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How to save $1,000 by Black Friday

There are plenty of ways to trim spending – or earn more – to finance your holiday shopping with cash rather than credit.

By MSN Money producer Oct 4, 2013 3:02PM

This post comes from Cameron Huddleston at partner site Kiplinger.


KiplingerConsumers may be feeling the pressure to start their holiday shopping early. But buying gifts now probably isn't such a good idea because many items will cost much less when they're marked down in November and December. Consider, instead, getting a head start on your holiday savings. That is, by setting aside money over the next two months, either by spending less or earning more, you can save up to $1,000 or more to finance your holiday gift giving with cash rather than credit.


Image: Gifts (© Image Source Black/Jupiterimages)To help you reach your holiday savings goal, we've come up with several cost-cutting moves -- as well as several ways you can pull in extra cash. The actual savings and earnings in the examples below will vary (especially depending on which ones you can implement). But they do demonstrate that it is possible to find an extra $1,000 in your budget over two months.


Ways to save 

Drop your land line. If you're paying $44 a month (AT&T's current rate for unlimited long-distance calling) for home phone service but rely mainly on your cell phone, eliminate this monthly expense. And to avoid having to pay more to get unlimited minutes for your cell phone, consider using a free Internet calling service to make calls from home.


  • Two months of savings: $88


Cut the cost of smartphone service. If you're no longer locked into your service provider's two-year contract (the standard contract typically required when you purchase a smartphone), consider switching to a prepaid wireless provider. For example, you can get unlimited talk, text and data for $45 a month from Straight Talk Wireless, a prepaid carrier owned by TracFone that uses America's largest networks. AT&T, on the other hand, charges $109.99 a month for an individual plan with unlimited talk, text and 300 MB of data. So you can save nearly $65 a month by switching.


  • Two months of savings: $130


Increase your home insurance deductible. You can cut the cost of your monthly premium by raising your deductible. I shaved $300 off my annual homeowners insurance premium by boosting my deductible from $1,000 to $2,000 a couple of years ago. That equates to a savings of $25 a month.


  • Two months of savings: $50


Brown bag it. That $5 deli sandwich you regularly buy for lunch might seem like a good deal. But if you do the math, you'll find that you're spending $25 a week (at least). You could buy a pound of deli meat for about $6 and a loaf of bread for about $2 or $3 and make sandwiches for a week for a little less than $10 -- saving you about $15 a week.


  • Two months of savings: $120


Drive less. If you have a bike, consider leaving your car in the garage for the next two months and cycling to work. Half of the working population in the U.S. commutes five miles or less to work. So if your round trip is 10 miles, you can save $4.55 a day by biking rather than driving, according to our How Much Can I Save Bicycling to Work? calculator. TWO MONTHS OF SAVINGS = $182


Quit your vices. Easier said than done, right? By why wait until the New Year to resolve to get healthier? If you quit smoking or drinking now, you could save a lot over the next two months. Considering that the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is about $6, you could save $54 by Black Friday if you have a pack-a-week habit and a whopping $378 if you have a pack-a-day habit. If you cut out your nightly glass of wine or bottle of beer, you could easily save $10 a week or more (depending on the quality of booze you buy). Over the nearly nine weeks until Black Friday, you would save at least $90.


  • Two months of savings: $306 (for a moderate smoker and drinker)


Cut the cable cord. If you're a TV junkie, this might be a tough money-saving move to make. But the savings can be significant. The average cable bill is $62 a month, according to the Federal Communications Commission. So consider cutting the cord and watching TV shows for free online or renting DVDs for $1 a night from Redbox kiosks. Or stop watching TV altogether and spend your free time looking for more ways to save money or trying the money-earning strategies listed below.


  • Two months of savings: $124


Total potential savings = $1,000


Ways to earn

Adjust your tax withholding. This is an easy way most people can earn more money. More than 100 million people received a tax refund in 2013, and the average refund was $2,651, according to the IRS. That means all those people are letting Uncle Sam hang on to too much of their money throughout the year. If you're among those who got a refund, keep that money for yourself (or gifts for others) by filing a new W-4 with your employer to adjust your tax withholding. 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: $442 (based on the average refund)


Sell your stuff on consignment. Look around your house and in your closet – there's bound to be stuff you no longer use or clothing you haven't worn in years. You can turn these items into cash quickly without the hassle of selling them yourself by taking them to a consignment store. Look for upscale consignment stores that get a lot of traffic if you want top dollar for clothing, furniture, linens, china, glassware or artwork. Expect to split the profit 50/50 with the store. I recently made over $300 selling furniture and home accessories at consignment stores.


