating.

There is, of course, one downside to the holidays and that is the cost. Between travel, food, and gifts the expenses can add up super fast. These are some ways I save during the holiday season. Here are my top 4-holiday saving hacks:

1. I Gift Things I Make From Items I Have on Hand or Can Get Very Cheap.

It is always the thought that counts and if you take some time to think about the gift you are giving you can definitely come up with an inexpensive but meaningful gift. Whether it is a framed photograph, some personalize coasters, a bag you whipped up, or a knitted scarf, all of these things mean more than just another gift card.

Here are a few quick and frugal gift ideas, complete with cost estimates, time estimates, and instructions.

2. Gift Experiences Along with Your Time

I use Groupon for this typically, but I also like the idea of giving a single movie gift certificate and make a plan to see a movie together. Some other ideas would be to invite them over for a home-cooked meal after the holidays; everyone loves a home cooked meal that they didn’t have to cook. A park pass, buy a park pass to explore together one day, passes can cost as little as $5. Pack some water bottles and some snacks and it makes for a great gift.

Keep on enjoying life, save some money too.

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3. Buy Off Brand Items for Cooking

Nine times out of ten, I cannot taste the difference between the brand name and the off brand, but when you are buying in bulk for holiday cooking there can be a huge difference in the cost. Save by going off brand. Also, take the time to check the mail for any coupons for the items you plan to buy.

I’m by no means a coupon maven, but I at least check the circulars I get in the mail to see if I can save a couple of bucks on items I plan to buy anyway. It is a super quick and easy way to save without going crazy.

4. Don’t Get Distracted by Sales

You know how I said to buy off brand to save money? I know that I usually buy off brand, but every once in a while the name brand will go on sale, and I will buy it. This is a holiday saving hack, but I only if it is cheaper, so you have to check. It is way too easy to see a sale sign and just assumes it will save you money.

Take two seconds to pull out your phone, open the calculator app and make sure. Check the actual price but also the volume of the item. Are they both 16oz containers or is one 12oz? How much do you need? Is it cheaper by volume?

Don’t just see the sale sign and buy, sometimes the sale sign or markdown sign is a difference of $0.01. Yes, I’ve seen this, so be smart and check to make sure it really is a good deal.

Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top

Don’t let the cost of the holidays impede on enjoying the time spent with friends and family. With these four ways to save you can make the best of both worlds. Focus on the thought behind your gifts rather than the price tag or just gift your time. When it comes to all the holiday meals, don’t be afraid to buy off brand products and pull out your calculator to actually check for price savings.

What are some of your favorite holiday saving hacks?

Life tools & resources I recommend

The Skimm (for staying informed) I've been a loyal Skimmer for over three years. The Skimm is a news source that shows up in your email first thing in the morning M-F. It gives you a 5-minute rundown of what's happening in the world and links to legitimate news sources if you want to learn more about a topic. I start every day with my coffee and The Skimm. I <3 it so much.

Winc (for Wine Delivery) I like ordering a box of different wines to try from Winc every few months. The bottles average $13 a piece and delivery is free when you get at least 4 bottles (more wine please). If you want to check out Winc, you can get a free bottle of wine using my link. I'm very pro free wine.

Checkout 51 (to save on groceries) To save money on groceries, download the Checkout51 app and sign up for free. Each week on Thursday, "new deals" come out. Go through and star the items that are on your grocery shopping list. Do your shopping and at the end use your phone to snap a picture of receipt through the app and hit submit. Once you earn $20 in rewards you can cash out and Checkout51 will send you a check.


Liz is a blogger helping people with personal finance and working for themselves. She shares her own journey to debt freedom and helps graduates dealing with above average student loan debt on her site, Less Debt More Wine. She currently resides in NC after calling Massachusetts home for nearly a decade.