5 {Nearly Painless} Ways to Save $500 Over the Holidays

Ahhh…the holidays.

Argh…the holiday bills!

This is often the time of year that it becomes glaringly obvious that I didn’t save enough during the other 10 months!  What if there was an extra $500 in the bank account right now?

What if there was $2500?

5 Nearly Painless Ways to Save $500 featured on Kids Activities Blog

Family budgets are tight these days which is why I adore this series Creating Family Memories on a Budget inspired and sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers (ELP)  program which can help you find trustworthy and competent investment advisors, realtors, insurance agents or tax services in your hometown.  You can sit down and create a custom financial plan with someone you are comfortable with and that your neighbors would recommend making it easier for you to set aside money for what is important to your family.

5 Ways to Save $500

During this time of year, we often are intent on spending vs. saving.  Making intentional money decisions with our family’s future in mind will bring joy for holidays to come.

Old Policies Could Cost You

When it comes to insurance, most people like to set it and forget it. Four in 10 auto and homeowner's insurance customers have had policies with their current company for more than 10 years. In that amount of time,  your insurance needs can change.  But we keep those old policies, believing our loyalty is earning us a discount.

Phil H. found out that wasn't true when he finally took a good look at his home and auto insurance. He and his wife had used the same insurance company for more than 20 years, until he consulted an independent insurance agent for home comparison quotes.

Our agent helped us save  $600 per year  on our home and auto insurance, Phil told us. That savings will go to our debt snowball ”almost there!

Phil's agent was able to find him a better deal because independent agents aren't tied to one insurance company. They're able to shop and compare policies from several companies to find the right coverage at the best price.

Find out if an independent insurance agent can help save you money and give you peace of mind about your insurance coverage. Contact one of Dave's insurance Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) for trustworthy advice and excellent service.  Find your ELP today.

Drinking on the Go Has to Go

I do it myself all the time.  I drive thru my favorite coffee spot and spent $4 without even thinking about it.  If the kids are in the car, that bill is over $15.  $15 that has nothing to show for it except the empty calories that I now have to go work off and a caffeine fix that will last for 2 hours.

Recent news reports have estimated the average employed American spends nearly $15 per week on coffee.  I am not objecting to a good cup of coffee, but invest in it at home for a fraction of the price and save $10 per week {or more depending on your current habit}.

My kids have amassed pocketfuls of change for vending machines or ask to get a treat on the way home from school.  Indulging them in this way not only ruins their appetite for dinner, but is something that can add up fast.

Cutting a meager $10 a week from your “drinking out” can add up to more than $500 over a year, but if you are like me and could easily cut out more, just think of all the savings!

5 Ways to Save $500 this Holiday Season featured on Kids Activities Blog

Skip the Credit Card

During the holidays, I often reach for my credit card ignoring the fact that the bill WILL come.  It is so easy to put things on a card and be oblivious to the ramifications {and in some instances, the fight} that will ensue within 30 days.

If you spend $750 this season on a credit card which is less than the average American spends for holiday gifts, and then make a minimum payment of $20 per month, it will take you 6 years and over $500 in interest to pay off those purchases.  You will be paying for Christmas 2013 in Christmas 2019!

Figure out your holiday gift budget, take that cash out of the bank and pay with it (Pssst…Dave has a solution  for that).  I am always surprised at how my mindset changes when I pay with cash.  I become protective over that hard-earned money and make more informed purchases because I don’t want to see that cash depleted.

Chop the Christmas List

OK, I know that sounds a bit like Scrooge, but let’s get real about your Christmas list.  Are there people on it that have occupied the spot for years without any connection?  I know that there are people that are on mine out of some implied obligation.

Let me introduce the concept of the Christmas card!  There are people on your gift list that could easily and painlessly be moved to your Christmas card list.  They are acquaintances, co-workers and distant family members that would adore getting a card and getting you off the hook for a gift.

On the fence about someone’s transition to the card list?  Then maybe a plate of cookies is the solution.

Consciously cutting gifts off your list can translate to big savings.  In some cases, it isn’t just the gift price, but shipping costs and the hassle factor as well.  You may not get to a full $500 savings from this, but it will make you more aware that giving is a CHOICE.

Give the Gift of Time and Creativity

How many nearly-new gifts do you have in the closet?  I might admit to having a shelf or two full of them.  I suspect that those to whom I give have a similar situation.  Wouldn’t it be great to give a gift that wouldn’t sit on the shelf?

We often think of these things when kids are giving gifts to adults, or couples to each other, but extending a gift of time instead of something purchased can end up being a better fit.   Make up coupons for babysitting hours, organizing time, offer to list 5 items on an online auction site for them, a social media review for their small business, addressing their Christmas cards, a full day together, driving carpool for a week, volunteering at their charity of choice or their children’s school, or anything else that you can dream up.  If it is something that you sell or you barter, then it is of value to someone else!

The bonus is that not only will you save money this season, but you will spend time and energy on building a relationship with that person.