 Two months of savings: $300


Participate in clinical trials. Put extra cash in your pocket by becoming a human guinea pig. Compensation depends on the nature of the trial and the amount of time involved, but payment can range from as little as $25 for a couple of hours of your time to thousands of dollars for longer-term commitments. You can research medical studies that might be recruiting participants at, a database run by the National Institutes of Health. Search by location to identify local trials.


Two months of savings: $25 and up per trial


Get paid for your opinions. In-person focus groups run by marketing research firms such as Delve can pay $50 to $200 for your time. But its facilities are only in a handful of cities. Online and phone surveys offer another way to receive compensation for your opinions no matter where you live. Survey participants with firms such as Harris Interactive and Schlesinger Associates can rack up rewards points redeemable for gift cards, which you can use to do your holiday shopping. Plus, with every Harris Poll you complete, you'll have a chance to enter a $10,000 sweepstakes.


 Two months of savings: $50 (minimum for a focus group; gift card amounts vary)


Join a street team. This is a way for young adults who are outgoing and articulate to earn some fast cash. Street teams promote products, films, albums, events and more by handing out samples, interacting with people on the street, or dressing as mascots. To get a job earning up to $25 an hour, sign up with a company such as Street Team Promotion, which handles promotions in big cities nationwide. Make sure that the company has a contract that specifies when you'll get paid. A more traditional way to earn cash for the holidays is to get a seasonal job. Retailers, restaurants, hotels and shipping and delivery companies often hire extra workers during the busy holiday season. Hourly rates will vary. Look for seasonal jobs at job-search sites such as and, and check with local temp agencies and CraigsList.


Two months of earnings: $200 (working four hours per month on a street team)


Total potential earnings = $1,017

More from Kiplinger's:


Oct 7, 2013 10:27AM

i know how to save on black friday.


stay home on black friday

Oct 7, 2013 8:24AM
ok so what if you don't HAVE cable, a smart phone or a land line? I cut all those back during the recession and never saw a reason to start spending on them again. . . . i don't BUY lunches out or cigarettes or coffee every day. Oh, yeah, I guess I can start selling off my clothing and household appliances. . . . thanks for the suggestions
Oct 5, 2013 1:18AM

Much simpler way to save for Black Friday:  Don't eat.

The bonus is you'll be fabulously thin for the holidays. 

