If sneaky targeted Instagram ads, promo code email blasts, and an over abundance of gift guides haven’t worn you down yet, color us impressed. For everyone else, however, this time of year can be particularly brutal on our wallets—threatening to bring even the most frugal among us down to bank account zero.
After all, even if you showed some restraint on Black Friday, there are still holiday parties to shop for, gifts to stock up on, and trips home to book. Need we say more?
Before your eyes glaze over with cartoon-like flashing dollar signs, take a deep breath and r-e-l-a-x. Because we’re delivering the ultimate savings guide to rescue you from your seasonal money woes.
We combed through some of our greatest hits from this year and corralled the money savings tips that actually worked. Curious to try them for yourself? Check out the 20 cash-savvy pointers, ahead.
The best money saving tips we tried in 2018:
1. Separate your checking and savings accounts
If your accounts are tied together, there will always be a temptation to dip into your savings. Try moving your funds to another account or bank to lessen the temptation.
2. Break up with outdated subscriptions
Automated billing can be a blessing and a curse. If you find you’re not taking advantage of your subscription services or gym membership, cancel them. No shame in being honest!
3. Try a money detox
It might seem drastic, but this is an obvious and clear way to cut down on spending. A money detox doesn’t have to run for consecutive days, either. Take a look at your calendar and mark several days over the course of a week or month that you won’t spend any money. Once you’ve mastered that, you can bump up the time commitment and try longer periods of time.
4. Customize your own money-saving challenge
If a no-spend detox seems too intense, try a custom-savings challenge. The 52-week money challenge suggests putting aside $1 on week one of the challenge, and adding an addition $1 each week until you’ve gotten to $52 and have accrued $1,378 by the end of a year. It’s an extremely low-effort way to build your savings if you’re starting from scratch.
5. Download helpful money apps
Finance apps are a no-brainer—not only for tracking your outgoing expenses, but to also grow your savings. Stash, Money Brilliant, Acorns, and Betterment are all good starting points.
6. Don’t forget you can say ‘no’
“There are birthday dinners, standing brunch reservations, shopping trips, drink dates, and a hundred other money-sucking activities that are easy to become absorbed in.” Feel empowered to say ‘no’ and leave the pressure to spend behind.
7. Try not to shop for yourself
We know, we know. All of those awesome sales make it extremely difficult to resist treating yourself. But, self-gifting is a slippery slope—especially when you have 10+ family members to shop for this year. If you can, hold off until your budget is back in balance in 2019.
8. Eat and drink at home
Winter is the perfect time to explore big batch soup and chili recipes that can feed you for days. Fill up on cheap and easy meals at home to cut down on superfluous spending.
9. And meal prep for the week
Poor planning can contribute to a lot of unnecessary spending on your daily food needs. Setting aside 10 minutes to plan out your menu for the week can help you get ahead a lot of the last-minute food outings and deliveries.
10. Automate your bills
Late fees are the absolute worse way to spend your hard-earned dough, mainly because they’re a totally avoidable charge. Make sure your internet, phone, car insurance, and other monthly expenses are set up to be paid automatically. Some companies will even offer a savings deal when you set up automation.
11. Stop buying into trends
There’s no shame in wanting to freshen up your wardrobe every now and again. But may we direct you to consignment and vintage stores, or re-sell stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange, to avoid falling for costly trends that’ll be outdated before you know it.
12. Stop paying a premium for convenience
Look, we totally get that cooking for yourself everyday gets exhausting. It’s nice to have a night off from kitchen duty. However, turning to convenient food-delivery services like Postmates and Cavier is a costly alternative. Be mindful of add-on service fees and the extra tip required for delivery drivers. If you’re going to order, opt for pick-up versus delivery for an instant way to save.
13. Shop for plane tickets and hotel rooms on incognito mode
It’s been said that brands not only adjust prices based on your search history, but also based off of what type of computer you’re searching from (ew, creepy). Clear your cookies in between travel searches and browse from incognito mode on your web browser.
14. Bookmark any and all free events
Adding free, local events to your iCal is a great wait to keep extracurriculars soft on your wallet. The next time your friends hit you up to hang, recommend one of the freebies on your radar, like a free concert, outdoor bazaar, or rooftop movie.
15. Pool money for gifts
Budgeting for gifts isn’t the easiest, especially when you’re busy saving for your own financial goals. This is why pooling money with friends or family is a great idea so that you can offer an even more generous gift than you could afford on your own.
16. Let go of your things
Thanks to resale apps, it’s never been easier to clean out your wardrobe and apartment, and make money doing so. Download Letgo, OfferUp, or Poshmark and let the listing begin.
17. Find a credit card with rewards
Could you be earning cash back or travel points on your everyday expenses? The answer is yes, so be sure to do your research on credit card reward perks before swiping on another purchase.
18. Cozy up to apps that make you money
Remember the HQ trivia craze that happened earlier this year? Well, there are plenty more apps that promise to give you a little dough for your time. Browse this list for the under-the-radar apps that just might help you bring in a some fast cash.
19. Take a course on money
Have you checked out the bountiful free resources available online meant to help you save money? If you didn’t go to business or finance school, it’s not too late to enroll in a free money e-course.
20. Pick up a book
Endless money-saving tips can be at your disposal if you take a quick trip to the book store. Read up on any of these great finance books to discover even more great advice.