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December can be an expensive, expensive month.  There's just so much going on, it's not even just about the extra expense of gifts.  Here are some ways you can save this month:


1. Plan and eat simple meals.  Christmas dinner can be complicated, but for the rest of the month, plan for simple meals.  They're cheaper of course, but you're also pressed for time in December.  There's more parties and events and things to decorate and gifts to wrap.  If you add complicated meals on top of that, something's gotta give, and it's going to end in you ordering takeout for the 5th time this week.  Simplify.

2. Skip sending cards.  I don't even know what stamps cost right now, but it's outrageous.  Plus the cost of photos and the actual cards - just skip it!  Sending cards are always about the sender anyway, not the recipient, so no one will miss one less card in their mailbox.  Save the money, and the stress.

3. Take your own photos.  The charges for sitting with Santa!  What!  It's crazy and then they up-sell you their packages of photos with wallet sizes for grandma.  Stop it.  Find a pine tree, put the kids in Santa hats, take a picture with your iPhone, and put it on Instagram.  Christmas photos done, for zero dollars.

4. Buy less gifts.  It's really the best way to save.  Be ruthless when trimming that gift giving list - not everyone needs a present.  And try buying one gift for a couple or family, like a coffeemaker or a year long zoo membership.  You may spend more on it, but it'll still end up costing less than 2 or more separate gifts.

5. Skip the 'filler gifts.'  Filler gifts are the little add-ons we do that no one actually cares about and end up being trash anyway in a few days.  Like the McDonald's happy meal toys of Christmas.  Get one nice gift and let it stand on it's own - don't add trinkets.

6. Limit travel plans.  Travel, especially at this time of year, is expensive.  Even just driving to tons of events can add up.  Limit your plans that take you away from your house.  Suggest people travel to you instead!  If you have family all over, consider switching off years so you aren't always the one flying to them.

7. Decline one invitation.  So many are going to come your way this month, from work parties to cookie exchanges to cocktail parties with friends.  Turning down even just one is money back in your pocket.

8. Don't buy specialty outfits you won't wear again.  You already have something in your wardrobe sufficient for church, a work party, Christmas dinner, and that ugly sweater party.  Don't buy a new outfit for every occasion, especially when you'll likely wear it just the one time.

9. Install light timers.  Lights don't need to be on during the daylight hours.  Or at 3 a.m. for that matter.  Install timers so they only run for a short time each day, even if you forget to turn them off.  Your electric bill thanks you.

10. Rent space in your home.  If you do travel for the holidays, rent out space in your own home for people coming to your city on AirBnB or something similar.  You may be able to offset your own holiday travel spending with this additional income.

11. Decorate with nature.  The fun thing is that it's free and it's sustainable.  Just get pinecones and pieces of pine trees for your tables and mantles, you don't need to pay for the fake versions.  You can also decorate with cheap food, like oranges with cloves or popcorn and cranberry strings, which can then be left out for animals to eat.  Beautiful, inexpensive, and waste free.

12. Don't decorate every room.  If you don't already have the decor, don't go buy it.  Not every room needs to scream Christmas.  Just concentrate your favorite pieces in your main rooms, and enjoy it.

How do you save in December?