Oct 7, 2013 11:04AM
Up until June 2012 (when I retired), I worked as a Foreign Service employee of the U.S. State Department (similar to Civil Service). Yes, a Federal government employee with Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance. My monthly premium cost me and my wife $435 @ month (that's over $5,000 @ year). It has been increasing in cost each year about $10 @ month. But, because of the Affordable Care Act, the same type of policy (Gold) would now double my premiums. Now, what did that guy say? Oh ya, your premiums will not increase (blatant, out and out lie - and he knew it from the beginning). But, fortunately I am also retired from the Navy. So, I dropped my BC/BS and use my retired military TRICARE health insurance. Oh, yes, I had to change doctors, to a TRICARE preferred provider. Oh, yes, in 6 months I will have to change doctors for the 3rd time in 1 3/4 years, when I move into the Medicare system. You know, the one that I have been paying into for the past 44 years. Though, I have to pay for Medicare Part B, out of my Social Security payment (you know, the same one I have had payments deducted from my pay for the past 44 years). But, Medicare no longer covers eye and dental. I guess the government figures old people don't need to be eating steak and eyesight, well it's just not going to get better, anyway. Then, you have all those people who I and my fellow hard working Americans have been subsidizing, because the say they can't work, don't want to work (because their gov entitlements are much higher than work wages), are illegal aliens (oops, I said that bad word). But, not to worry, if you think I have a sweet deal (that I actually paid for), because now my Federal/State Income taxes will increase to pay for this monstrosity. You know, the those taxes that 47% of Americans do not pay. Oh, wasn't that the exact figure Romney used at that luncheon?  Oh well, moot point. No one was listening, anyway. Yet, 15-30 million Americans will still be uninsured. Again, everyone, who will be paying for this? These are facts, not opinions. No, Obamacare is about control and the sheep are being led to the slaughter. Remember, this is all about misdirection. Yes, Congress allowed the gov to shut down. But, don't believe for one second that the president and Harry Boy didn't plan this to happen from the get go. They will, now, do and say anything to demonize the other party. Truly abusive stuff. Don't believe me? Then put down your iPhone, iPad, iPod, game player, etc and start watching the news. All of it. Not just ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, but all the other news media, including FOX, also. All of it. If not, well, you deserve whatever happens to you. Y'all voted for him. I am not a Republican nor a Democrat. I believe in the rights of the people (not the government). There truly is only one thing worse than a politician, and that's a child molester. The definition of political insanity is to vote for someone a second time, expecting a different outcome. So, you ask what I am going to do. I am going to sit back and watch it implode. And yes, I will be the first to smile in your face and say, "I told you so, numb nuts."
Oct 7, 2013 10:51AM
Life is a dark, cold place when you don't have a home phone, you already brown bag it every day, you've never spent a dime on drinking or smoking, it's 29 degrees and snowing in October (no biking or street team), you stream tv shows for free on Hulu, and you don't own a home/pay home owners insurance. 
Looks like I'll have to start selling my body to science if I want to reach the $1,000 Black Friday goal.   
Oct 4, 2013 10:21PM
Allot of money is spent on groceries. So plan menus that spreads for 2-3 days. For instance, stews, chicken, etc. Also, read the grocery ads before shopping and make a list. Stick to that list. Most people detours and spend more than what they went to the grocery store for. Another savings is clean out that closet or garage. Craigslist is a fast solution to get rid of these items and make a few bucks. This extra cash helps the grocery bill.  Also, you can now watch movies for free on you tube and internet. Stay home more often. Garage sales are so much fun. You can save by shopping there besides the dollar stores. I have picked up some great finds for pennies.  For instance, I picked up some PRECIOUS MOMENTS figurine collectibles for $5 each. Mint condition and still in original box.  I now display it in my home. Researched it and found these figurines retailed for $45-$125 each. Another great find, hard copy recipe books. Retails for $30-$55 each. I picked them up at an estate sale for $1 each. They all were in mint condition. STOP THROWING AWAY YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY. SHOP WISELY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oct 4, 2013 7:42PM
Wow didn't see anything I wanted to give up.... Where do we go from here?
Oct 7, 2013 11:21AM
i think a family grab bag would be alot more fun - holidays have become too commercial anyway and we have strayed away from the point being to just be together.
Oct 4, 2013 4:07PM

My great suggestion would be to cut back on manicures, pedicures and massages.


Personally, I use a storage tub, fill with warm water and epsom bath salts and soak and then paint my own toe nails.  Eventually I will upgrade to a foot tub that massages too.


Ask a friend to swap doing each others nails while you chat.  If you have a teen daughter enlist her, let her see that she can save money on manicures before she starts spending it.


Ask your husband to exchange massages.


Manicure savings: $20+

Pedicure savings: $40+

Massage savings: $60/hr

Oct 7, 2013 10:04AM
Haha smart spending would be to avoid black Friday and wait until after Christ-mas to buy presents whens the prices drop considerably. LOL I wonder, if no one buys anything until the prices go down what would happen? Hmmmmmmm Things that make you go hmmmmmmm. :)
Oct 7, 2013 10:24AM
I prefer giving money in a card.  I'm just doing my small part to screw up the holiday numbers.  Every little bit counts :)
Oct 7, 2013 1:38PM
Christmas, bah humbug!   Seriously, I don't know how anyone affords it any more.  I had to give up Christmas for lent!
Oct 7, 2013 1:31PM
I cut this most of this stuff 5 years ago to just get by.  What is the government cutting back on?????
Oct 7, 2013 10:42AM

If you have not saved any money for Christmas, you should try to save something.  Any amount you can set aside now will be helpful.  With the economy being what it is, you may not be able to save the whole amount, but save what you can.  Saving any amount will make you feel better then saving nothing at all.

