Christmas is Seven Months Away – Have You Started Saving?

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When you woke up this morning I sincerely doubt you realized that Christmas is seven months away. Well it is! I’m not a huge Christmas person but I do like to make sure that I can give meaningful gifts for my close friends and family. I normally buy for eight to ten people in any given year and normally spend anywhere from $20 to $50 on each person. If I had kids I bet I’d be spending a lot more.

In order to get meaningful gifts I try to buy as many gifts ahead of time as possible. However, like a lot of people I know, I am a procrastinator and normally end up buying most of my gifts in December. This can mean spending a lot of money in a short time frame and I don’t know about you but my budget could easily get blown on Christmas.

My monthly spending allowance is much less than what I plan to spend on gifts so how do I get the money to buy my gifts at the last minute in December? I’m going to save in advance! For simplicity’s sake let’s pretend that I said I was planning on spending $700 for Christmas this year. In order to save that much money I would need to save $100 each month until Christmas. Most people would agree that sounds much more reasonable than coming up with $700 out of nowhere in December. I get two paychecks a month so that makes it even more manageable at only $50 a paycheck.

Talking about saving for Christmas is easy, but actually doing it is another story. Here are a couple ways you can effortlessly save for Christmas without having to think about it after you have it set up.

The first requires you to set up a new savings account. If you have a bank like ING Direct this process is as simple as a few clicks and about 2 minutes. If you have a more traditional bank or credit union stop by a local branch and ask to have a new account set up. Next, set up a direct deposit for the desired amount to automatically get part of your paycheck deposited into your Christmas account. Most employers should allow this. I can set mine up myself where I work but you may have to talk to your Human Resources department and fill out a simple form.

Another method would be to set up an automatic transfer out of your checking account and into your savings account the day after your paychecks get deposited. At ING Direct this is called an Automatic Savings Plan. All you have to do is set it up and forget it until Christmas and then you’ll have your desired amount ready for buying gifts!

If that all sounds like too much work for you I can understand that. This method is even easier, but a little less secure. After your paycheck is deposited withdraw your desired amount from your checking account and put the Christmas money in a secret place that you know you won’t touch. You can hide it in a jar in your kitchen or in a safe hidden in a closet. The location is up to you but make sure it is somewhere you won’t be tempted to spend it, somewhere you will remember, and somewhere not out in the open so it doesn’t get “borrowed from” or stolen.

Now that you are fully aware Christmas is only seven months away hopefully you have a great idea how to pay for it this year. This should help reduce any Christmas stress and more importantly Christmas debt.

Have you ever saved in advance for Christmas? How did it work out? Any other tips you’d like to share?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

Comments

  1. I bet starting early also helps you to find deals and save you lots of money. I’ve tried to start early, but without the impetus of Christmas looming, I have trouble settling on one gift.

    I need a deadline to force me to make gift decisions.

    • I don’t actually end up buying gifts early but at least I have the funds ready. If you can’t decide on gifts at least save some money in advance.

  2. We have an checking account called “non-monthly” expenses and they’re for expenses that come periodically throughout the year. My wife and I save $40/month every month for Christmas and birthday presents. So when December rolls around we’re ready to buy whatever!

  3. Tackling Our Debt says:

    Saving throughout the year for Christmas is a very wise idea although many of us forget to do it. My husband and I don’t buy Christmas gifts anymore as we are happy with what we have, but we do enjoy doing a lot of baking and making special meals around Christmas and New Years so saving up money in advance for all that is what I need to work on.

  4. Haha I have not started saving. Bad PF Blogger. One thing I usually do, though, is buy gifts for people year-round. Then when Christmas comes along I have that stash. It’s a very specific stash for very specific people, but it helps December suck a lot less.

    • If you buy gifts throughout the year I don’t think it is a big deal to save in advance but if you know you’re a last minute shopper like me you definitely need to save.

  5. I haven’t thought of saving for Christmas yet. That being said, I do think it’s a really good idea to plan for such expenses. Planning on future expenses, setting a budget, and saving a little bit each month is a smart way to handle Christmas and other expenses.

  6. For years, “triple paycheck month” (which we get twice a year, thanks to my husband’s bi-weekly paycheck schedule) has fallen in December, which is what we’ve used for Christmas money. Then last year, I started Christmas shopping – taking advantage of sales, promos, coupons, etc. – in APRIL; I was done by September, but I went WAY overboard (I didn’t spend too much, but I definitely bought too much – it was like stuff overload). This year, I’m adhering to the “three-gift” rule for my husband, children, and myself: something you need, something you want, and something that will teach you something new (my husband is going to get golf lessons, most likely). I think it’ll definitely keep my costs – and the gobs of stuff problem – down.

    • Sounds like you have Christmas down! I wanted to keep it simple so I just focused on the strategy I use but there are many as you have mentioned. Congrats on planning ahead AND managing to get Christmas down to a reasonable size. I think it will be harder when I eventually end up with kids but I think it is a great idea.

  7. Serendipity says:

    Sounds like you have Christmas well planned out. I haven’t even begun to think about it but I usually don’t have a lot of people to buy for.

  8. I started saving as of May 4th. We decided on a goal of $50 or less per person minus the two of us. And every pay day we are trying to take $50 to put aside. I have a tab on my spreadsheet that has each person, how much we want to spend, plus decorations/wrapping paper, etc that we would like to buy along with an estimated cost. Last year we waited until October to start saving and it hurt a little bit. This year we are hoping for it to be a breeze!

  9. I’m not sure if you have kids or are married, but as a non-married, kid-less 30-year old, I haven’t exchanged gifts with friends/family in quite a while.

    • Our families still like to give presents but it isn’t anything like it was when we were kids. We try to keep our spending low and encourage our families to do the same.

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