Want to know the secret to less stress and zero debt during the most wonderful time of the year? Start saving now! It’s never too early to plan for the holidays. Consider these tips for managing your money:
Set a budget
It’s smart to have an estimate of how much you’ll spend on gifts this holiday season. Financial coach Karen Ford advises making a list of gift recipients, then deciding how much you want to spend on each person. Add the list up and divide that sum by the number of weeks until your shopping begins. This number is how much you’ll need to put aside each week to meet your gift budget.
Get started early
The earlier you start saving, the easier it will be to reach your goal. To help you visualize your savings, Eric Rosenberg, a contributor to The Balance, suggests downloading a budgeting app, like Mint, Wally or Simple. These tools link to your bank account and give you an easy way to monitor your savings.
Stash your cash
Put your holiday fund in a place where you’ll be less tempted to use it for everyday splurges. Instead of using a jar or a piggy bank, financial educator Joseph Dillard recommends starting a separate savings account for your fund. For greater convenience, have part of your paycheck directly transferred to your holiday account instead of manually making deposits each pay period.
Open a Christmas savings account
With a Christmas savings account from First Federal Bank, you can make saving for the holidays automatic. Simply arrange for a minimum $10 transfer each month from your checking account, and you are on your way! Earn interest on balances of $1,000 and up. You can save throughout the year, and have money to spend on friends and family without going into debt this holiday season!
Adjust your spending
Trim your expenses to meet your savings goal. Examine your usual monthly budget, and see what you can cut. Clip coupons, pack lunch from home, and cancel any subscription services you aren’t using. You can also scale back by changing your routine — skip the occasional night out, make your coffee at home. It takes a bit of sacrifice, but your savings will add up as the weeks roll by.
Earn extra money
To bolster your holiday fund even further, look for ways to supplement your income. Consider selling off extra clothes and toys at a summer yard sale, baby-sitting, pet-sitting or house-sitting for your friends. Maybe take on part-time, temporary holiday employment. You can also try selling your goods online or to local consignment shops.
Discuss these saving strategies with your family — they may help you develop your budget and suggest more creative ways to save. Applying these smart saving habits will help your holidays be a more joyous and relaxing time.