Five tips to help save money for holiday shopping
December is here, and if you haven’t already, you will soon be shopping for Christmas gifts. Studies show that 53% of people feel stressed financially when it comes to holiday shopping, and for many of them it’s because they will incur added debt on credit cards. A simple year-round savings plan could help to avoid that stress.
Here are five tips to help you save money throughout the year for your holiday shopping:
1. Set up a Christmas savings account.
As soon as you decide that it’s time to start saving for Christmas, the first thing you should do is set up a savings account strictly for the holidays. By opening a separate savings account that is only for holiday spending, you’ll be more likely to make saving money a priority. Plus, you can easily track how much money you have saved for the holidays.
2. Calculate how much money you need to save.
Before you start shopping for Christmas, you should create a budget. Make a list of every person for whom you need to buy a gift, then set a budget for how much you want to spend on each person. Calculate how much you’ll be spending. Take the total amount you need to save and divide it by the number of months until December to determine how much you need to save monthly. Remember, the sooner you start saving for Christmas, the less you’ll have to save each month.
3. Start earning gift cards and cash back for gifts.
Almost everyone is part of rewards program in which they accumulate points toward cash back and gift cards. These rewards can be saved throughout the year and given as Christmas gifts. This is a smart way to take something that you have earned for free and use it to make your life easier in December.
4. Cut back on expenses.
An easy way to save money is to cut back on expenses. Take a look at your last three months’ banking statements. Calculate how much you’re spending each month on different areas of your budget. Then ask yourself three questions when it comes to your recurring expenses: Can I cancel it? Can I negotiate a better rate? Can I shop around for a better price? Chances are you’ll find extra money in your budget when you take a long, hard look at your spending. Then, take that extra money and deposit it in your Christmas savings fund.
5. Make saving money automatic.
The easiest way to save for Christmas is to not think about it. By including Christmas savings in your monthly budget and setting up automatic withdrawals to a separate account, you’ll easily find yourself with enough money for holiday shopping.
December doesn’t have to be burdened with debt. If you plan and change the way you save for Christmas, all stress might fade away.
Karen Metz is manager of F&M Trust’s community office in Greencastle.
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