PANICKING about the fact that Christmas isn't far away and you have no money?
Here are 20 easy tips you can put into practice today to make sure you have enough money for a very Merry Christmas (and hopefully no debt afterwards).
1. Buy staples in bulk
Staple items aren't just basic food goods. They also include school and office supplies like paper and pencils. You save not only on costs but also transportation.
2. Shop around for insurance
Insurance is not an investment, but it does help to cushion the fall if something does go wrong. Just choose a plan that works best for your family.
3. Ask for a lower interest rate for your credit card
Contrary to popular belief, credit cards are actually run by real people, so you can attempt to negotiate your interest rates. If not, just cancel your account and transfer to another bank with a lower interest rate.
4. Stop buying coffee and make and take your own
Gloria Jeans may be a popular coffee joint, but I have breaking news for you: you can live without it. Buy coffee grounds and and take your coffee to work.
5. Buy energy-efficient appliances
Energy-efficient appliances may cost more than their non-efficient counterparts, but they save you more money in the long run.
6. Use the shower instead of the bathtub
We know you have these visions of sitting in the tub while sipping a glass of wine, just de-stressing the day away. But saving is your priority now, so maybe you can schedule your tub-sitting moments for once a month. Put a five-minute timer in the shower and wash, wash, wash.
7. Regularly schedule a power-off time
Remember how we all switch our lights and appliances off during Earth hour? A regular power-off time is like that, only it's once a week or twice a month. This will not only reduce our electricity bill but also force us to actually interact.
8. Visit the library instead of buying a new book
The local library is a wonderful resource for books, magazines, movies, games - loads of things. Check out what they have. Plus many libraries have free school holiday activities.
9. Bundle your plans together
Ring your phone provider and ask for a bundle deal - or if you have one already, check their websites regularly for new, more frugal plans.
10. Cut off your pay-TV subscription or reduce the plan
Repeat after me: there is more to life than Netflix. If you cannot completely cut off your subscription, consult with your service provider to see how you can reduce the cost.
11. Ditch your gym membership
If you're not using your gym membership, then there's no reason why you shouldn't give it up. But if you're using it, then try to reduce the membership costs by doing some of your workouts at home.
12. Ask your friends and relatives for the things they no longer use
Don't be ashamed to ask people you are comfortable with for the things they are no longer using. Chances are they would be happy to get rid of it anyway. If you're not at ease with asking, then offer to repay it using services (like babysitting or mowing their lawn) or trade it with your stuff that they like.
13. Organise a garage sale
Since you're sifting through your old stuff anyway, try to categorise your things into two types: the ones to be given away and the ones you can still earn good money from. Organise a garage sale with your neighbours or friends - it's a lot of fun!
14. Do not buy junk food
Junk food makes a serious dent in your grocery budget. You don't need it anyway. And junk food is awfully unhealthy and fattening.
14. Buy generic brands
Similarly, you also don't need to buy name brand all the time. For dry goods and basic house supplies, don't be afraid to occasionally try a generic brand. Most of them are made in the same factory from the same ingredients as the name brand kind.
15. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season
We encourage buying as much fruits and vegetables as possible (for every piece of junk food that you usually buy, replace it with a piece of fruit or veggie). But to save even more money, try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. They are not only usually cheaper but also tend to be fresher.
15. Stop buying trendy things or clothes that don't last
Stop collecting clothes. Just stop it. Instead, buy occasionally and only buy timeless pieces that you can wear for years and even pass on to someone else. Log out of your eBay account!
16. Recycle old school supplies
Speaking of school, there are times when the academic year ends and some of our supplies look barely used. Some notebooks have barely been opened and there's still one whole ream of paper left (remember, bulk buying works!). Take inventory of these and remove the items from your school shopping list.
17. Enjoy cheap or free family activities like riding bikes and going to the park
It's really nice to raise children with the mindset that having fun doesn't necessarily mean spending. Bond with them over free activities that also give them a reason to exercise.
18. Don't buy things you don't need on sales
Sales are very tempting; just the sign "SALE" makes us think we're saving money on something. Well, it's partly true, but when we're buying something we don't even need, we didn't save any money at all.
19. Automate bill payments to avoid late fees
Late fees are the worst! You know you need to pay the bills but something came up, so you forgot about it. When you finally get around to doing it, your bills already have additional overdraft fees. To avoid this, set up your online banking account and get it to automatically transfer money from your account to pay the bills. Goodbye, late fees.
20. Evaluate your medicine cabinet before buying an over-the-counter drug
I can't count how many times I've bought an OTC drug that we already have in the medicine cabinet all along. This is why you should always know what you have to avoid buying duplicates. Also, take note of their expiration dates - get rid of those that are already expired.