Are you feeling a little stressed with the holiday season coming up and wondering how you will afford a nice Christmas without running up credit cards? Would you like to have some extra cash to take that nice getaway with your family? To help you have more money this holiday season, I'm providing some easy money saving tips below that I've tried and tested to help me free up $1,819/month in my own budget just in time for the holidays!
- (Consult an accountant before trying this) Increase your tax exemptions so they withhold little to no taxes. I used this one before where I would go tax exempt for a month or two so I wouldn't lose half of my holiday bonus because of taxes. Most of us, if we pay taxes throughout the year, pay what we need to pay by September. Why not take more money home today rather than using it to pay off your credit card bill from Christmas where you got charged a few months worth of interest? As I said above though, since everyone's situation is different, consult your accountant.
- Do our 5% Challenge. Look at your expenses and see if you can find ways to cut at least 5% from each area. For example, last month, I called up a competing internet company where I was able to save about $20/month and get faster internet speed. If you spend $5000 each month, this would mean you would strive to cut $250/month out of your budget. Wouldn't that be great?
- Temporarily stop retirement plan contributions. Don't pass up on some potentially wonderful memories with your family today for putting away only a few hundred dollars over the next month into a retirement plan that you may not even be alive to enjoy. It's even worse if the stock market tanks. I'm not saying you don't save for retirement, but there are some investments into those that you love most that you may be forgetting. If you tend to charge credit cards during the holidays, this could save your from having to pay higher interest rates than what you would earn in a retirement plan.
- Sell off your junk! Find a way to clean out that garage or storage shed while earning some extra cash by selling your junk. I'm sure your spouse will thank you and it will declutter your life. My wife and I made an extra $2000 one year just from cleaning out our house!
- Earn extra income. Now is usually a great time when stores need seasonal help, work some overtime by covering shifts, or by having a side business. If you only focus on decreasing your expenses, you've forgotten about the other half of the equation - increasing your income. Find ways where you can earn a little extra cash, whether it be temporary or permanent.
- Refinance or restructure loans. This is the main thing that allowed me to free up the majority of the $1,819/month and can be a lot of fun to do. With interest rates being low, you could end up refinancing some loans to get a better interest rate AND skip the next month's payment! If you already have great interest rates or need the cash, you can also call your loan company (i.e. mortgage company, auto lender, student loan lender, etc.) and ask to skip a month or two payments on your loans. They will often allow you to extend your loan terms which could give you extra cash for the holidays or pay off a credit card faster.
- Make minimum payments on loans this month. So often, I see people try to apply extra payments to all of their loans. First off, it's a slow and depressing way to pay off your debts. Second, you should only focus it on one loan at a time. Why not pay minimums temporarily to ensure you don't have to charge a credit card later? Spending just one or two months paying minimum payments will not destroy your ability to become financially free. Ironically, I watch more people become frustrated because they applied too much to their loans (especially the lower interest loans) and then have to charge up their high interest credit cards. As a result, they feel frustrated that their debt acts like a rubber band - always shrinking and expanding.
Try these out and leave a comment about how much you were able to free up this holiday season. Also, what other ways were you able to free up cash?
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