Investing Today instead of Tomorrow

One of the reasons why it is so important to look for ways to save $500 is what $500 can bring to your family in the form of security.  The first step is to get out of debt and have an emergency fund.  Once you have that covered, make a commit  to  invest at least $500 a month just for retirement  (that’s less than $20 a day).

If you are 35 years old and started this challenge today, you could end up with a $1.76 million retirement nest egg! And only $180,000 of that is from your pocket ”the rest is interest earned!  Finding an investment professional to help teach and guide you through the details of investing is important to making sound choices.  The ELP network can help find someone in your town who has the heart of a teacher.

Thanks so much to the  Endorsed Local Providers  for sponsoring Kids Activities Blog and inspiring this series on creating family memories on a budget.  

Where can YOU save money this season?


  1. To save money other than using coupons I just try to use as little as possible of everything. People use too much shampoo and other beauty items then they actually need to, so I use only a dime size and it lasts me so much longer!

  2. iv chopped my christmas card list by over half and use that money to get personalized photo gifts for the grandparents instead!

  3. The ‘drinks on the go’ and the ‘old policy’ parts really resonate with me. Since I started paying at Starbucks using their app, I’ve really realized how much I’ve been spending on coffee and I really need to call and have my insurance quoted out elsewhere.

  4. I have cut out sooo much, I am wondering if I can figure out how to put aside 500$ a month until we retire. Hmmm.. what can I get rid of to make that happen?

  5. I stopped doing the coffee on the go thing years ago and it REALLY made a difference while I still had a day job. I not only was getting coffee in the morning, but also going out for a sweet tea in the afternoon to take back to my desk. That added up to $6.00 a day and tons of calories that I didn’t need!

  6. Love these ideas! We talked about trimming our Christmas gift list this year… Another thing we’ve done is to send out our Christmas letter as an email, with tons of pictures, instead of mailing it (saving us $50-100 on stamps). I like it because I can send WAY more pictures than I can afford to print and it’s easier than folding, sealing and stamping envelopes.

  7. Thanks for the great tips! I shared with my Facebook fans!

  8. Ick, my nemesis are water bottles. I always have a water bottle in hand. I’m doing better, but need some improvement. Great tips!

  9. To save money I try to win gift cards/gift codes and try to find items with free shipping and the lowest price.

  10. great ideas. I created a budget years ago. I make sure to pay my tithes, and primary bills first before touching any money. I also enter a lot of sweepstakes and contests.

  11. I save money by paying bills online to save on stamps, I also use coupons all the time.

  12. Patti Purelli says:

    I like to save my change and cash it in once a year.

  13. These are all great ways to save money! Thank you so much for sharing these great tips.

  14. I like the Dave Ramsey plan saving all the money you can and paying off everything!

  15. Love the tips and the coffee hits home for me and my teens. I host a huge Christmas Open House each year and this year I decided to not create a new theme like I do every year. I’m going to REUSE Christmas decor and table decor from last year. Honestly who will remember? Some will but most are there for the food. So to save $ I’m going to reuse what I have from previous years and trust me it will easily save me $$$$$. Oh and second tips is I’m going to be good about buying as soon as Christmas is over so then I can have some new stuff next year but it will be discounted new stuff!

  16. You make excellent points! We save money throughout the year for Christmas gifts and when it is time to shop, we look for bargains and sales. We began avoiding all the hoopla of black Friday and stick to purchasing online, we save money and because we already have a set budget we don’t go overboard. Thanks for the helpful tips.

  17. super tips— I rarely buy a drink on the go any more…unless I have a gift card and a Q =)
    and the Christmas list–was hacked in half years ago =)

  18. These are GREAT points!

    We shop all year long so we aren’t pressed to pay top dollar for gifts at the last minute.

    We draw names to help us focus on one or two special gifts rather than purchasing a lot of mediocre gifts.

    We stop buying random “treats” when we are out and about and have our children add it to their Christmas wish list instead.

  19. I refuse to shop on credit for the holidays and the kids only get five gifts and three are from santa

  20. If we know we have a marathon shopping day, we will often pack a sandwich to eat in between stores or make sure to take our coupon books with us. We also always have our water bottles with us… its healthier & cheaper than purchasing a soda or coffee!

    For pricier gift items, read reviews. Make sure you are getting the best item for your money. Don’t buy blindly on big things (even kid toys). If a toy has been known to break easily, I’m going to find something my boys will be able to enjoy longer.

    Also, I price compare ALL stores online BEFORE we leave the house. Why run from store to store when Amazon is cheaper and it will ship to your door. Don’t do unnecessary running from store to store. This saves you hassle & gas. And make sure to have ALL store coupons with you (and make sure they are current).

    Great tips, Holly! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Oh man, drinks on the go is definitely a big thing for us. Since there are 5 of us, that’s like $10 at least in just a gas station stop. It’s insane.
    These are really great tips! Thank you!

  22. One of my favorite ways to save money and also share a little bit of me is to give handmade gifts or to buy throughout the year. Using the deal a day sits I’m able to find crafts that are easy for me to personalize. I can also find things that are “Amy Favorites” and stock up on them throughout the year.

