I can’t believe I’m even writing this, but Christmas is just around the corner! No, I don’t meant it’s next week or next month, but it’ll be here before you know it. And unless you have an unlimited budget, it’s probably time to start thinking NOW about how to pay for it.
But before we start talking about HOW, we probably need to know WHO and HOW MUCH. So grab a pencil and paper and make a list of everyone you plan to give a gift to. Then next to each person’s name, write the amount you plan to spend. If you have any ideas about what to get them, write that down, too. Then add it up. That number is how much money you need to pay for Christmas.
Now comes the hard part – finding the money. If your budget is already fully allocated to other things, saving for Christmas won’t be easy. But here are a few ideas that don’t take a bite out of the budget.
1. Save your change. This is easiest if you use cash for your household spending. Dump every bit of change into a jar and save it for Christmas. I promise you’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up. If you don’t use cash, you can transfer random amounts of money to a savings account that’s devoted just for Christmas. Here’s what I mean: you check your balance on-line and see that you have $225 in your account. Transfer $5 to your Christmas account. You won’t notice that $5 and your Christmas account will be $5 richer. Next time you might have $192. Transfer $2 to leave an even amount in your checking account. Easy and painless.
I’m lucky in that my bank has a program called Keep The Change. All of my debit card purchases are rounded up to the next dollar and the difference is automatically transferred to my savings account. I’ve been doing this for years and LOVE it!
2. Unexpected money. Determine that all unexpected money will go to the Christmas account: refunds, rebates, etc.
3. Put things back. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you’re at Target and you have a cart load of stuff you’re going to buy. Before you get to the checkout, you take a second look at your cart and decide you don’t need everything in there. So you put three items back that would have cost you $10. That $10 you didn’t spend goes into your Christmas savings account.
4. Coupons. If you’re already using coupons this won’t work for you because you’re already using your savings. But if you’re not, start using coupons just until Christmas. All money that you save using coupons goes into your Christmas account.
5. Cancel something Maybe you have a subscription to something you don’t need or can do without for a while. Cancel the service or subscription and put that money into the Christmas account.
6. Give something up just until Christmas. Let’s say you go to the vending machine every day and buy a soda and a snack for $1.50. If you skip the snack and bring something from home, you can save $3.75 a week or $15 a month or $45 over three months. Wow! Who knew it would add up so fast. If you skip BOTH the soda AND the snack, you save $7.50 a week or $30 a month or $90 over three months. That could really help your Christmas budget (and maybe your waistline, too!). Then after Christmas you can resume your afternoon pick-me-up.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started. Scrutinize your budget and brainstorm different ways you can save for Christmas. But whatever you do, GET STARTED NOW!