Save $1,000 by the holidays

Yes, you can save that much in the next 2 months. Plus: Earn yet another $1,000.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 24, 2011 9:40AM

This post comes from Cameron Huddleston at partner site Kiplinger.


Kiplinger on MSN MoneyIt's not too early to get a head start on the holidays -- saving for the holidays, that is. By making moves now to cut costs or earn extra money, you can save up to $1,000 or more over the next two months to pay for holiday gifts with cash rather than credit.


I've skipped several of the usual savings recommendations (such as dining out less) and highlighted some cost-cutting moves you might not have considered. The actual savings and earnings in the examples below will vary (especially depending on which ones you can implement). But they do show it is possible to generate an extra $1,000 over two months. Post continues after video.

Be sure to share your money-saving tips in the reader comments below.


Ways to save

Adjust your tax withholding. The average tax refund this year was nearly $2,805. If you got a refund, stop paying Uncle Sam too much throughout the year and keep that money for yourself (or gifts for others). You simply need to change your tax withholding by filing a new W-4 with your employer's human resources department. To find out how many exemptions you should be claiming, try our easy-to-use tax withholding calculator. The changes will go into effect on your next paycheck.


Two months of savings: $467.50 (based on the average refund).


Ditch the premium cable TV package. When I canceled my expensive premium cable package and opted for the cheap, basic service, I started saving $80 a month -- more than $950 a year. See "Budget-friendly alternatives to cable TV" for sources of free or cheap programming and movies. (Note: I kept basic cable service to score a discount on my phone and Internet services.)


Two months of savings: $160.


Increase your auto insurance deductible. Increasing the deductibles on your comprehensive and collision coverage from $500 to $1,000, or even $2,500, can reduce your premiums by 12% to 18%. For example, boosting the deductibles from $500 to $1,000 would mean a savings of $648 per year, on average, for a family with two teenage drivers in northern California (which has a competitive auto insurance marketplace), according to the database at InsWeb, an insurance website.


Two months of savings: $108.


Increase your home insurance deductible. My insurer recently sent me a letter stating that I could shave $300 off my annual premium by boosting my deductible from $1,000 to $2,000. That equates to a savings of $25 a month.


Two months of savings: $50.


Eliminate bank fees. More and more banks are charging account holders a fee -- as much as $30 a month -- if they fail to meet deposit, balance or usage requirements. Some charge $1 to $2 to send monthly paper statements and up to $9 for interacting with a teller. To avoid bank fees, consider opening an account at USAA Federal Savings Bank, PerkStreet, EverBank, Ally Bank or Zion Bank.


Two months of savings: $60.


Drop the gym membership. Gym memberships cost an average of $30 to $70 a month, according to PriceGrabber, a price-comparison site. So if you're not locked into a long-term contract, consider dropping this expense and trying free exercise alternatives, such as running or walking outdoors, for a couple of months.


Two months of savings: $60 (for the $30 monthly fee).


Drop your land line. If you're paying $40 a month (AT&T's current rate for unlimited long-distance calling) for home phone service but rely mainly on your cellphone, eliminate this monthly expense.


Two months of savings: $80.


Buy regular, not premium, gas. This won't amount to big savings, but, hey, every little bit counts. A gallon of premium gasoline costs $3.85 on average (the week of Sept. 19), while a gallon of regular costs $3.60 on average. If you filled up a 16-gallon car twice a month with regular rather than premium, you'd save $8.


Two months of savings: $16 (for filling up twice a month).


Total savings: $1,001.50.


Ways to earn
Sell sterling silver for scrap. My husband recently took a few silver pieces that we never use to a local dealer and got $30 an ounce, netting us more than $1,000.
Earnings: $240 for an 8-ounce piece.

Sell unwanted gold jewelry. With the price of gold at about $1,700 an ounce, selling unwanted gold jewelry also is a quick way to generate some cash. For example, if you have a gold ring with a melt value (the actual value of the gold in the jewelry) of $200, expect to get paid about 70% of the melt value -- so $140. See "Smart ways to sell your gold" for tips on how to get a good deal.


Earnings: $140 for jewelry with a melt value of $200.


Sell unwanted gift cards. The average household has about $300 in unspent gift cards, according to Plastic Jungle, a website that lets you buy, sell, exchange or donate gift cards. With sites such as Plastic Jungle and Gift Card Granny, you can turn those cards into cash. You won't get the full value of your card (up to 92% at best).


Earnings: $276 (based on a 92% return on $300 worth of cards).


Get paid for your opinions. For a few hours of your time, you can get paid to participate in an in-person focus group, such as those run by Delve.


Earnings: up to $200 per focus group.


Sell your stuff online. Kiplinger senior editor Jeffrey Kosnett and his wife made $200 selling flatware they no longer used through the popular online auction site eBay. Kosnett's wife, Deborah, says the key to selling your wares on the Web is to research similar merchandise that has been sold recently through the site and price competitively.

Earnings: $200.


Total earnings: $1,056.


