It sneaks up on us every year. Everything is humming along and then BAM! Before we know it, it’s Christmas time and we are scrambling to figure out how to pay for all the gifts we would love to give to our friends and family.
I’ve fallen victim to this far too many times. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I’ll just wait until my husband’s Christmas bonus comes to do the shopping” and assume the money will be there. What happens if there IS no bonus? Many of us just “charge it” and worry about it later. This debt cycle can become brutal.
Wouldn’t it be better to make a plan now that would allow you to have all the cash you need for next year’s shopping in your hand at the right time? No worries, no debt, no charge cards.
I have resolved to make a plan that will allow me to do just that for my shopping next year. Here are a few options I’ve considered that would allow me to accomplish the goal. Perhaps some of them will help you do the same.
- Start with a Holiday Budget. The budget is always the backbone of your spending plan. A good place to start is to take your expenses for this year and add a small amount (maybe 5-10%) to account for inflation or unexpected expenses. A good tool for figuring the budget out can be found here.
- Create a Savings Plan. Once you have your budget established, it’s time to create a plan for saving that amount. There are a lot of ways to do it. You could take the total amount and divide it by 11 months (so that you have the money in December) and set aside that set amount each month. If you are certain that you will be receiving some larger chunks of cash you can take set amounts for your holiday spending from that (a tax refund for instance). However you decide to do it, the important thing is that you JUST DO IT and vow not to touch that money for any reason.
- Utilize tools to help you. Are you afraid that you’ll be tempted to take your savings and use it for something else? Consider something like a short-term CD. A penalty for early withdrawal may be all the incentive you need. A Christmas club could be valuable as well. These used to be popular in years past but are making a comeback. It’s easier to find a Credit Union offering a Christmas club than a local or national bank chain. If your bank doesn’t offer a Christmas club, simply open a separate savings account and utilize that for only your Christmas savings.
- Put your skills to use! Do you have a skill or hobby that could earn you some extra cash throughout the year? Put it to use and set that money aside. A trickle of money here and there throughout the year can add up. I know people who knit or crochet and sell the items to earn cash for Christmas. I’ve known people to give music lessons or mow lawns. Whatever you can think of to earn some extra cash, consider setting it aside as part of your Christmas savings.
These are just a few of the ideas that I’ve been exploring. I don’t have my plan for next year completely set up yet, but I’m making progress and am committed to making it happen. Do you have any tips or tricks to share? How do you save money for Holiday spending? Share your ideas with us in the comments.
*Photo credit shoelessmommy.blogspot.com