December is the month when lots of us start to run a little short of cash because we have gifts to buy and end-of-the-year bills to pay.
Well, according to CBS News Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, by making a few changes to your lifestyle, you can save up to $500 by January. Check out the suggestions she shared on "The Early Show" below.
Get rid of add-ons, such as premium channels, and save $25 or more a month.
If you have a cell phone and a landline, there's little reason to keep the landline. However, if you really want to keep it, consider a less expensive option: measured-use home phones offer limited local outgoing calls and unlimited incoming calls for about $10 -- that's a $25 savings versus an all-inclusive landline plan.
Save $40. Americans are increasingly finding alternatives here. In fact, consumers spent 11 percent less last year in this category, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2009 Consumer Expenditures Survey released in October. If you have more than one car, this may be the time to look at downsizing to just one car and getting around with better planning, carpooling, bike riding, public transportation or car sharing. Car-sharing companies such as Zipcar operate in a growing number of cities and on many university campuses. You can rent a car by the hour when you have to have one without the expense of insuring and maintaining your own car.
Gift Cards Instead of Cash
$689 is the average amount people will spend this holiday. You can save as much as 30 percent of that, or $210 by purchasing discounted gift cards for everyone -- or even by purchasing discounted gift cards and using them to buy everyone's gift. Where can you find these? Try Giftcards.com, Costco.com, Bjs.com, GiftCardRescue.com, and Abcgiftcard.com are just a few of the places you can go.
You can spend $100 a month seeing movies with family of four with popcorn, drinks and maybe parking. Have a game night at home or bring your own snacks and save that $100.
The average cost is $60 month. Drop your membership, buy a DVD or a workout ball and work out from home and save $40 month.
Buy Generic Products
In Sept. 2010, Consumer Reports conducted 21 blind taste tests comparing name-brand and store-brand grocery products. The verdict: Store-brand foods were often at least as good as their name-brand counterparts. Save $50 month by buying generic products over brand names -- for example, brand name cereal is $6 and generic is $3.