Then use this as your motivation to start saving for Christmas 2014.  Keep track of what you are spending this year for Christmas and then divide that amount by 26 (assuming you get paid every other week).  Put this amount into a Savings Account with each paycheck or have it automatically deducted from your paycheck.  Then next year at this time you will be amazed how relaxed you will be knowing you have all the money needed for Christmas ready to go. 

Oct 4, 2013 5:53PM
Your landline is your best deal, should be drop the cell phone, And raise insurance deductibles? uumm sounds great till you need it and then all the money you might have saved is gone with deductible, or is that why I see so many new cars with dents, cause they can't afford their savings from a higher deductible, so ya great advice, buy a new car and let it look like a 20 year old car to save a few bucks.
Oct 4, 2013 7:25PM
Cut the phone, cut the cable, do telemarketing, sell "ask your doctor" ads for a commission. That is part time after your full day at work.  Sell all you have including sperm.  Participate in clinical trials and sign the paperwork that you understand these trial drugs may incapacitate you for life and kill you slowly  Then, you won't owe quiet as much on your forced Obamacare.
Oct 7, 2013 1:43PM

I have nothing to save...every dime I have worked for, I have coveted and saved and here is where I am today:


I am a retired federal worker and my BC/BS in going to increase to the point that it will take 90% of my retirement to pay for it.  I cannot do without it because Medicare will not cover the eye disease I have, the very one that caused the government to retire me on disability in the first place.  No treatment and I will be blind in 6 months.  


I was what I considered a financially stable widow.  I own my home (nothing fancy..1975 ranch), have an older RV that I have kept in pristine condition because it is the only way I can afford to take a vacation, almost have my truck paid for, and save every dime I can.  I don't do fancy, high $$$ anything, just not my style.  All in all, I, at age 68, felt I was secure for the days I have left on this earth.


Well, thanks to the idiot someone (sure wasn't me!!) put in the Oval Office, I will be hard-put to pay insurance and taxes on what little I have as this is a high-dollar small city now (I have been here in the same house for 28 years and my property taxes have gone from under $500 to way over $5000) and an old house will not sell in this town now, not for enough I could move (and I do not want to...this is where I raised my family...we made this house a home).  In fact, I tried to sell my house but because of the mortgage snafu (again thanks to the idiots in Washington) my house is too old for anyone to get a conventional mortgage on...never mind it has been kept up very well...I simply cannot sell it unless I finance the sale (and if you have ever looked into doing that, you know it is undoable if you want to buy another house and  are not rich, and forget the reverse mortgage thing...I plan to live too long for that).   


I honestly feel that Obama's intent is to kill off the senior citizens of this country.  We made the USA what it is today, but we are of no use now, just taking up space and using the money we earned to keep us alive.  He wants to take that and pay for healthcare for the illegals and those that won't work.  I can just starve to death or go live on the street...and I know I am not the only one in this boat!!!! 


We Seniors, government retirees especially, are SOL now with Obamacare.  My late husband served in the USAF for 8 years.  I worked for the federal government for over 20 years.  Our family...3 adult children,  3 adult granddaughters, 2 little grandbabies and one great granddaughter,  not a one of us had ever asked the government for a dime (no welfare, food stamps, nothing).  My son's health insurance is going up by $100 a week for him and his 2 little ones.  The 3 g-kids that are working their way through college are scared to death about how they are going to get and pay for medical insurance....they are living from hand to mouth now so they can get their diploma.


Oh, that's right...this is about how I am going to save for Black Friday... first I have to come up with something to save....there may, I say may be some spare change in the bottom of my purse.  Does it count if I take that out and count it, and not spend it??


Signed...A Throw-Away Senior Citizen  ((who is not going to go down easy!!))

Oct 7, 2013 12:11PM

These are ideas I am already doing.


I think a second job is still the best idea around...just be careful to bank it and not be frivolous with it. 

Oct 7, 2013 9:13PM
Black Friday is a scam.  You do NOT save money by spending it  - no matter what those stupid commercials tell you!,
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