5 Ways to Save Money this Holiday Season

Today I have an awesome guest post from a fellow member of Carolina Blogging.  He has graciously agreed to write a guest post for me. And I hope that this is the first in a long line of guest posts.

save money over the holidays

The holidays are the biggest spending season for Americans. In 2013, holiday sales generated over three trillion dollars, which account for almost 20% of total retail sales during the year. This year the National Retail Federation is expecting Americans to spend more than $600 billion dollars just on Christmas alone. Many families find themselves in debt by the time January rolls around, but you don’t have to be one of them. There are a few simple tricks you can use to save money and bring some holiday joy to your bank account.


Close to 99 million people will be traveling at least 50 miles or more to spend time with their friends and family during the holidays (from December 23 to January 4th alone). For many people, travel can be one of the biggest expenses during the holidays.

If you’ll be driving to visit your family and friends during the holidays, spend time mapping out your route. Look at the roads you’ll be taking and find the cheapest gas prices. Use websites like Gasbuddy.com (or their app) to compare gas rates on your trip. Typically by finding a gas station a little farther away from major highways can save you ten cents a gallon on gas prices.

If you’re flying during the holidays, plane tickets can break your budget. To save money on those tickets, book your flight at least five weeks before your trip. Planning ahead can save you a significant amount on your trip. Plan your flights before “peak” traveling days if you have the flexibility of schedule. Flying before December 23rd or after January 4th can save you hundreds of dollars on travel during the holidays.


Unless you’re staying with your family, you’ll need a place to stay while you travel. If you’re looking for a cheap hotel room during the holidays try finding one near an airport or a business park. Typically these hotels are at least 3 stars and will be offering rooms at lower rates because the holidays are their down season.

If you don’t want to stay in a hotel, you can use services like Airbnb.com or VRBO.com to find spare bedrooms or unused condos to rent out during your trip. Going with one of these rooms instead of a hotel room could save you as much as $50 a night.


A budget will be one of your most useful tools for saving money during the holidays. Spend time before the holidays arrive to plan out your spending and create a budget. Make sure every dollar you are going to spend is planned for. Creating a budget will allow you to see where you are overspending and where you can save a few extra dollars. Many people are surprised to see how much they are spending in certain categories like eating out or entertainment.

Before you go into the holidays, it’s a good time to review some of your “fixed expenses” to look for any savings you can find. Life insurance and cable television are just a couple of the areas that many people are surprised to see that they are paying more than they should. Take some time before the holidays to get a few quotes from companies to see if you have some hidden savings in your budget.


One of the biggest parts of the holidays are the family meals. It’s a time for everyone to get together and enjoy a meal under the same roof. Most families will be going to several family meals during the holidays, which can cost you hundreds of dollars for food. To save money, try and purchase all the non-perishable foods while they are on sale before the holidays. Look for coupons that you can add to the sales and stock on when you have them. You can also buy perishable foods ahead of time and put them in the freezer until you need them.

As you can imagine, the price of turkey rises considerably from November to January. If you’ll be hosting the dinner and you’re looking to save money on the main dish, consider cooking something other than a turkey. If you aren’t determined to buy a turkey, cooking a non-seasonal meat can save you’re a couple dollar per a pound.  Look for a delicious duck, lamb, or rib roast.


Gifts are another large portion of holiday spending. The average American will spend over $750 on Christmas gifts alone this year. One of the best ways to save on gifts is to suggest doing a gift exchange instead of buying a gift for everyone. There are several fun ideas for gift exchanges that you and your family and friends can do to save money: handmade gift exchange or regift exchange are two of the most popular ideas.

Another great way to save money on gifts this year is by planning ahead and doing your shopping on Black Friday. Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to buy all your Christmas gifts at half price or less. While you are shopping, look for cheap gifts that you could give to any of your friends and stock up on them. If you’re going to be buying jewelry for a loved one, wait until Cyber Monday when the best jewelry deals arrive.

Paul Moyer bio pic

Paul Moyer is a proud husband and father of three young children.  Paul blogs regularly at SavingFreak.com about personal finance and how to save money.

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