    We also live by Mint and are making sure we are creating a strong savings for retirement separate from our retirement fund. This allows us to pay off higher interest loans as we can and then move that payment into savings. By doing this, we plan on having our 30 year loan (we have 26 years left) within less than 10 years – assuming no raises. 🙂

  23. Stop going through drive through places and getting drinks. If you save $10 a week it can add up to $500 savings a year.

  24. I have been skipping the coffee and iced sweet tea on the go to save money. We are also cutting our Christmas budget this year.

  25. I agree that drinking on the run is a waste of money. My drink of choice is a Coke…but it has to be from the fountain. To me it just tastes better. But some places charge $2 bucks which can add up.

  26. Chopping the Christmas list is hard but is liberating once you’ve done it.

  27. Stephanie L says:

    Another tip: Make your own snack packs. Buying individually packed snacks is tempting, but buying in bulk saves so much money… and barely takes any time to put in little tupperware or ziplock bags!

  28. These are all really great ideas! I’m constantly trying to get hubs to cut back on his drinks, and he’s done amazing. It’s now a treat to him.
    As for gifts, we’ve always been very frugal with who and how much we spend, and thankfully have been able to avoid credit cards except for emergency needs.

  29. You have some great tips!! Some may be hard at first but you will defiantly see a difference afterwards. Thanks!

  30. Price match.
    Also, I don’t spend unless I know I can pay for it. I use a credit card that earns me cash back bonus. Then I get a little cash to help pay the bills at the end of the month.

  31. We make gifts in our home! I spend a lot on gifts for my kids, but they make us stuff, make stuff for mimi’s and papaws, and I NEVER USE CREDIT CARDS! If I don’t have the money now, I wont have it later!

  32. One of the money saving tips I can give is when you grocery shop keep a running tally of how much everything cost in your cart you’ll be shocked at how much you start cutting out not only will this help your waistline because you won’t be by snack and drinks that are not good for you but I promise you can save 200 or more month

  33. These are awesome tips! Another thing I do is buy or acquire Holiday gifts and stash them away all year long!

  34. Loved these tips hon! I am definitely putting these tips to use for next year! (It’s too late for me this year – I’m a hopeless cause once again lmbo!)

  35. I chopped that Christmas list a few years ago. Now instead of gifts, we give baked good. Mainly cupcakes and cookies. It has made a tremendous difference in cost and stress.


  36. Meal plan. I have only recently started doing so but it is working incredibly well for me!

  37. When our business shut down AND we had some medical bills, we were over our heads in credit card debt. My husband called around all the credit card companies and also studied every offer that came in the mail. He was able to shift a lot of our balances to zero or very low APR programs, which let us put all our payments towards principal. We were able to pay the debt down a lot faster and today, except for our house payment, we are debt-free!

  38. Here’s another money saving tip. If you HAVE to eat out (fast food) check out the Value or Dollar menu – skip the COMBOS, and just order water instead – icy cold water actually tastes good sometimes and you can usually get a few entree items instead of just one!

  39. I like the idea of saving on gifts by getting creative and making things myself. It’s so much more personal when it comes from the heart anyway!

  40. I’m glad I already use the no to go drink rule. I don’t drink coffee thank goodness, but I do drink iced tea. If I go through McD’s 3 times a week (which I don’t) and get my unsweetened iced tea I’ve spent more than I could have on 250 tea bags!!!! I’m glad I don’t really have any credit cards either. Insurance will be up for double check in January. I think we do that about every 5 years, may need to start doing it even more.

  41. I love getting freebies and samples via mail… then using them to refill our bought items such as coffee, shampoo, etc. Every little bit adds up!

  42. Ashley Addison says:

    I love the last idea. I have been wanting to start saving for retirement, and I’m not even 35 yet, so maybe I can learn more about this and get started before I get to that point and really have a nice nest egg set up. Thanks so much for sharing this. Makes me want to get my butt into gear and get moving on our retirement savings.

  43. To save money, I try to use sites like eBates and Shop at Home to get cash back on my purchases. Last year, I made enough to pay off some of my credit card bills.

  44. It’s amazing how much those drinks on the go add up. Honestly, I tend to not think much of them because things are already tight and I consider them a small splurge. But, when you stack up the costs, it’s much more worth it to tote a drink with you when your out and about.

  45. We pack drinks and snacks for on the go, avoid purchasing items on the displays in the checkout lane, and use coupons on the things we use/need but skip the coupons for the things we wouldn’t otherwise purchase.

  46. Spending money needlessly while out shopping is a big things with overspending during the Holidays. Some families make full day of it and will resort to eating out or ordering in during their shopping days. Hopefully, someone will read this and make use of it. Good post!

  47. I agree 100% on ‘no eating|drinking’ in the car. It’s so easy to drop several dollars here and there by hitting the drive-through.

  48. I save by cooking at home more, and leaving dinners at restaurants for the weekend or special occasions.

  49. Wonderful tips; thanks for sharing! I’m also a big fan of the No drinks on the go!

  50. Put all your loose change in a jar each night. The coins will really add up fast. 🙂

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