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It’s the time of year when dark days are brightened with sparkly lights, comfort food, and pep talks in Christmas cards.

The holiday season bubbles up memories of warmth, cheer, and occasionally fear. Surviving awkward moments with Uncle Eddie and his questionable dumping practices are one thing.

But, going into a financial spiral is easily avoided with a few cheerfully cheap ways to save during the holidays.

DIY 🎄 Cards

$22! For Christmas cards? Am I paying for gas too?

I balked at the price when I was searching for Christmas cards at Walmart. $22 for 40 Christmas cards that will last less than a month and I needed 50. The next tier was 60 and even more unappealing.

I had shopped around on Staples, Groupon, and Shutterfly before returning to Walmart.

Was $22 going to be a seasonal sacrifice for the annual holiday tradition? No. I’d rather check my dental fortitude with another helicopter ride.

Since buying a premade card was out of the question. I had to think outside the Christmas box.

Whenever I sidestep premade, I usually land in a pile of DIY.

This was no exception.

I used Adobe InDesign to make Christmas cards. I could have used Publisher or Word but the software isn’t important. What is important is making a document 4×6 being able to save it as a JPEG. I collected beauteous images from Unsplash using the search term Christmas flatlay. With the background image set, I added festive text about happiness and holidays, a few selfies, and I was done.  

For .09, I made 50 Christmas cards for $4.50. It was a fun, festive way to save!

Deals & Discounts

There is a gaggle of discounted gift card sites that can turn savings from blah to bling. I use CardCash, which usually has big store/brand names. Typically, the bigger store, the smaller the discount. However, when I buy brand names, the discount is more impressive. Anywhere from 1-5% is typical.

I get a twisted pleasure when I stack savings, so I start at Rakuten (a cashback site) and go to the store site from there. I pay with the discounted gift card and whatever’s left goes on the credit card.

In the end, I can save about 10% or more when I stack offers. Some may claim this effort isn’t worth the savings. I disagree.

If someone was handed a $10 bill, would they take it?

Probably faster than I can type Grinch!

Stacking offers is the same thing, but I have to click a few more buttons. I like buttons! 😅

Card A Plenty

Throughout the year, I put everything on a credit card; from a $1 stamp to up to mile high plane tickets. It’s one way to make money on spending money. I pay my credit card in full every month because I don’t want interest to cut into my “ways to save during the holidays” scheme. It’s why credit card companies call me a deadbeat.  

Collecting and cashing in the rewards during the holidays is another way to combat the most expensive time of year.

I have a few credit cards that I use and with churning, I collect about $300 per year. Easy money that floats my Christmas slush fund.

Sales A Singing

Along with Santa, singing, and spiked beverages, the holiday season is the reason for sales.

Many brick-and-mortar and digital stores have sales of all flavors and hey advertise abundantly all over the interweb. But I call and ask about the specials at my favorite local businesses too.

Recently, I visited a local shop that had a 100% off sale. Three items at 20, 30, and 50% off. It was a fun way to support local and another cheerfully cheap way to save.

Bulk Buys

Until recently, I didn’t realize bread could be frozen.

I was reading Frogdancer’s post about how she used to freeze bulk discounted bread.

Every dollar was important.

When my aunt asked me if I’d like to pick up the unsold bread at a bakery in East Brighton every Tuesday night, I leapt at it. We kept going back to that bakery for the next 15 years. […] That shop saved my family thousands of dollars over the time we went there. 

Feeding my family this unwanted bread definitely tipped the balance of my finances towards the black. It was an absolute life-line that I’ll always be so grateful for.

With inspiration ringing between my ears, I searched and found a bakery outlet store in town. Bread is half price or cheaper. I found out, by accident, that on Wednesday’s they give extra discounts to veterans. So, I routinely make a trip once or twice a month and collect a bag full. Then bread and bagels get the freezer treatment.

It’s easier to shop from my freezer than the grocery store. Plus, buying bulk allows me to avoid holiday crowds. Though that can be a festive tradition too. 

Occasionally, I scoop up discounted bread at the store’s “too much” rack. Many times, it holds donuts and cakes, which are rare treats, not weekly eats.

Free Fun

During the 364 days that aren’t Christmas, I still prefer free fun over paid fun. Some ways I invite savings in for the holidays is by finding free holiday fun:

  • Going for a festive walk downtown and looking at decorated storefronts
  • Reading/watching Christmas books/movies from the library
  • Using scrap paper to cut out snowflakes
  • Making cookies for friends and coworkers
  • Going for a holiday light drive
  • Enjoying Christmas songs on YouTube
  • Garnishing the house with natural winter decorations like pine cones and evergreen branches
  • Cutting down a Christmas tree (in Montana they are free this year with a Forest Service permit!)
  • Crafting homemade hot cocoa
  • Volunteering
  • Building a snowman

With so many cheap ways to save, the holidays season will continue to build warm memories at an affordable price.

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