More on Kiplinger and MSN Money:


Oct 24, 2011 1:48PM
What happens when you have already done most of these tips/tricks...I don't belong to a gym, already switched my withholding, got rid of land line eons ago, never buy premium gas..........nothing helpful in this article...same with don't eat out as much or buy star bucks, pack your lunch....never spend $ on luxury coffee or goofy knickknacks, don't smoke or drink or any of those other money guzzling bad habits.  What about those of us who are already money conscious and want to save more??
Oct 24, 2011 2:28PM
Done it, done it, done it, done it, done it, done it and done them all.  I don't think they have a clue what's really going on out here! First you need to earn to save!
Nov 1, 2011 9:25AM
What if you barely earn enough to pay your bills and have NO credit card, No Gym, No TV subscription? Thanks for the assumption we are all earning six figure salaries. Many people don't.
Oct 24, 2011 2:34PM
The best money saving tip I ever got was to save your $5's. You'll be surprised at how fast they add up.
Oct 24, 2011 4:29PM

IMHO, a few of these suggestions are just crazy!  I would never have my deductibles more than I could afford and if I had $1,000 - $2,500 just sitting around for my deductibles, then I wouldn't really care about saving $1,000 just in time for the holidays!  Premium gas . . . really?  If your car is high compression then follow the manufacturer's recommendations, but then again if I could afford the insurance, and cost of ownership on a car with a high compression engine that requires high octane fuel, I doubt I would be worried about stashing $1,000 for the Holidays!

Oct 24, 2011 4:34PM
swell.  i already do most of this anyway - no cable, no land line, prefer the outdoors anyway over a stinky, stuffy gym don't even have a computer at home (my laptop dies in january & i found i don't really miss it).  any other ways of saving $?  i've always done most of my own cooking, etc.
Oct 24, 2011 9:43PM
The thing that whoever wrote the part about buying "regular" gas compared to "premium" is the dumbest thing anyone can do if their car requires the higher octane gas. Buying regular gas instead of premium on the cars that require it, are going to cost a lot of money in the long run with car repairs. Yea, it may save you that extra couple bucks every couple weeks, but it is going to save you hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in the long run. Dropping fast food is probably going to be the biggest save and it's not even in this list. Making a little money by picking up a new seasonal job for a couple hours a week isn't saving, but it helps with income. Also maybe donating blood or plasma if you're in decent health can bank you anywhere from 50-250/month... Maybe they should look into those things a little more...
Nov 1, 2011 10:19AM
Firstly, you should never use regular fuel if your car requires premium.  Secondly, if you can afford to own a car that requires premium, I doubt you're spending your weekends finding things to sell online to pay for the extra $.10/gallon.
Nov 1, 2011 9:53AM
Getting regular vs. premium gas is the stupidest thing someone could do. Cars that require premium, require it for a reason.
Nov 1, 2011 12:08PM
this is a stupid article. Most people have common sense to do these things. As far as upping your auto ded. What happens if you have an accident and have to fork over that large amount of money? You end up putting it on a high interest credit card. These rich news people should live on our salary and then they would come up with better ideas.
Nov 1, 2011 9:37AM
What if you already do most of that stuff?  I just work more hours.  I was expecting you to say eat less, drive less, stop buying crap you don't need, for God's sake stay out of convenience stores, bag lunches, sell junk you don't need on ebay or craig's list (which is full of people who want premium goods for free.)  
Nov 1, 2011 3:29AM

Well People -

This bozo hasn't the foggiest notion as to the REAL things of Life for cutting expenses as we did in the Depression, as he is pressed to file something - WHATEVER.

The code from there still applies TODAY - Unless you have cash money in hand or pocket to pay for it - It STAYS in the store; If you don't have immediate need or use in the next 24 hrs. - It STAYS in the store. If you can't afford it - Make do with/from what you have or do without -SIMPLE Huh~?~? Sheeple ~?~!

Plus this Kiplinger thing has been something half-baked of the wall stuff that has never had any true relation thing to the every-day facts of the every-day person - Seems like they live in some back room of a think tank to foster something to write about that seems logical  in THEIR humble opinion that turns out all disjointed and unrelated to/for anyone else that reads their stuff that are gullible enough to believe it.

Don't believe any of their stuff as have come along right well with what learned from practice of what am espousing/learned of in Depression- Retired nice pay, State tax exempt; medical benefits[ NOT medicare Part B - FEPR], don't owe a cent, own my stuff/vehicle, widowed, sleep when want to, late as want to, how want to; do what want to, how want to, when want to; don't have to answer to anybody to, for or about anything - Now why change that for anything else that these 'experts' trump up via their 'reports' or such~?~?~?

And you're right  'SomeOne' - All $5 go in the can for the Church or hard times -Nobody else gets those~!~!

Nov 1, 2011 6:00AM
Whats that stock up on can goods before the depression gets worse! Screw corporate Christmas, and screw these scrimp and save bullchit articles from corporate propaganda so-called news! Boycott Black Friday too!
Nov 6, 2011 8:47AM
There are a number of really good ways to save money that are just a matter of planning--for instance, I used a cookbook called, "Once A Month Cooking" that dropped my grocery bill in half.  I also learned to make cookie and candy bouquets for friend/family gifts, even a small gift that is creatively wrapped is quite special, for instance, a dollar store wristwatch can be folded into a cut down paper towel roll, and wrapped like a holiday drum--total cost $1.  My kids' favorite gift when they were about 8 yrs. old was a $5 sandwich grill and the ingredients to cook dinner for themselves.  They absolutely loved it, and it got more use than the expensive basketball court that we installed the same year.  It isn't about big stuff, it's about creative use of small stuff.
Nov 7, 2011 12:48AM
Premium cable...the gym...silver and gold...ha ha ha.  Thanks, Jeeves.
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