The holidays are upon us. It’s the time of year where people tend to spend a significant amount of money on both travel and gifts. I propose something different. I propose you give yourself a money detox and find ways to save money. You can think of it like a fancy spa treatment for your hard-earned cash.
I’m not saying to cancel your plane ticket to go see Grandma. Or to bail on hitting the slopes over the holiday break. I’m saying you can give yourself the treat of getting your money together. Don’t let it all slip away at the end of the year. Below are 12 ways to treat yourself to a money detox.
1. Save more automatically
If you haven’t set up your savings to be automatic, you’re missing out of one of life’s greatest pleasures. I’m not kidding. I have money come out every month into a savings account for emergencies. When I check it every so often, I am so damn proud of myself for the number that’s always increasing. I have 3 months worth of expenses covered plus some because of automatic savings.
2. Make your savings grow by itself
On the note of savings, you need a high yield savings account. This simply means an account that collects a higher amount of interest that your traditional savings at a bank. I have mine with Synchrony. Ally is an equally decent option. You want your money to grow while it sits and having a high yield savings account is one way to do this.
3. Plan a no-spend weekend to save money
It’s time to plan out a weekend that won’t involve spending a ton of money. This doesn’t mean Netflix and chill (although that is a viable option). Instead, consider finding free and fun things to do over the weekend. Hike a new trail. Bake cookies. Visit a local museum. There are plenty of things to do that don’t involve spending a ton of money.
4. Cancel one subscription and stop that money leak
If you subscribed to any of those plans that send you a box of stuff every month- unsubscribe. If you have every streaming service imaginable, find one you can live without. Remove that small leak of money and keep it in your savings account instead. If you really decide you need the subscription you can always add it back. My guess is that you won’t even miss it.
5. Pull a copy of your credit report to check for fraud
In the spirit of the season, you should be extra vigilant and watch your credit cards for financial activity. Once a year, you should pull your official free credit report from annualcreditreport.com and review all your accounts. Keep an eye out for anything suspicious. By doing this, you avoid turning around to see that three credit cards were opened in your name. (Happened to my sister).
6. If you have debt, come up with an actual plan to pay it off
Have you sat down and planned out how you’re going to pay off your debt? Like exactly how much you need to pay every month for how long? If not. Now is the time. Looking at your debt over the holidays is hard. It might really put a damper on your plans to max out your credit cards for gifts. But that is exactly why you should do it. Get a plan in place and empower yourself financially.
7. Buy groceries using a meal plan to save money on eating out
Create a meal plan for one week. Do your grocery shopping and see if you can save money by cooking at home instead of going out. If it didn’t save you money it probably saved your waistline at least a little bit.
8. Increase your retirement contributions
Are you getting an end of year bonus? Did you get a raise this year? See if you can allocate some of those funds to go straight towards your future self. Yes, that retired slightly sweet, slightly sour you will be thankful. Better yet, see if you can open up a new retirement account and make contributions there too.
9. Track your spending with an app
We love Mint and Personal Capital for tracking our money. Both of these apps allow you to link all of your accounts in one place. It’s an easy way to track spending and see your bigger financial picture.
I am a huge fan of Mint because I can budget on there too. Personal Capital is a great way to look at your net worth. Check them both out and see which one makes the most sense for you.
10. Turn on notifications for your credit cards
You can set alerts on your credit cards to notify you for all kinds of things. My favorite is setting a spending limit, like $400. I get a text when I have exceeded the amount I want to spend on a card that month and I know to stop. You can also set alerts for purchases made without a card present. This is really important for cards that you don’t use anymore to watch for fraud.
11. Give experiences, not things
This holiday season try giving experiences instead of buying things. This could be tickets to a show or a night tour of the city. Whatever it is, I think spending quality time with friends and family beats a new sweater any day.
12. Create one new tradition that doesn’t cost money
How much money do your holiday traditions cost? Some of ours used to cost $500 or more. See if you can come up with one that doesn’t. We like game night and a white elephant gift exchange. There are tons of ways to still feel in the spirit without spending all your hard-earned money.
Now that you’ve done all that, you really can sit back and treat yourself…with some tea or coffee. Don’t get crazy. 😉 Tell me, how have you done a money detox before? What are some ways to save money this time of year?