Want less stress and less debt during the most wonderful time of the year? Consider saving up starting now. Although summer is in full swing and the holidays seem like they’re a world away, it’s never too early to plan. If you want to get a head start, consider these tips for managing your money for the holiday season.
Set a budget
According to the National Retail Federation, American consumers estimated they’d spend an average of $1,007 on gifts for their friends and families during the 2018 holiday season. Even if you don’t plan on dropping $1,000 this year, it’s smart to have an estimate of how much you’ll spend. Financial coach Karen Ford advises making a list of gift recipients, then deciding how much you want to spend on each person. Add the list up and divide that sum by the number of weeks until your shopping begins. This number is how much you’ll need to put aside each week to meet your gift budget.
Get started early
The earlier you start saving, the easier it will be to reach your goal. If you want to have $1,000 of spending money by Black Friday and start saving on July 1, you’ll have to save about $45.50 dollars every week. However, if you start saving on May 1, you’d have to set aside only $32.25 per week. To help you visualize your savings, Eric Rosenberg, a contributor to The Balance, suggests downloading a budgeting app, like Mint, Wally or Simple. These tools link to your bank account and give you an easy way to monitor your savings.
Stash your cash
Put your holiday fund in a place where you’ll be less tempted to use it for everyday splurges. Instead of using a jar or a piggy bank, financial educator Joseph Dillard recommends starting a separate savings account for your fund, like a Holiday Club account offered by your local financial institution. For greater convenience, have part of your paycheck directly transferred to your holiday account instead of manually making deposits each pay period.
Adjust your spending
Trim your expenses to meet your savings goal. Examine your usual monthly budget, and see what you can cut. Clip coupons, pack lunch from home and cancel any subscription services that you aren’t using. You can also scale back by changing your routine — skip the occasional night out, make your coffee at home and catch a matinee instead of an evening showing. It takes a bit of sacrifice, but your savings will add up as the weeks roll by.
Earn extra money
To bolster your holiday fund even further, supplement your income. Consider selling off extra clothes and toys at a summer yard sale, baby-sitting, pet-sitting or house-sitting for your friends. Maybe take on part-time, temporary holiday employment. You can also try selling your goods online or to local consignment shops.
Discuss these saving strategies with your family — they may help you develop your budget and suggest more creative ways to save. Instead of worrying about making ends meet, applying these smart saving habits will help your holidays be a more joyous and relaxing time.