The Answer to Your '€˜I Don'€™t Have Money for the Holidays' Problem
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6. Tweak the thermostat.

Why waste money heating an empty house this fall, when you could apply that savings to your holiday budget? Before you leave for work, turn down (or off) the heat. According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by adjusting your in-home temperature by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day.

Prorated for the last few months of the year, that may not seem like much—but, hey, every dollar counts.

7. Trim your cell phone bill.

Pick up the phone and talk to your service provider about any savings they can dig up for you. Cheng recently did so with her cell phone company and scored $25 off her monthly bill. “It was really easy, and these are savings that are ongoing, so it can really add up,” she says.

“Be friendly, tell them how much you love the service and that you value being a loyal customer,” she adds. “When you’re friendly and positive, people respond well. I’ve never had anybody say no to me.”

Related: 60 Minutes to a Cheaper Phone Bill

8. Adjust your tax withholding.

If you got a large tax refund in April, that could mean you’re over-withholding throughout the year. Instead of lending your money to Uncle Sam again until next spring, Cheng recommends filing a new W-4 with your employer and pocketing the money yourself—starting with your next paycheck.

Just make sure any changes you make don’t result in under-withholding. If you’re unsure, consult a tax professional.

Related: You May Be Paying More in Taxes Than You Actually Owe

9. Cut your cable.

According to the Leichtman Research Group, the average cost of pay-TV service is $103. Yet you don’t have to pay for cable anymore to watch your favorite shows: Many networks share full episodes on their sites and apps for free (though you may have to wait a day after they air to view them online).

You might also consider subscribing to a streaming service, like Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus or Netflix, for $6 to $12 a month. (All three services offer free trials, too.) And Sling TV allows you to watch more than 20 channels, including AMC, the Disney Channel and ESPN, live or on demand for just $20 a month.

Related: 60 Minutes to a Cheaper TV Bill

10. Negotiate on car insurance.

Just like she did with her cell phone provider, Cheng hopped on the phone to save on car insurance. She found that because her daughter doesn’t drive much, had no accidents and got good grades, she could save $30 a month on her bill.

You can prove yourself a responsible driver worthy of a lower premium if you have a good record or even a high credit score.

11. Party at home.

Saving money for the holidays (or any big goal, for that matter) by eliminating your fun budget will lead to burn out—quick. So instead of going cold turkey, scale back gradually by looking for cheaper ways to things you enjoy.

“Maybe just pick one night [a week] to go out and then do something in on other nights,” Cheng suggests. That could mean inviting friends over for a potluck, game night, Netflix binge-fest or some other low-cost social activity.

12. Pack your lunch.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumers spent an average of about $3,008 on dining out in 2015—or about $250 each month. You don’t have to cut out this expense entirely; just cutting back on a couple meals a week could net big savings over the next three months.

“Depending on where you live, bringing your lunch to work an extra one or two days a week can save you $25 a week,” Cheng says. “Between now and December, that really adds up.” (Start this week, and you could have $200 saved by the beginning of December.)

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