1. Get creative

Can’t afford to buy gifts? Tap into your creative side; think about what your loved ones might like and make your own holiday gifts. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart, either. It’s more about the gesture than making some kind of perfectly crafted artisanal present.

Here are just a few ideas.

  • Framed pictures: Look through your digital photos of family and friends. Scope out affordable picture frames at thrift stores or dollar stores. Once you know what size frames you have, get the highest-resolution copies of your chosen photos and have them printed to size at CVS, Walgreens or Walmart. Each print usually costs less than $1.
  • Family cookbook: Ask relatives to share their recipes. Maybe grandma has a box of handwritten ones you can convert. Create an accessible digital version online or assemble your own hard copy. Free and low-cost templates and software are available if you want to do it yourself. With a little effort on your part, this could be a treasured gift for generations to come.

Knitted and crocheted goods are truly one-of-a-kind gifts, too, and baked goods are always welcome. Yum.

2. Cut your monthly bills

If you need to free up some extra room in your budget, a good place to start is to cut back on your monthly bills — like, for instance, your current car insurance.

In most places, it’s straight up illegal not to have it, so you’ve probably accepted that you’re going to pay through the nose for it. But you don’t have to.

A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826/year.

All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. And it’s totally free.

3. Save a little each week

Start now and set aside a little bit of money every week.

Whatever you can afford. Everyone’s situation is a little different. But if you commit right now to saving a certain amount of money each week, you can scrape together a nice little fund to buy holiday gifts, especially if you take our next tip to heart…

4. Think outside the big-box store

An increasing number of gift shoppers are staying out of the big-box stores and turning to online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay and the Amazon Marketplace. This holiday season, consumers are expected to purchase heavily from these websites, according to various forecasts and surveys.

It’s not just because of COVID-19, either. Online-savvy shoppers can find some pretty sweet deals this way.

You can find handmade or vintage items on Etsy. You can find unique or obscure items on eBay. You can find just about anything on Amazon’s Marketplace. And if something goes wrong with the transaction, each of these marketplaces has ways to protect you.

It’s also worth seeing what you can find locally. Keep tabs on Facebook Marketplace and Offerup to see if your neighbors are selling anything for a good deal. Sometimes you can find almost-new items available for a lot less!

To sum up: Even if the Grinch has stolen your bank balance this year, you can still celebrate with style and show your loved ones you care.

All it takes is some willpower, some forethought and a dash of holiday magic.

And maybe a little eggnog.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

About the Author

The Penny Hoarder

The Penny Hoarder

Guest Writer

Founded in 2010, The Penny Hoarder is one of the nation’s largest personal finance websites. Its purpose is to help people take control of their personal finances and make smart money decisions by sharing actionable articles and resources on how to earn, save and manage money.

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