There is a chill in the air, silver bells, and—is that the smell of cinnamon? That’s right, Christmas is coming. And with the holidays around the corner, you might be tempted to go into financial stress mode. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales are expected to increase by 3.8-4.2% this year.
The holidays don’t have to be filled with anxious shopping trips or merry memories bought on credit. There are plenty of ways to start saving for Christmas this year that don’t bring on heart palpitations. Here are six easy ways to save for Christmas so you can get back to peppermint mochas and reruns of Christmas Vacation.
Create a Christmas Savings Account
One of the easiest ways to save for the holidays is to keep your holiday cash separate from your checking account. If it’s not separated, you won’t be able to see how much you actually have saved. You also prevent yourself from accidentally spending that money on something else.
Start by opening up a separate savings account. Look for a high-yield savings account that pays a good interest rate. There are plenty of savings accounts that pay close to 2% which is an effortless way to build your savings even further.
Another idea to help you save is to label this account “Saving for Christmas.” When you label your account, it helps you stay on track with your goal. Account #54321 doesn’t have the same attachment as Saving for Christmas, does it?
Decide How Much You Need to Save
Next, decide how much money you need to save. A great way to determine this amount is to look back at last year’s holiday spending. If you don’t have that information handy, make a list. You could break down your holiday spending into these categories:
- Charitable donations
Then you can start mapping out your expenses. A survey from MagnifyMoney showed that consumers racked up an average of $1,054 in holiday debt. If $1,000 bucks are the average, then you might consider a goal to save $1,000 for Christmas.
Break Down Your Monthly Saving for Christmas Amount
After you figure out how much you would like to spend this holiday season, break your goal amount into monthly savings. A great way to stay on top of your monthly savings is to set up an automatic contribution to your Christmas savings account.
Most banks have automatic contribution capabilities. If a monthly contribution doesn’t sound like the right fit, try a weekly savings habit instead. It can be more manageable to sock away $25 per week instead of $100 per month.
Change Your Spending Habits
Is that your budget collecting dust over there? In order to change your spending habits to save for Christmas, you need to have a budget setup. Otherwise, you won’t know which areas to cut back on in order to save up cash for the holidays.
Once you know exactly where your money is going, you can make better decisions to save more money for the holidays and cut back on spending.
A few areas you could cut back on to make room for holiday spending could be:
- Coffee shops
- Date nights
- Happy hours
You could even temporarily pause a few future goals. Just be sure to figure out what is more important to you: spending money on gifts or saving for your future car? The choice is entirely up to you. As long as you are cash-flowing, this is your opportunity to get creative.
Make Extra Money
Picking up extra jobs does not always translate to working for minimum wage on the weekends. The best way to make extra money is through opportunities that you can fit easily into your schedule. There are a few ways to do this.
Apply for Seasonal Jobs
There are plenty of retailers who staff up during the holiday season. In fact, Target is hiring seasonal employees starting at $13 per hour. You could spend just a few hours each weekend to build up your Christmas savings. Bonus tip: look for seasonal jobs that are close to home and something that you would enjoy doing for a few hours at a time.
Take Up a Side Gig
If you want more flexibility, a side gig could work better for you. Consider working for a rideshare app for a few hours or freelance an existing skill. Writers, graphic designers, even babysitters, and dog sitters have the opportunity to make extra cash.
Find three people in your contacts list and tell them you’re for hire. Chances are, they might know someone who needs your services and will pay for it.
Then, use Next Door or your neighborhood Facebook group to advertise your services. Even a quick gig could add up to someone’s Christmas gift.
Sell Your Stuff
Another idea to keep you saving for Christmas is to get rid of unwanted items in your home. This can work especially well if you sell old Christmas decor close to the holidays. People love to score a good deal and you double up by decluttering your place.
Start Shopping Early
There is no better time than the present for presents! Scout out deals and sales that can save you money in the long-run.
You could also create online wishlists within Amazon or Etsy so you can keep an eye on prices. If you are a Google Chrome user, try the Shoptagr plugin. Shoptagr lets you save merchandise from hundreds of retail sites in one spot. Then you can set up notifications via Shoptagr so that when an item goes on sale or the price drops, they will email you.