AH! Christmas is a little more than four months away.
I know it is only back to school time, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Christmas is coming every year.
Unfortunately, people always seem to be surprised by how quickly Christmas sneaks up on them.
The worst surprise, however, is how much money gets drained from your paychecks or, hopefully, your holiday targeted savings account in the next four months.
Start Saving Now
If you don’t have any cash set aside for the holidays yet, you had better get started saving now.
Depending on your family, you may spend hundreds or thousands of dollars above and beyond normal expenses in the next few months.
If you’re already running your household on a tight budget, you need to start planning now.
The best way to save for an event like this is in advance. You can do this by simply taking a portion of each paycheck and putting it into a separate holiday fund.
Figure out how much you want to, or more likely will end up, spending and then divide that by the number of paychecks until you’ll spend the money.
It’s that simple to figure out how much you need to save.
How To Find The Money To Save
Even if you don’t think it’s possible to find money to save, you’d be surprised where you can cut back. The first step is to see what you can cut out of your normal expenses for a few short months.
It won’t be forever, just until you can save enough money for the holidays. After all, you don’t want to charge up credit card debt or have to skip any other debt payments.
A common area that many people can save money on in the short term is food and dining out. Use up the food that has been sitting in the back of your pantry or freezer. This will give your grocery bill a break for a couple weeks or, if you’re a food hoarder, months.
If you usually frequent fancier sit down restaurants, try less expensive restaurants for a few months.
Better yet, if you want to save even more money cut out half of the meals that you would normally eat out at restaurants. You could even go as far as quit dining out at all if you need to cover a large holiday budget in a short period of time.
Actually Save The Money
So many times we “save” money in one spending category only to spend it somewhere else without thinking. You need to actually save the money if you want the money to be there to purchase Christmas gifts.
One way to do this is setting up a separate holiday fund savings account. Then, set up automatic transfers to your new account each paycheck. This is super easy at the big online only banks like Ally and Capital One 360.
Another way to actually save money requires a little bit more discipline. Rather than save in a savings account, withdraw cash each payday to cover your holiday savings. Then, hide the cash in a safe spot where you know you won’t spend it.
If you have enough discipline your money will still be there when you’re ready to start spending for the holidays.
Start Over Again In January
If it was tough to save enough money for Christmas in just a few short months, then January offers the best opportunity to make things easier on yourself next year.
After you total up how much money you spent on the holidays this year, simply divide that by the number of paychecks you’ll receive before the next holiday season.
Why is it easier to start in January? The amount you have to save per paycheck is much less when you have 12 months of paychecks to spread the cost out over, rather than just a few months.
Do you save up for the holidays throughout the year, or at least a couple of months ahead of time? If not, are you going to start now, or at least start in January for next year?