Money Health

Seven Easy Ways to Start Saving for Christmas

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There is a chill in the air, the sound of silver bells, and—is that the smell of cinnamon? That’s right, Christmas is coming. With the holidays around the corner, along with the gift-giving and steady barrage of festivities, you might be tempted to go into financial stress mode. But saving for Christmas doesn’t have to be a stressor.

The holidays are a time to celebrate. There are plenty of ways to start saving for Christmas this year that don’t bring on heart palpitations, but it’s best to start early. Here are seven easy ways to save for Christmas so you can get back to peppermint mochas and reruns of Christmas Vacation.

1. 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 percent which is an effortless way to build your savings even further. Also, consider labeling this account “Saving for Christmas,” which will help you stay on track with your goal.

2. 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:

  • Gifts
  • Charitable donations
  • Decor
  • Cards
  • Travel
  • Food
  • Fun

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 this is the average, then you might consider a goal to save $1,000 for Christmas.

3. 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.

4. Change your spending habits

Is that your budget collecting dust over there? In order to change your spending habits when saving for Christmas, you need to have a budget set up. Otherwise, you won’t know which areas to cut back on. 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
  • Clothes
  • Restaurants
  • Subscriptions
  • 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.

5. 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. 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. 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.

6. 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 wish lists within Amazon or Etsy so you can keep an eye on prices.

7. Spend more time, less money

Studies show that people who value quality time with friends and loved ones over money or material positions have happier lives. Instead of spending $100 on a gift for a friend you’ve been too busy to see, consider spending a couple of hours with them (and less money) at the beach, over a lunch, or something that will remain in your memory long after you’ve paid the bill.

Alternatively, you could make gifts for your friends and family members. These types of gifts tend to be more personal, often showcase a hobby or skill, and ultimately will be cherished much more than anything that could be purchased out of a catalog. Of course, you’ll need to budget the time to make your gifts. But, ideally, you’ll enjoy the time you spend making them.

However you choose to spend your time, laying off the credit card will help you start saving for Christmas.

Saving for Christmas is a great way to save for your future

Learning how to save for the holidays will lead toward the development of habits that will help you better plan for your future. Whether you’re managing debt or just learning about budgeting, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Our simple-to-follow financial guide to help you move toward greater financial freedom. Get started today by downloading our free guide.

Justine Nelson is the founder of Debt Free Millennials, an online community to help millennials eliminate debt and live a debt free lifestyle. As a freelance writer and YouTuber, Justine enjoys creating upbeat and educational personal finance content. This Midwest millennial paid off $35k in student loan debt and now resides in San Diego with her husband.