Save Your Christmas Fund with $500 in Fast Savings

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When my husband and I decided to accept last year’s holiday season layoff as an opportunity to start a home-based business, we had to get frugal, and I mean fast!

Cutting our household income in half knowing we were planning to cashflow the new business and not accumulate debt was a frightening reality and it required some very creative, fast money-grabbing techniques.

If you’re afraid your Christmas fund is too thin to make it through the holidays without pulling out the plutonium card, think again and try these tricks to see if you can improve your financial situation in a week.

Get every bill out. Every single one you have. (Oh, come on, you’ve got a pile of “filing to be filed” too. I know it). Call every vendor and ask for a better deal, everything down to the utility company. You’re bound to come up with something good, but here are highlights of where you’re virtually guaranteed to find some savings.

Credit cards. Call and demand a lower interest rate. This will usually work if you have a good payment history.

Your cable provider. Tell them you’re considering dropping service or switching to a competitor. Can you get a better deal? (Check out Bilshrink.com for pricing options). Often your cable or satellite provider will simply re-package your account into a promotional package for six months or a year (mark the expiration date on your calendar). My current cable package is $60 under the regular price because we “re-bundled” in the spring. No change in programming, just a promotional price, even though we’re existing customers and don’t technically “qualify” for this better deal.

Call your mobile phone provider and ask them to analyze your usage and select a cheaper plan. Most of the time your contract just requires you to keep service with them—not the same level of contract. I just slashed my business account (two line plus two data packages) from $246 a month to $160 a month by calling and asking for a better deal.

Plan your menus and grocery shopping in advance and shop only from the list. We have a large family and feed the family for $89 a week now, versus our earlier $150–$200 a week bills. We also throw out a whole lot less food!

Shop your insurance around. We found the dropping the gap insurance on our paid-off cars saved us a small fortune. We also got a better deal on homeowners and flood insurance by shopping around.

Coupon your online purchases for the holidays. The Web site www.retailmenot.com has a coupon code for virtually everything, and I don’t make an online purchase without checking. Alex’s Coupons http://www.alexscoupons.com/ is also a fantastic coupon resource.

Go home-made! Last year my kids and I made “candy cane” bath salts and “peppermint hot chocolate lip balm” for friends and family from recipes we found on the Web. It was fun family time together and a great home-made gift. Previous years we’ve done collections of home-made candies for our loved ones. This year we’ve got another fun plan in the works, but if I told you … well, you know.

If that wasn’t enough quick cash for you to bail out your holiday plans, put down that plastic until you try these quick money-makers.

Dump out your junk drawer and find your old mobile phones, game consoles, personal organizers and other electronics and try re-selling them at www.gazelle.com or find your broken, damaged or out-of-fashion jewelry and re-sell your gold. Gold is at an all-time high right now and many jewelers will appraise and buy it. You can re-sell children’s items at consignment stores. For years I’ve re-sold books Amazon.com (I’ve done this with great success, especially on college textbooks).

I’m confident that you can salvage a respectable holiday budget with these tips and perhaps learn some frugal lessons along the way.

Here’s to a happy, frugal, and debt-free holiday to you and yours.

By Jessica Ward for GreenSherpa

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