There are six months left until Christmas! How prepared are you for your Christmas shopping?
Every year, shoppers spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for loved ones, relatives and co-workers (especially if they are doing the popular Secret Santa gift exchange).
While many consumers do shopping here and there throughout the year, others may lose track and do their shopping at the last minute. When you factor in decoration and travel, the costs can add up quickly. Some may find themselves unprepared and resort to either using credit cards or dipping into savings.
Luckily, there is still plenty of time to save up money for the year's biggest gift-giving event.
What follows is a list of great ways to start saving money for the Christmas season without hurting your finances.
Set Spending Goals
The first thing that will help you in saving money for Christmas is to set spending goals. This can be an amount you want to spend overall, or per person. You can then begin to start saving during the time between now and December.
Look at how much you spent last Christmas. Did you overspend in some areas?
Knowing how much you need to spend for the coming holiday can help you better prepare. Figure how much money you need to spend on holiday gifts, wrapping paper and other decorations and then divide that by how many months are left before Christmas.
Putting a smaller amount aside each month will help you to save up for the holidays and make your Christmas budget much more manageable.
Look for Sales and Deals Throughout the Year
For many people, Black Friday is when they wait to find deals on Christmas gifts.
While it is true that Black Friday is when retailers have some great deals, many stores offer great deals throughout the year. In some instances, you may be able to find something cheaper during an earlier sale than during Black Friday.
Keep an eye on price drops and deals on items you might want to get for someone. Weekends after major holidays you can often find great deals on items. Also, keep an eye out for seasonal items that may drop in price as the seasons change. For instance, once summer wraps up, grills will lower in price, which will be a great time to get a new grill for dad! You just may have to hide it somewhere for a few months.
Another thing to keep in mind when looking at these deals along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to give yourself a spending cap. Go in deciding the highest amount that you are willing to spend. This will keep you from overspending and hurting your budget.
Set Up a Christmas Savings Account
A lot of us struggle with saving money. When we see money in our account, and the bills have been paid, we want to go ahead and spend it. This can be an issue is you are trying to save money for the holidays. One great solution is to set up a Christmas savings account.
This is separate from your regular savings bank account, so don’t use that money for your Christmas savings. Most banks can help you in setting up a separate account just for your Christmas spending. You can set a direct deposit amount so that a certain amount is taken out from your paycheck. This can be a big help as you won’t even see the money in your checking account and lower the temptation of spending the money before Christmas.
Cut Social Spending
With the current global situation, this step may be easy for some of us. With the summertime and communities opening back up, many people will want to socialize. Most of this will involve spending money. Give yourself a budget and possibly save social time for the weekends or once during the week.
If you are in a situation where social gatherings and public spaces are still limited, take advantage of the money you will save. Redirect that money you would have spent going out and put it aside for the holidays.
Budget for Holiday Travel
Many people travel for the holidays. They may have family in another town, state, or country. Some people choose this time of year to take a vacation to get away from the yearly stress. This can add extra expenses for the holidays such as gas, car rentals, airfare and hotel stays. If you are not prepared, this can be a huge expense and can take a chunk out of your spending.
Planning ahead for your holiday travel can help you out with this. Look at rates for different hotels and airlines so that you can plan ahead. Look at current rates and then set a goal for September or August to be able to book your travel plans. Many sites also offer bundled discounts for booking ahead.
Loyalty Cards at Retailers
Take advantage of retailers that offer loyalty cards. These are different from store credit cards, so be careful of anything that will set you up with more debt. Some retailers may charge and annual or monthly fee, which is usually fairly cheap, especially if it is a retailer that you use often. A membership at bulk stores like Costco can save you big when you buy certain items in bulk.
A benefit of the loyalty card is that customers are rewarded for spending money. They offer discounts on certain items or allow customers to accumulate points that they can use like cash or offer cashback programs. Even having a loyalty card for your local supermarket can help in your savings; the money you save can be applied to your holiday budget.
Saving Money and Save Christmas
For many people, the holiday season can add a lot of unwanted stress. However, there are plenty of easy ways for you to save money to take some of the stress away and ease your holiday spending. Some methods may require putting extra money aside and looking for deals.
Others may require lifestyle and spending changes, which will have their own benefits to your financial well-being. Once you implement a new personal finance routine, it will make next year even easier!
You might also be interested in: How to Manage your Finances [Now and Later in Life]