Some people put away a certain amount of money each month into “sinking accounts” for things like vacations and Christmas. If you’re doing this, I think that’s great! If you’re like me, though, you don’t have a lot of money (if any at all) left at the end of the month, so you might have the best of intentions, but when all is said and done, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Of course, waiting until December isn’t a great plan, either.
For the past two years, I have started saving money for Christmas in January and by October, I usually have a well funded Christmas account. I do this without taking any money from my monthly budget and I love it because as I find deals throughout the year, I can buy things and put them away without ruining my budget for the month. I am also usually able to finish the bulk of my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving (I hate dealing with all of the crowds to go Christmas shopping)
I know it’s too late for this year, but here are some things I do to save money all year long. Hopefully you’ll get some ideas for next year! None of these activities take very much time. If you have questions, please feel free to post a comment!
*ING Direct – I have an ING Direct account where I keep our Christmas fund. It’s an online account, which means I don’t have quick, easy access, so I am not tempted to just take money out. The interest rate tends to be higher than it is for savings accounts at a regular bank, and I also got $50 for opening the account 🙂
*Surveys – I know that there are a lot of survey companies out there, and some are more reputable than others. You won’t make a ton of money doing this, but it is quick and easy and brings in a little bit of extra money. These are the three that I like the most and have been with for several years now:
MySurvey.com – You earn points for completing surveys and testing various products. The points can be exchanged for prizes or cash. I usually let my points accumulate throughout the year and then cash out around this time of year. If you aren’t a member yet and are interested in joining, you can click on the link at the bottom of the page.
Epoll.com – These are quick, easy surveys that are usually about TV shows. You earn points for completing the surveys which can be exchanged for gift cards. I usually let my points accumulate all year and then I cash them out at this time of the year to use for Christmas shopping.
Pinecone Research – They pay a flat rate of $3 per survey (it used to be $5) or product test. They are my favorite survey company, but unfortunately you can only get “in” with them if you can find a live referral banner or periodically throughout the year when they have openings and people who are already members can refer you.
MyPoints.com – This is not a “survey” site, but I thought I’d include it in this section anyway. They send you a few e-mails a week with various offers. You earn five points just for clicking on the e-mails. If you take advantage of the offer, you can earn additional points. You can also shop through the links on their site and earn additional points. BzzAgent.com recently partnered with them and so you earn points on the MyPoints.com site for completing reports or surveys on BzzAgent. You also earn points for printing coupons from coupons.com! 🙂
*Associated Content – Associated Content pays for articles that are at least 400 words in length. Sometimes they issue calls for specific content that you can respond to and you can also submit articles on topics that are interesting to you. They typically pay more if you respond to a call for content. I typically receive $5-9 per article. They also pay you a monthly bonus based on page views. Payment is through Paypal and it is usually sent within a day or two of you being published. Click on the link on the sidebar if you are interested in joining.
*Garage sales/Ebay – Our neighborhood has a community garage sale about every six months (once in the spring and once in the fall). We take our profits from this and put half toward our Christmas fund and half toward our emergency fund. I also go through and sell things on Ebay throughout the year. In January and in June, we do a big clean out and list a bunch of things that we want to get rid of. It’s nice to get rid of junk that’s just been laying around our house and it’s even better when we get paid to do it!
*Rebates – In the past, I thought mail in rebates were mainly for big ticket items that you buy at electronics stores, but actually there are rebates for many household products, and if you have perfected CVSing, you get these items for free and then get a rebate on top of it. I have gotten more than $500 already in the past year just from doing rebates.